iPhone X and the critics’ Festival Of Wrong
Getting Apple wrong is hardly anything new. Apple naysayers and wrongness share a rich and glorious history.
Remember, Apple failed when it created a computer that works with a mouse; when it left the floppy drive out of iMac; when it forgot how to innovate after iPhone; when it built a watch nobody wanted; when [your favorite fail here].
But history be damned. Following three years of physically unchanged iPhones, iPhone X was a target many critics couldn’t resist.
The result? We were treated to a veritable Festival Of Wrong, served up by countless critics in four distinct phases.
Phase 1: Pre-announcement
A rumor is a wondrous thing. It allows negativity to thrive before a little thing like reality gets in the way.
In the months leading up to the 2017 iPhone launch event, we knew there would be a “10th anniversary iPhone.” We knew Face ID would replace Touch ID. And, horror of horrors, we knew it would have a notch — which served as the naysayers’ starting bell.
Then the rumor emerged that iPhone X was suffering delays. It might not even ship until 2018, missing the holiday season entirely — generating even more negative press.
Good lord, Apple. Is there no end to your ineptitude?
Phase 2: The unveiling
Once Apple revealed iPhone X, the second-guessing could truly begin. Because, although we could see the features, no one would actually spend quality time with the product until it shipped more than a month in the future.
As expected, the notch was a lightning rod for negativity. It was slammed in countless opinion articles, and even took fire from many who have long shared Apple’s values.
Daring Fireball’s John Gruber—
It offends me. It’s ungainly and unnatural … I think Jony Ive either lost a bet or lost his mind. It looks silly, and to pretend otherwise is nonsense.
Apple made the wrong choice with the notch… It’s ‘ugly,’ ‘messy,’ and it ‘mars’ an otherwise gorgeous device.
The truth is, design is one of the most subjective things on this planet. What’s “different” to some is a “disaster” to others. But hold that thought.
During the launch event, we got an impressive demo of Face ID — with an untimely glitch that didn’t go unnoticed. In a parade of articles, critics questioned how secure Face ID really was, or if it would really work. Some found it too complicated. How dare Apple take away our beloved Touch ID?!
The kicker, of course, was the $1,000 price tag. Clearly this would scare off all but the most devoted fans. Surveys said so!
Phase 3: Alarming iPhone 8 sales
Bad enough that iPhone X was delayed. Now, for the first time in history, initial sales of iPhone 8 were trailing initial iPhone 7 sales from the previous year. A dispiriting one-two punch of failure.
Except for one little fact. This was also the first time in iPhone history that initial sales did not include the flagship model. But hey, why wait for iPhone X when the warning bell can be rung today?
• Apple iPhone 8 Early Sales Data Aren’t Encouraging (The Street)
• ‘Anemic’ iPhone 8 demand drags Apple shares lower (Reuters)
• Concerns over ‘anemic’ iPhone 8 demand, production cuts weigh down Apple (Chicago Tribune)
And, of course, one imaginary problem leads directly to another. iPhone X better sell really well — or else.
• iPhone 8 Posts Weak Initial Sales, Pressuring iPhone X (Wall Street Journal)
• Apparent weakness in iPhone 8 sales turns up pressure on Apple (Market Watch)
• Apple iPhone Price Under Pressure As Buyers Seek Cheaper Devices (Bloomberg)
Phase 4: iPhone X preorders
For those cataloging iPhone X failures, price was the low-hanging fruit. A thousand bucks for a phone? Ha!
Then preorders opened. Within minutes, iPhone X supplies were depleted, delivery time slipped to weeks and the AAPL stock price hit a record high. The “too expensive” argument vanished in the blink of an eye.
You’d think that after all these years, more analysts would understand the business model that built the world’s most valuable company. Apple sells premium products to people who believe its products are worth a premium price.
Surely a $1,000 price would blow up this model — until it didn’t.
iPhone X ships, the truth emerges
With an iPhone X in hand, reviewers and customers could actually give iPhone X a real-world workout, evaluate its features and judge its horrifying flaws.
The verdict: iPhone X is an undeniable hit. AirPods aside, I’d say iPhone X has received more attention, and more rave reviews, than any product in recent Apple history.
That “ugly, messy, unnatural” notch? Most reviewers felt it disappeared in everyday use. (Personal opinion: never bothered me for a second.)
That overly complicated Face ID? Fear turned into delight. (Personal opinion 2: it’s effortless and instant—worthy of Apple’s favorite word, “magic.”)
No Home button? Turns out that gestures make the Home button feel as modern as the steam engine.
A naysayer’s work is never done
And so it was that one of Apple’s most criticized unshipped products turned into one of its most successful shipping products. Hundreds of negative articles and predictions proved to be flat-out wrong.
True, some will loathe the notch till their last breath, but the vast majority of paying customers see a superb device that’s worth the money.
However, if you’re a fan of endless negativity, cheer up — because apparently nothing can stop a determined naysayer from saying nay.
• Your iPhone X is already obsolete (US News)
Yes, Apple is rumored to be working on three even better models for the 2018 holiday season. Better wait for the good ones.
• Now Apple must show what’s next after iPhone X (MarketWatch)
Literally five days after iPhone X shipped, MarketWatch issued their challenge. You’re on notice, Apple!
Embrace the inevitable, enjoy the show
Just as Apple exists in a competitive world, so do its critics. In the Apple opinion business, it pays to be an early responder, and there’s rarely a downside to sticking one’s neck out. Retractions are rare and life goes on.
So the best advice is — enjoy! This show has been playing for more than 20 years, and it won’t be closing anytime soon. Think of it as “fake news for the rest of us.”
Here’s to a happy, opinionated 2018!