iPhone Forever →

MG Siegler on The $1,500 iPhone, the next (last?) stop on the march towards 'Apple Prime':

It just makes sense. I do believe this year may be an aforementioned test of Apple’s customers willingness to pay insanely high prices for a phone. I can’t see the trend continuing with the $2,000 iPhone. But actually, I can! It will just be obfuscated by monthly payments. Just as it used to be in the days of carrier subsidies! But this time, such payments will be going directly to Apple.

Again, this is already happening for those of us on the iPhone Upgrade Program. And it means there is no $1,500 iPhone, it’s more like a $60/month iPhone. And you can easily talk yourself into it because thanks to being eligible for a yearly upgrade to the latest iPhone, you’re never paying full price for a device. Instead, if you do the math (which most won’t), you’re paying roughly half the cost for the top-of-the-line model over that year.

Of course, you’re also paying Apple in perpetuity! And this monthly bill is only going to go up as they bake in AppleCare (which they do), theft protection (new this year!), and eventually all sorts of other goodies: iCloud storage, Apple Music, Apple Television (the service, not the box), etc.

This is how Apple truly becomes a services business. And it’s happening in front of our very eyes.

This is exactly what makes Amazon Prime so successful — start with a killer service, charge a monthly fee, constantly add new value and perks to make it impossible for subscribers to leave, and slowly raise the price.

I can absolutely see Apple working towards this.

I’m not sure when Apple realized and started executing upon this gradual price increase strategy. My best guess is just after 2011, when the top-of-the-line price started inching upwards again. Perhaps (almost certainly?) not coincidentally, this was the same year they let carriers subsidize old models down to $0. Apple let the lowest iPhone hit the bottom in order to set the top-of-the-line on a trajectory towards the stratosphere.

And it worked, rather beautifully. Now, I believe, the $1,500 iPhone offers a glimpse into Apple’s next phase. The $99/month, forever, iPhone.

iPhone forever.

Smartphone Depreciation →

MusicMagpie:

Like most technology, smartphones lose their value over time. As new models are released with improved features and capabilities, people start to lose interest in older models, and with this decreased demand comes a dip in value.

However, this depreciation doesn’t always happen at a steady rate – certain things can cause sudden drops. Knowing the best time to sell your phone can help make sure you get the most money possible.

Project Marzipan →

As reported back in December by Mark Gurman in Bloomberg:

Starting as early as next year, software developers will be able to design a single application that works with a touchscreen or mouse and trackpad depending on whether it’s running on the iPhone and iPad operating system or on Mac hardware…

Developers currently must design two different apps -- one for iOS, the operating system of Apple’s mobile devices, and one for macOS, the system that runs Macs. That’s a lot more work. What’s more, Apple customers have long complained that some Mac apps get short shrift…With a single app for all machines, Mac, iPad and iPhone users will get new features and updates at the same time…

Apple is developing the strategy as part of the next major iOS and macOS updates…Codenamed “Marzipan,” the secret project is planned as a multiyear effort that will start rolling out as early as next year…

Simply put, Apple is taking key foundations of iOS and putting it in macOS in an effort to inject the abundance of iOS developer enthusiasm from mobile into desktop.

As I've talked before, this comes at a really interesting time for desktop computers:

  • iOS apps are still a booming business
  • Android apps continue to grow in revenue
  • cross-platform desktop apps based on Electron are growing popular
  • Progressive Web Apps are a rising technology that will bring the massive reach of native-like web apps to all devices

These trends all point to one big question — what is the future of desktop apps?

Services like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Amazon will never need the full-blown robustness of a native Mac/Windows desktop app; they'll be able to get by just fine as Progressive Web Apps, especially since Chrome OS and Windows are pushing so hard for the technology.

But what happens to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Amazon when they get much better user engagement when they port their iOS apps to Mac?

Desktop apps will always be more powerful than mobile apps. And mobile apps will always be more powerful than Web Apps. But maybe, if this Marzipan thing gains traction, the future of mobile & desktop ends up being three main platforms — Marzipan for iOS & Mac, Android for non-iPhones, and then Progressive Web App for literally everything else.

Study: iOS Security Updates are Best in Industry →

SecurityLab shared their analysis of smartphone manufacturers' security updates, focusing on four specific questions:

  • The shortest time to publish a security update following discovery of a vulnerability
  • The maximum delay in making the update available to all
  • Whether or not updates were independent of carriers
  • How long a device is supported with security updates

The top-rated brand was Apple, scoring green in all categories. Of Android brands, just two scored reasonably highly.

