Ten years after Apple unveiled its first device, customers and the telecom industry are anticipating the iPhone 8 launch later this year. Consumers should take a keen look past video imagery of Tim Cook roaming the stage in his headset, showing off the latest iteration’s new features. What lies beneath the iPhone 8’s glossy casing? Or, to be more direct, what isn’t there?
Over a decade of dominance, Apple has succumbed to the hubris and presumption that have brought down so many giants before it. Rather than incorporating the best innovations, Apple now resorts to intimidating its partners, while locking consumers into their products rather than earning their loyalty.
The result is inferior products and, in the instance of the iPhone 8, slower speeds thanks to Apple’s desire to beat competitors into submission rather than improving their own services.
Barring a last-minute concession by Apple, the iPhone 8 will be significantly slower than its main competitor, Samsung’s Galaxy S8, in tapping into cellular networks. This is not because of a lack of technological capability, but due to a stubborn unwillingness to pay for processing innovations from Qualcomm, a major Apple supplier.
Apple Doesn’t Want to Cough Up for Quality
According to a recent report by CNET, the modems and processors Samsung uses, including Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 processor, can work with an advanced form of 4G wireless technology called Gigabit LTE. Apple, on the other hand, designs its own processor, with modems coming from Qualcomm and Intel. While Qualcomm’s modems are capable of handling Gigabit LTE, Intel’s latest commercial-ready modem won’t be able to hit Gigabit LTE speeds. To ensure all of Apple’s phones operate the same way, Apple may choose to slow down Qualcomm’s modems, limiting the phone’s full potential.
This intentional slow-down is called “throttling,” and Apple, according to recently filed legal documents, is already doing it, possibly on the iPhone you are using to read this article. For the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, the slower Intel modems went into T-Mobile and AT&T iPhones, while Qualcomm modems went into Verizon and Sprint iPhones.
As is the case today, Intel’s modems in the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus were not on par with Qualcomm’s, which, according to field tests, are capable of downloading 600 megabits per second. Intel’s modems, on the other hand, top out at just 450 megabits per second. It also appears that Apple stifled the Verizon modems to be fair to its AT&T and T-Mobile customers, so all phones operate at the same speed. In fact, according to Qualcomm, Apple used threats to prevent the difference between phones becoming public knowledge.
C’mon, Apple, It’s Not Like You Don’t Have Money
All of this unnecessary drama should leave consumers wondering why they are getting slower phones just so Apple can win a corporate spitting match. It is not as if Apple is struggling to make profits, as the company already earns 90 percent of all global smartphone revenue. Apple also reported on its recent earnings call having over $250 billion in cash on hand mostly held overseas, a jaw-dropping amount greater than the combined market value of corporate giants Walmart and Procter & Gamble.
Clearly intimidation, supplier buyouts, and potential threats are Apple’s new modus operandi. Beautiful design and customer service are no longer key; instead crushing competitors and stifling innovation are the preferred technique. That has become hallmark of the Cook era, eschewing design and vision in exchange for profits. This is a long way from Apple’s original corporate vision. In many ways the company is becoming what it has long argued against.
If Apple doesn’t change its practices, the result will be new innovators arising to displace it. Competitors will use the faster chips and consumers will begin to “think differently” about their phone of choice.