The WWDC keynote is over, and while developers will continue to learn about the latest techniques and share knowledge, it was all about the software (as expected). Tim Cook and this team did not announce any new hardware to the faithful. No iPads. No MacBooks. No Macs. No Mac Minis. And definitely not a new iPhone. Not even an update to the iPhone SE.
I wonder if that’s because there is no iPhone SE 2, or if Apple is slightly embarrassed about the incremental update it has planned?
Assuming Taniyama-Shimura, there are enough signs in the supply chain that an update to the iPhone SE is coming. So the question becomes not of ‘will it arrive’ but ‘when will it arrive.’
The obvious answer is that the presumptively named iPhone SE 2 is going to launch alongside the three new notched models in September – specifically the updated iPhone X, the iPhone X Plus, and the ‘budget’ iPhone X that will replace the iPhone 8. But these three models will focus on Apple’s typically high price points, all featuring notched displays, and all designed to portray the future. The iPhone SE2 will have a retro design, a lower price, and lack the sexy user interface elements that will be bigger up on stage.
Diluting the marketing message is not something that Apple is normally keen on, so this feels an awkward date.
The next best date would be one when you have the world’s attention, when you have everyone geared up for news, and when you have the time to explaining the thinking behind decisions as well as offering the handset some clear air to build up sales. That would have been at the WWDC keynote today.
I take on board that Apple has not launched an iPhone at WWDC since the iPhone 4, but ‘thinking different’ is part of Apple’s history. Was this year’s WWDC the time to disrupt the iPhone rhythm? In my opinion yes.
But the updated iPhone SE is on its way, and its non-appearance at WWDC tells us a lot about the handset. iPhone sales this year need a boost. The iPhone X has not delivered the super-cycle it promised and sales are flat to slightly down year-on-year. Market share is approaching single figures, and relying on high-end handsets with high margins may be delivering financial success… but it doesn’t provide for growth or entry into new markets. The iPhone SE 2 can help balance the equation of revenue and market share by offering a low-priced gateway into Apple’s world of smartphones.
So if not WWDC, and if not September, the launch has to be option three. The iPhone SE 2 is going to appear at some point in the future, with little to no fanfare. A quiet press release noting the changes to the iPhone SE, bringing in it up to date in broad terms, but not enough to upset the notched (er) apple cart. In other words the smallest viable upgrade possible to keep the money coming in with the lowest specification possible.
if Tim Cook had taken to the stage at WWDC to announce that, the chances are the time spent on the product would not be explaining the brave new world, it would have been trying not to embarrass the brand with a low-powered grab for consumers wallets.