Apple's had an embarrassing rough patch of bad software bugs in the past few months, but they're the fastest in the industry at patching it up.

The iPhone Upgrade Plan is a Game-Changer →

Jan Dawson:

So why is this a big deal? Well, the reasons are fairly simple: it allows Apple to take over the primary relationship with the customer, relegating the carrier to a secondary role in relation to their device purchase. Yes, you’ll absolutely still have a direct relationship with the carrier, but it will now be exclusively around the service plan and you’ll no longer be dependent on the carrier for upgrading your device. You’ll now be able to put your carrier on autopilot while you have a much more active relationship with Apple, upgrading annually on a set schedule.

My favorite part about this is how it forces the carriers to compete. Looking forward to better reliability, customer service, and more competitively-priced service plans as the carriers bend over backwards to retain customers.

How the iPhone Can Grow in Emerging Markets →

Viranch Damani:

One possible solution is for Apple to sell refurbished devices in countries like India. In the US, the shift to leasing plans such as T-Mobile’s Jump on Demand and iPhone Forever program will make people return their iPhones every time they upgrade.

If these returned iPhones are refurbished, packed and sold again by Apple in emerging countries such as India at reduced rates they would sell very well. This will have two possible solutions:

  1. Apple would not have to develop a low-cost iPhone for emerging markets and risk possible cannibalization of the high-end.

  2. These refurbished iPhones, sold at reduced rates, will not only help Apple boost sales significantly but will help them maintain a good experience for the end users which is very important for Apple’s business model.

While all of the carriers are moving away from subsidizing to on-demand upgrading, all of these returned iPhones at the end of each lease will have to end up somewhere.

This is something that Android or Windows will never be able to do, simply because they don't have Apple's brand strength or smartphones that maintain a high enough resale value.

For Apple, U.S. carriers, iPhone users in the U.S, and potential iPhone customers in emerging markets, this is simply a win-win-win-win.

There is No More 'Mobile Internet' →

Benedict Evans:

For as long as the idea of the 'mobile internet' has been around, we've thought of it a cut-down subset of the 'real' Internet. I'd suggest it's time to invert that - to think about mobile as the real internet and the desktop as the limited, cut-down version. […]

Mobile is not a subset of the internet anymore, that you use only if you're waiting for a coffee or don't have a PC in front of you - it's becoming the main way that people use the internet. It's not mobile that's limited to a certain set of locations and use cases - it's the PC, that can only do the web (and yes, legacy desktop apps, if you care, and consumers don't) and only be used sitting down. It's time to invert that mental model - there is not the 'mobile internet' and the internet. Rather, if anything, it's the internet and the 'desktop internet'

Another great argument by Benedict, with several solid charts to boot.

Android's Achilles' Heel →

A security writer, loyal Android user, and self-proclaimed Apple-hater, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, explains why he's saying goodbye to Android:

Google still has very little control over software updates, and Android users are basically at the mercy of their carriers and phone manufacturers when it comes to getting updates or new operating system versions. For example, it took Sony more than six months to push Android 5.0 Lollipop to its new line of Xperia Z phones, despite the fact that it had promised for a much shorter turnaround after Lollipop was released by Google. Just for comparison’s sake, when Apple released iOS 8 in September of last year, it immediately became available for all iPhone users, even those with an 2011 iPhone 4S.

As security expert Cem Paya put it, that was a conscious decision Google made when it created Android. Paya called it a Faustian deal: “cede control over Android, get market-share against iPhone.” Basically, Google was happy to let carriers put their bloatware on their Android phones in exchange to having a chance to fight Apple for in the mobile market. The tradeoff was giving carriers and manufacturers control over their Android releases, leaving Google unable to centrally push out operating system updates.

Some carriers and manufacturers are better than others, it’s true, but they all pretty much suck when it comes to pushing updates. There really isn’t a better way to put it.

As security researcher Nicholas Weaver put it in a (now deleted) tweet, ”Imagine if Windows patches had to pass through Dell and your ISP before they came to you? And neither cared? That is called Android.”

Some people look at the mobile landscape as a battle of brands/fanboys: Google vs. Apple.

Some people look at it as a battle of ideals: open vs. proprietary.

But really what it boils down to is a battle of execution. With a closed, proprietary system, Apple is able to execute their vision faster than anyone else. When Google wants to push security updates or new features to all Android users, they simply can't.