IF THE experts are to be believed then 2015 will see the rise of the neo-Luddite. A year when we discard our mobile devices, apps and social media and settle down to a less connected, more analogue way of life. Clearly, no-one has informed Apple.
Last week’s results from the US tech titan were eye-watering. Its quarterly profit haul of $18 billion (£11.9bn) was the biggest ever, by any corporation, in good times or bad. That’s $8.3 million each and every hour. During the three months, which included the Christmas trading run, the firm sold a staggering 74.5 million iPhones.
To the envy of its peers and detractors, Apple has generated a cult-like following, with its devotees drooling over ever more stylish and fanciful smartphones and tablets. Its believers are prepared to queue for hours, even days, to get their hands on the latest device. Few manufacturers of consumer goods attract such zeal.
Even in nations where the price of an iPhone should prove prohibitive to all but the most wealthy, you will find consumers foregoing mere essentials like adequate food and shelter to blether and tap away on a little piece of (anodised) aluminium and (Gorilla) glass.
Recently, the Cupertino-based company has been forced on the defensive amid accusations of profiteering and sweatshop conditions in its sprawling Asian production plants. It has also played down technical grumbles from users regarding memory capacity, battery life and obsolescence. Such is the price of success.
I doubt many at Apple HQ will be breaking into a sweat. The company looks like continuing this year where it left off 2014 – pursuing its own form of world domination. Rival Samsung may have posted better-than-expected profits last week, but they were still heading in the opposite direction to Apple’s. In the battle of the high-end smartphones, where coolness is king, the US giant is winning hands down.
Apple is certain to go on dividing opinion but making heaps of cash. This spring, the faithful will be beating a trail to their nearest emporium of all things Apple to get their wrists into the Watch – the firm’s take on so-called wearable technology, and its first major new product line since the introduction of the iPad in 2010.
And this is where Apple could come unstuck. Indeed, I pray that this little cog in the company’s ever-expanding ecosystem does flop. Lacklustre take-up of the Google Glass head-mounted display should act as a reality check for the proponents of wearable tech.
As a user of two smartphones, laptop, internet-connected television and myriad devices that boast Bluetooth and wi-fi this and that, I would hardly label myself a flat-earther. Neither am I anti-Apple, having owned a string of Powerbooks. But a wrist-mounted gadget that smacks of invention for invention’s sake and threatens to further detach many folks from reality is a step too far. Save that space for a nice timepiece and get a life. «