You may have noticed that Apple has reached the point where it has achieved market saturation. With an estimated one billion Apple-branded devices now active and one-seventh of the global population now owning either an iPhone, a Mac or a similar piece of technology, it is hard to imagine the company reaching out to new customers and growing through traditional means.
Instead, the brand has little choice but to diversify its operations, while also executing strategically timed product released and upgrades that add genuine value to the consumer experience. This should not be a major issue to a brand with Apple’s resources, but it will provide a challenge in terms of how the company continues to evolve over the next five years in particular.
Arguably, this new philosophy has been in evidence during the formative weeks of 2016. The brand recently announced that it was postponing the release of its second generation smartwatch (the Apple Watch 2), for example, as it responded to dwindling sales figures and demand by avoiding direct competition with Casio’s highly anticipated smartwatch release in March. The brand is also planning innovative and fundamental design changes for the autumn release of the iPhone 7 and similar handsets, moving away from the LCD technology that has underpinned the brand’s displays since 2007.
Instead, rumours continue to circulate that Apple is negotiating deals with LG and Samsung to use an alternative type of screen technology in the upcoming iPhone instalments. New displays would dispense with LCD technology and instead integrate advanced, organic light-emitting diode (or OLED to me and you) in a bid to deliver superior quality images and video performance. The quality would certainly be noticeable in comparison with LCD, which despite the industry standard for more than a decade has begun to look dated in recent times.
At face value, this will deliver an enhanced graphical experience whether you are taking photographs while on holiday or enjoying your favourite, free roulette games. Beyond this, however, it also represents Apple’s first substantive change in screen technology since the release of retina displays in 2010 and the first move away from LCD since the inaugural iPhone launch back in 2007. While the rumours should be taken with a pinch of salt given that they are unconfirmed and seem to contradict the brand’s historic stance on OLED technology, it must be given merit given Apple’s recent ‘trials’.
Regardless of what has been said or gone before, Apple is facing the type of challenge that it has previously avoided since the launch of the iPhone in 2007. Instead of growing market share, it must currently focus on strategically upgrading its devices and retaining a consumer base in the region of one billion. This is a nice problem to have, although it is bound to challenge existing thought process and the brand values that have underpinned Apple’s success to date. The switch to OLED displays may therefore be the first of many design changes as Apple look to embark on new and relatively unfamiliar territory.