Taking a look back at another week of news and headlines from Cupertino, this week’s Apple Loop includes the latest iPhone 5G problems, falling demand in China, Apple’s confirmation of two major events, the latest iOS 12 beta, a boring iPad Mini update, and the problem with the AirPods battery replacement program.
Apple Loop is here to remind you of a few of the very many discussions that have happened around Apple over the last seven days (and you can read my weekly digest of Android news here on Forbes).
The iPhone’s 5G Problem
The presumptively named iPhone 11 is expected to launch later this year, but will be missing the high-speed 5g capability of leading Android rivals. 2020’s iPhone 12 may also be missing 5G. What’s gone wrong? Ryan Vlastelica reports:
Apple Inc. is expected to wait until 2020 before it releases a 5G version of its iPhone, but even with a time frame that puts a potential launch after rivals such as Samsung, Apple may still struggle to get the necessary components to build the product.
According to [Industry Analysts], Apple is “in a difficult position” given its reliance on Intel’s modem products, and it has four options to deal with the situation, “none of which is ideal.”
Falling Demand For New iPhones
Before the new handsets are launched, Apple still has six months with the iPhone XR, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max on sale around the world as the lead handsets. Unfortunately sales and demand in the key territory of China continue to fall. I look at the issues here:
Although Apple is slowly moving towards a revenue model that focuses on software and services that transition will take time, and the lion’s share of revenue and profit comes from hardware sales in general and the iPhone in particular. With US and European markets effectively saturated, growth in China and the other BRIC territories is a vital bridge from Apple’s current financial hardware first business model.
That’s not going well.
Why not? I explain in more detail here on Forbes.
New Launches Confirmed By Apple
Given everyone already had the date in their calendar, Apple’s confirmation of an event on March 25th is not strictly speaking news, but a confirmation. Nevertheless we’re still awaiting an exact breakdown of what will be launched. But we can have a good guess, so over to Andrew Griffin at The Independent:
Apple is gearing up for one of its biggest events of the year – but there won’t be any traditional products on the way.
The company is hosting the world’s media for an announcement at the end of March, during which it will reveal its latest launches.
But those launches won’t be the traditional shiny slabs of glass and metal. Instead, they’ll be subscription services, allowing people to get content over the internet.
Apple has also announced the broad details of this year’s developer conference, WWDC 2019:
Apple today announced it will host its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in San Jose from June 3 through June 7 at the McEnery Convention Center. Now in its 30th year, Apple’s biggest event will bring together the world’s most innovative and creative developers…
Developers can apply for tickets today through March 20 at 5 p.m. PDT through the WWDC website. Tickets are issued through a random selection process, and developers will be notified of their application status by March 21 at 5 p.m. PDT.
As well as updating the rollout of Apple News to new territories and four new animoji, the iOS 12.2 packs in a number of new features. The latest beta improves those new features. Juli Clover reports:
The software introduces support for AirPlay 2 and HomeKit on third-party TVs in light of recent AirPlay 2 announcements, with a new option for limiting TV access joining the speaker access option in the Home app. There’s also a redesigned TV remote in Control Center, and when paired with tvOS 12.2, you can ask Siri to play specific TV shows, movies, and music on your HomeKit devices like the Apple TV.
iPad Mini Update Looks To Be A Bit Boring
Through the medium of a third-party case accessory, we now have a very good idea of what a new iPad Mini will look like. Unfortunately it looks like Apple is updating very little of the design, Killian Bell explains what’s on offer:
They suggest the new iPad mini will look exactly like its predecessors, with all buttons and ports in the same places.
The only difference is a relocated rear-facing microphone. The case, if genuine, quashes suggestions that the new iPad mini will offer four speakers, a Smart Connector, and an LED camera flash.
There is a silver lining: It looks like the new model will retain the 3.5mm headphone jack.
Apple’s AirPods are small, fashionable, but suffer from physics… which means the batteries in those purchased by first adopters have lost the majority of their endurance. And to replace the batteries under warranty repair is $49 per pod. That’s 63 percent of the cost of a new pair at $159. It’s even crazier when you note the out of warranty battery replacement is $138. Oh and the charging case has its own battery, and yep, it’s the same cost to replace. William Gallagher reports on the madness:
Since the AirPods die whenever one of the two batteries does, we need to replace both. That’s immediately a $98 total charge or 60 percent of the cost of buying a new pair. If you’re forced to dole out the $69 per bud, that isn’t tipping the math in your favor.
… new case plus replacement AirPods is likely to cost around the same as a new pair. In which case, you’ll be better off buying a new set and keeping the old one as a spare.
Apple Loop brings you seven days worth of highlights every weekend here on Forbes. Don’t forget to follow me so you don’t miss any coverage in the future. Last week’s Apple Loop can be read here, or this week’s edition of Loop’s sister column, Android Circuit, is also available on Forbes.