Apple Inc. unveiled its latest iPhone as the company seeks to reignite sales of the smartphone that has propelled much of the company’s extraordinary growth over the past decade.
The new phone, called iPhone 7, removes theheadphone jack but includes a new “home” button, a new camera system and a sharper screen, among other new features. Questions, though, remain whether the changes will be enough to reignite excitement about the iPhone.
Ahead of the announcement, Apple also showed off a new game based on the Super Mario videogame character and its next-generation smartwatch, which will include a wrist-top version of the hit mobile game “Pokémon Go.”
Chief Executive Tim Cook began the event in San Francisco with a taped video involving late-night host James Corden driving him in a version of the comedian’s “Carpool Karaoke” skit. The skit included the two singing “Sweet Home Alabama” with musician Pharrell Williams.
— Marco della Cava (@marcodellacava) September 7, 2016
Earlier this year, Apple agreed to distribute a new series based on the “Carpool Karaoke” segment.
The new Super Mario Brothers game, called “Super Mario Run,” isn’t the original one but instead is a version that was designed specifically for a touch-and-tap experience. The product is expected to come out in time for the holidays; pricing information wasn’t immediately provided.
Apple called its second-generation smartwatch, Apple Watch Series 2, which behaves essentially the same as the original but is water resistant, includes a built-in global-positioning system and offers versions that include a ceramic case and a Nike-geared edition. The new watch goes on sale Sept. 19 for $369 and up, and the older Watch will drop in price to $269.
— Ed Baig (@edbaig) September 7, 2016
Sales of Apple’s phone have been falling as consumers wait longer to upgrade, and Apple faces fresh competition from rivals including Samsung Electronics Co. and HuaweiTechnologies Co.
Much of the anticipation around the event Wednesday centers on the phone’s headphonejack. The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this year that Apple planned to eliminate the 3.5-millimeter jack, to make the phone thinner and improve its water resistance. Critics panned the idea, but some believe the move may push the technology industry into more widespread adoption of wireless headphones.
Analysts had speculated that the new models would have two camera lenses—to improve image quality, particularly on wide-angle and close-up shots—and a pressure-sensitive home button, incorporating technology used in Apple Watch.
The iPhone propelled Apple’s extraordinary growth in recent years, making it the world’s most valuable company. But the glow from Apple’s initial large-screen models, introduced in 2014, has faded. Revenue from the iPhone fell 23% in the quarter ended June 25, and Apple shares are down 4.9% over the past 12 months.
Shares of Apple slipped 13 cents to $107.57 in afternoon trading.
Analysts expect the new phones to boost Apple sales next year. UBS Group AG expectsiPhone unit sales to decline 9% for Apple’s current year, ending Sept. 24, but to rise 5% in the year ending in September 2017, to 222 million units.
By Robert McMillan