Every September for the past decade, Apple has convened the world’s media for a marketing event celebrating the creative prowess behind its latest iPhone. He highlighted the shine of the phone’s exterior, the sculpting around its cameras and the power of its processors.
But this year, Apple’s elite designers and engineers adapted their creative process and marketing extravaganza to the design demands of European regulators, who passed a rule mandating USB-C charging on electronic devices.
On Wednesday, Apple revealed that its new product line, the iPhone 15, would ditch the company’s proprietary Lightning port in favor of Europe-mandated USB-C ports. The company’s newest iPhones feature a slightly larger and rounder charging jack than its predecessor, but capable of providing faster charging.
The rule aimed to reduce electronic waste and save customers money by making a port compatible on a range of devices. Although Apple has resisted the change, warning that government mandates could stifle innovation, it will allow the same USB-C cord that powers a Mac to be used to charge an iPhone.
In addition to the iPhone, the company revealed its wireless earbuds, the AirPods Pro, with a USB-C charging case.
The change is a testament to how regulators are changing Apple’s business. Apple has positioned itself as the primary caretaker for the world’s more than 1 billion iPhone users by creating proprietary hardware and services. To reach these customers, app developers gave the company up to a 30% cut of their sales, and accessory makers paid a fee to make cords with Lightning ports.
But amid growing concerns about the power of tech companies over the global economy, governments have adopted rules and issued warnings that are forcing Apple to open up. In Europe, a 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 preventing others from using the iPhone’s pay-per-click capability. And in China, the government is cracking down on employees’ use of iPhones at work.
Government challenges are rocking Apple just as it tries to revive its business. Falling iPad and Mac sales have triggered their most prolonged decline since 2016. iPhone purchases, which account for more than half of total revenue, are slowing. And the sale of apps and services could be limited by government regulations.
“Apple is a victim of its own success, and everyone is chasing the big technology goals,” said Mike Frazier, president of Bedell Frazier Investment Counseling, an investment firm based in Walnut Creek, California.
In addition to the USB-C port, Apple touted other iPhone 15 improvements, including better cameras and smaller bezels around the screen. Its two high-end Pro models, which start at $999, feature lighter titanium bodies and processors made using an advanced manufacturing process that the company says significantly increases performance. It replaces the mute switch of previous models with a new button that you can press to use the phone’s camera or start an audio recording.
High-end phones also have the ability to record three-dimensional 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-of-the-line model, by 9 percent to $1,199. The larger phone features the most sophisticated camera in the lineup with a quintuple optical zoom, contributing 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 on last year’s iPhone Pro models, including last year’s processor and Dynamic Island, a power bar. tools at the top of the screen. The entire iPhone range offers wireless charging.
“It’s disappointing,” said Gene Munster, managing partner at Deepwater Asset Management, an investment and research firm based in Minneapolis. “But for the average person with a three- to four-year-old phone, that’s enough time to upgrade.”
Apple has rounded out the new iPhone lineup with updates to its Apple Watch offerings. An updated processor and software developments allow people wearing its latest watch, the Series 9, to answer phone calls by double-tapping their thumb and index finger together. It touted the watch as its first carbon-neutral product, saying it was made with 100% clean energy, carbon offsets and smaller packaging to reduce emissions associated with shipping the product.
The Apple Watch Ultra, aimed at outdoor enthusiasts, features a brighter screen and a greater altitude range. It also offers new features for cyclists who want to connect it to other performance measuring devices.
Apple unveiled the products in Cupertino, California, at the Steve Jobs Theater, the 1,000-seat underground auditorium on the company’s campus. The room was filled with journalists and employees. Millions more watched Apple’s infomercial for its new products online.
Tim Cook, Apple’s chief executive, used the iPhone event to remind customers of its new augmented reality headset, which it unveiled in June ahead of its release next year.
But even after the headset comes out next year, the iPhone will still be Apple’s business engine. The company sells more than 200 million iPhones a year, raking in around $200 billion.
Although sales of its flagship device have declined slightly this year, the iPhone has increased its dominance in the smartphone market. It has increased its percentage of the total smartphones sold worldwide. 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.