Saturday, September 10, 2016

My Feelings About This Year's iPhone Preorder Process


It isn't often that I can say this, but I am feeling let down by Apple. Before that gets blown out of proportion, let me explain what I am talking about.

I became an iPhone customer back with the iPhone 4S - when the iPhone first came to Sprint.  Up until then, I had been a Palm Pre user and was enjoying WebOS.  Ever since the pre-order period for iPhone 4S, I have gotten up at 2:50am ET to place my preorder.  Getting up at 3am to order a phone seems crazy to most people.  But Apple fans understand.

And so it went, for each iPhone I purchased since then: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6S Plus.  I even did so for the orignal Apple Watch Sport order.

This year, in preparation for ordering iPhone 7 Plus, used the iOS Apple Store app to go in and tag my preferred iPhone and accessories as Favorites (blue heart) so that I could quickly place my order.

Everything that we had been hearing in the media, whether it be from journalists writing for newspapers or bloggers writing on news and fan sies suggested that there would not be a redesign this year.  The big, exterior case changing redesign that we have come to expect every other year would skip a beat in 2016 and would instead be held back until 2017 - the tenth anniversary for iPhone.  With this three year "tick-tock-tock" cadence for the current iPhone 6-series body style, the usual negative Apple headlines started rolling in.

"Apple's New iPhone Isn't a Game Changer, But It Might Be Good Enough" wrote Steven Russolillo on Sept 8.

Geoffrey A. Fowler chose "iPhone 7 First Look: Practical, but Not Jaw-Dropping" for his Sept. 7 headline.

"Apple's New iPhones Arrive, as Glow Fades" is my favorite headline from Robert McMillian's piece on Sept. 5 - a full two days before Apple's Sept. 7 press event to actually introduce the new iPhones.

Also from Sept. 5, Ryan Knutson and Thomas Gryta write "Apple's New iPhones Face Upgrade Challenges".

But coverage like this from the journalists and bloggers is to be expected.  After reading articles like these from The Wall Street Journal, you would think that virtually no one would want to buy such a ho-hum 2016 iPhone.

However, these headlines aren't the reason why I'm let down by Apple.  For that, we must turn to an August 5 AppleInsider piece by Matt Milano covering an investors note from RBC Capital Markets' Amit Daryanani.  In the piece, Daryanani suggests that one-third of all iPhone 7 sales will be that of the more expensive iPhone 7 Plus models.  The major differentiator of the larger iPhones has been its superior camera technology.  The iPhone 7 Plus continues this trend by offering both the standard wide-angle lense and a brand new telephoto lens.  In Milano's coverage of the RBC report, this new camera technology is expected to "be the culprit in limiting availability at launch, with suppliers expected to struggle to keep up with demand at launch" (Milano, 2016).

And this is where my feelings of being let down and disappointment with Apple come in.  Even after marking my favorites in the Apple Store iOS app and waking up at 3am ET to get my pre-order in nice and early, I still wasn't able to get my iPhone of choice on launch day.  I know.  I can't get a new cell phone on a day I want to get it.  #FirstWorldProblems.  Still, it doesn't change how I feel.

Over the years, I have built up this unrealistic expectation that Apple would reward it's most fanatical fans.  Notice that I didn't say their best customers.  I'm talking about fans.  Crazy people.  Like my Dad, Rob T., Mike C., and myself who wake up in the middle of the night to place an order for the newest Apple toy.  Let's also not forget the getting up early and the waiting in line extravaganza that was Apple Store Trumbull's opening weekend.  All of that was just so I could get a free Apple t-shirt.

I came to believe that if I was dedicated enough to wake up in the middle fo the night to order a new iPhone, i would be rewarded with the best new hardware on launch day.  As it stands right now, that won't be the case this year.  For me, the best part about Apple opening a new retail store, or selling a new gadget is the excitement about getting in line and being one of the first people to have the new i-Whatever-It-Is.  Apple long ago stopped attending East Coast trade shows, which themselves are all but gone now.  Without anything else to attend, launch day at the Apple Store provided that sort of excitement.  And bragging rights in nerd circles.

The sale of iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus starts on Sept. 16 - a week earlier than that of iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus which went on sale on Sept. 25.  I seriously doubt that one week would make any significant difference in iPhone 7 Plus manufacturing, supply constraints, or how many iPhone 7 Plus models would be available for sale around the world on launch day.

I know that I will have a new iPhone 7 Plus on Oct. 10, the day my preorder is supposed to arrive.  Since I have already taken Friday Sept. 16 off from work, I plan to get in the standby line at my local Apple Store at some absurdly early time in the hopes that I can still get an iPhone 7 Plus on launch day.

In the end, it's me, not Apple, that is the reason for my feeling let down.  Apple never guaranteed that I would be able to get the iPhone I wanted on launch day.  I know that, and I accept it.  But it doesn't make it sting any less.  But don't think I won't be stalking Apple.com and the iOS Apple Store app looking for an opportunity to snap up an iPhone 7 Plus sooner than Oct. 10.


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