Hype is building around the new Apple iPhone 7, which is expected to be released in September.
While consumers and tech heads get excited about the features that the next generation smartphone is expected to have, investors are taking a different view. With the latest rumors it looks as though Apple shareholders could suffer, writes Jay Somaney for Forbes.
Somaney weighs in on Apple shares
According to Somaney the tinkering with the iPhone was always going to end badly for the company and its shareholders. The writer has been saying so for nearly a year, and he says that he has now been vindicated in a big way.
Shares in the company are already below a C-note and look set to drop further. At the same time there has been a buyback increase and a boost to dividend payments which looks to have allowed CEO Tim Cook to keep selling stock at the same time as they vest.
The chatter around the iPhone 7 is very important in this conversation. According to 9to5Mac.com, renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has said that the iPhone 7 will be more of an incremental upgrade than a major overhaul.
iPhone 7 to bring minor upgrades
Kuo says that the iPhone 7 will have “modest changes” at best before the iPhone 8 brings a major redesign in 2018.
“So far, the biggest new thing for the iPhone 7 appears to be the addition of a dual-camera for better pictures, although rumors have indicated this will be exclusive to the 5.5 inch iPhone 7 Plus,” runs the report in 9to5Mac.
If the report does turn out to be true then shareholders should expect a rocky road ahead. At the same time insider selling looks set to continue as management stock awards continue vesting.
While CEO Tim Cook sounded upbeat on Apple’s prospects in India and the future of the iPad, it seems unlikely that either of these two factors will have a major influence on the company’s stock price. The iPhone SE may have started off well in India, but at $500 it is still out of the price range of most Indian consumers.
Customers unlikely to upgrade from iPhone 6s
It is obvious that Apple shares are cheap and its cash flows are massive. The company also has a huge cash reserve. However if it insists on making minor changes to the iPhone rather than shaking up the design, it looks like the company will stop growing.
That same thinking holds true for other product lines as well as the iPhone. And if growth stalls, the share price will drop even further.
After rounding up the latest rumors surrounding the iPhone 7, it is hard to see iPhone 6s owners clamoring to get their hands on one. The rumored upgrades just aren’t impressive enough.
The iPhone 6s already has a great camera, so the addition of a dual-camera system which offers better performance in low light isn’t a big enough draw. Making a thinner handset is not much of a priority for consumers, although it seems to be a priority for the company.
Is Apple meeting consumer demands?
Apple is reportedly considering getting rid of the 3.5mm headphone jack in a bid to make the iPhone 7 thinner than its predecessors. In fact this could backfire on the company as consumers are put off by the need to buy new wireless headphones.
Instead of making the new smartphone thinner, Apple would perhaps do well to improve battery life. The iPhone 6s has come in for concerted criticism over the length of time it can last between charges, with critics calling it mediocre at best.
While some rumors say that Apple has found a way to pack a bigger battery into the iPhone 7 while still making it thinner, the fact remains that the new battery pack could be even larger if the company kept the iPhone 7 the same thickness as its predecessor. As it stands it’s hard not to criticize Apple for losing sight of what is important to consumers.
Somaney says that he is still selling weekly calls against the shares that he owns in the company. In this way he is able to reduce the financial impact of the price drop, but it does not completely. eliminate the losses.
He adds that there is a painful opportunity cost associated with continued investment in Apple, a factor that shareholders have to consider despite their love of the company products.
Apple could be preparing us for a big year in 2017, but at the moment investors are facing uncertain times. If the iPhone 8 brings a revolutionary design that drives sales then investors could be laughing all the way to the bank, but the picture is far from clear.