AWT News Update: January 28, 2016

Speculation is running rampant about this year's crop of iPhones, and there are some interesting statements that have come out of various sources that are giving us an idea of what may happen...or lead us totally down the wrong path:

  • Cirrus Logic CEO talks in circles about Lightning-based headphones and manufacturing costs
  • Facebook adds live video for iPhone users in the USA
  • Nikkei says that the 4-inch iPhone (6c or 5se, your choice) is already in production
  • Apple's going to have to step up sales in emerging markets to increase or maintain global market share

Text version of the podcast is below, video is here

Text Version

Hi, I’m Steve Sande from Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for January 28, 2016. Our sponsor this week is younity, a powerful cross-platform personal cloud solution for Mac, PC and iOS. Check it out on the AWT website today, or click the link found in today’s show notes.

Remember just a few weeks ago… or maybe it was just last week… when everyone was panicking about the iPhone 7 possibly coming without a headphone jack, using the Lightning port instead? Well, during an earnings call with Cirrus Logic, which supplies the audio components for Apple products, CEO Jason Rhode commented on what could be coming in the future. Rumors had said that Apple would build noise-canceling headphone technology in the next-generation iPhone, and Rhode noted during the call that “There are definitely people considering putting it in box… any time somebody talks about adding content inside a box, inside the box it ships with the phone, you can imagine the agonizing that goes into any additional micro-penny that gets added to the box.” Rhode also mentioned Lightning-based headphones, saying “The amount that we can talk about that outside of other folks who are Made For iPhone partners is relatively limited, but yeah, there’s things that are up and running via the MFi program that people can take and design with today.” This fall’s introduction of the next iPhone could be really interesting from the audio standpoint from both the Lightning headphone rumor a and rumored wireless earbud solution from Beats.

Those of you who watch our Periscope broadcast of the News Update podcast know that it’s kind of interesting to watch the news rather than just listen to it. Well, Facebook seems to have caught the live broadcast fever, turning on live video broadcasting from the Facebook app for all iPhone users in the United States today. Both Meerkat and Periscope pioneered this space last year, and it’s fascinating to see how Facebook worked it into the app. You just Update Status, then select Live Video. You can write a quick description of what’s going to happen, then select the audience that you want to share it with. Don’t worry, though, we won’t be switching our daily Periscope over to Facebook because the Live Video feature doesn’t work with pages like the one we have set up for Apple World Today. But we may look into it if and when the feature does expand to other countries and to Facebook pages.

According to the Japanese financial newspaper Nikkei, the 4-inch iPhone 6c or iPhone 5se — whatever you want to call it — has been in production for a while. The company has apparently decided to release the new model this spring primarily for sales in emerging markets like India, Thailand, and China. Those are the markets where less expensive models pulled in a lot of market share during the past year or so.

And I’ll end today’s podcast with some research figures from Strategy Analytics. Global smartphone shipments grew 12 percent annually in 2015 up to 1.4 billion units. Unsurprisingly, Samsung captured 22 percent of global smartphone marketshare as the first place supplier. Linda Sui of Strategy Analytics noted that shipments of smartphones slowed to the smartphone industry’s slowest growth rate of all time in the last calendar quarter of 2015. She said that “Smartphone growth is slowing due to increasing penetration maturity in major markets like China and consumer worries about the future of the world economy.” Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, was even more direct in his concern about Apple’s iPhone, saying “Samsung is widely rumored to be launching its new Galaxy S7 flagship model in the coming weeks and this should enable Samsung to consolidate its smartphone leadership. Apple shipped 74.8 million smartphones worldwide and captured 18 percent marketshare in Q4 2015, barely changed from a year earlier when it delivered 74.5 million units in Q4 2014. Apple's iPhone growth is peaking. Apple will have to expand into new markets like India or Nigeria if it wants to reignite iPhone growth in 2016.”

I’ll be back tomorrow with another edition of the AWT News Update.