Every September for the past decade, Apple has invited media from around the world to a marketing event celebrating the creative achievements behind its latest iPhone. It has contributed to increasing the brilliance of the phone’s external appearance, the sculpting surrounding its cameras, and the power of its processors.
But this year, Apple’s elite designers and engineers turned their creative process and lavish marketing to the design requirements of European regulators, who issued a rule… Force USB-C charging via electronic devices.
Apple revealed on Tuesday that its latest product line, the iPhone 15, will ditch the company’s Lightning port in favor of European-mandated USB-C ports. The company’s latest iPhone features a charging socket that is slightly larger and more rounded than its predecessor but is capable of providing faster charging.
The rule aims to reduce electronic waste and save customers money by making a single port compatible across a range of devices. Although Apple has resisted this change, warning that government mandates could stifle innovation, it would make it possible to use the same USB-C cable that powers a Mac to charge an iPhone.
In addition to the iPhone, the company unveiled the AirPods Pro wireless earbuds with a USB-C charging case.
The change speaks to how regulators are changing Apple’s business. Apple has positioned itself as the primary gatekeeper to more than a billion iPhone users worldwide by building proprietary devices and services. To reach those customers, app developers gave the company up to 30 percent of their sales, and accessory companies paid a fee to make cords with Lightning ports.
But amid growing concerns about tech companies’ power over the global economy, governments have issued rules and issued warnings forcing Apple to open up. In Europe, new antitrust law will require Apple to allow iPhone apps to be sold outside of its App Store. In the United States, regulators are investigating the company’s practice of blocking others Using the iPhone’s tap to pay feature capacity. In China, there is a government campaign against employees using iPhones at work.
Apple faces government challenges at the same time as it tries to reignite its business. Declining sales of iPads and Macs have led to their longest period of decline since 2016. iPhone purchases, which account for more than half of total revenue, are slowing. The sale of applications and services may be restricted by government regulations.
“Apple is a victim of its own success, and everyone is going big in technology,” said Mike Frazier, president of Bedell Frazier Investment Consulting, an investment firm in Walnut Creek, California.
In addition to the USB-C port, Apple touted other improvements with the iPhone 15, including better cameras and smaller bezels around the screen. The two high-end Pro models, which start at $999, feature a lighter titanium body and processors made through an advanced manufacturing process that the company said dramatically increases performance. It replaces the mute switch found on previous models with a new button that can be pressed to use the phone’s camera or start an audio recording.
Advanced phones also have the ability to record 3D video, which can be viewed in the augmented reality headset that Apple will launch next year.
Apple raised the price of the iPhone Pro Max, the company’s top model, by 9% to $1,199. The larger phone features the most advanced camera in the group with five times optical zoom, which contributed to the first price increase for the iPhone lineup in five years.
The base iPhone 15 models, which cost $799 and $899, adopt many of the features available in last year’s iPhone Pro models, including last year’s processor and Dynamic Island, a toolbar at the top of the screen. The entire iPhone lineup offers wireless charging.
“This is disappointing,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management, a Minneapolis-based investment and research firm. “But for the average person with a three- to four-year-old phone, that’s enough of an upgrade.”
Apple has rounded out its new iPhone lineup with updates to its Apple Watch offerings. An updated processor and software advances allow people wearing its latest watch, the Series 9, to answer phone calls by tapping their thumb and index finger together twice. It described the watch as its first carbon-neutral product, saying it was made with 100 percent clean energy, carbon offsets and smaller packaging to reduce emissions associated with shipping the product.
Aimed at outdoor enthusiasts, Apple Watch Ultra has a brighter display and greater height range. It also offers new capabilities for cyclists who want to connect it to other devices that measure performance.
Apple unveiled its products in Cupertino, California, at the Steve Jobs Theater, a 1,000-seat underground hall on the company’s campus. The place was crowded with journalists and employees. Millions tuned in online to watch Apple’s commercials for its new products.
Apple CEO Tim Cook used the iPhone event to remind customers of the new augmented reality headset, which it unveiled in June ahead of its release next year.
But even after the headphones are released next year, the iPhone will still be the driver of Apple’s business. The company sells more than 200 million iPhones annually, raising about $200 billion.
Although sales of its premium devices declined slightly this year, the iPhone has expanded its dominance of the smartphone market. Its proportion of the total smartphones sold around the world has increased. In the United States, the device now accounts for more than 50% of smartphones sold, up from 41% in 2018, according to Counterpoint Research, a technology company.
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