It’s the holiday quarter, folks, and you know what that means: Apple Inc. (AAPL) will be hauling in mind-boggling revenues as customers line up to get their hands on the latest and greatest from the world’s most valuable company.
That said, I doubt people will be lining up around the block for Apple’s newest product, the iPhone Smart Battery Case. AAPL surprised the tech community by releasing the unannounced case, which not only protects your phone, but charges it at the same time.
Apple claims it can increase talk time by up to 25 hours, and it works with the iPhone 6 and 6s models (sorry, Plus-sized models).
Sounds great, right? So why exactly is this so embarrassing for Apple and nerve-racking for AAPL investors?
Admission That The Battery Is Inadequate
By releasing the Smart Battery Case, AAPL is essentially admitting the smaller-sized iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s have unsatisfactory battery life. For a company that has always prized itself on making sleek, stylish, high-performance products that simplify the experience for the user, this is a departure from the norm.
Simply put, there shouldn’t be the need for a product that extends battery life — that should’ve been taken care of the first go-round.
Perhaps more disconcerting is the fact that the case is debuting just three months after the September release of the iPhone 6s … which means AAPL actually knew the iPhone 6s battery life was inadequate.
Who knows how many $99 cases Apple will sell, but as an AAPL shareholder myself, I see each sale as a confirmation that the company has strayed from its core values. Can we honestly imagine such a release happening under Steve Jobs? What’s next? Will Apple release the iPhone 7 next year, then sell you the camera separately?
The fact that CEO Tim Cook is already publicly defending the decision is also quite un-Apple-like. Apple shouldn’t have to defend itself. It’s a proven trendsetter.
Design Issues With Case Itself
Let’s recap AAPL CEO Tim Cook’s rookie move three-step: 1) He oversaw the release of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s, which both had miserable battery life; 2) He acknowledged and embraced this shortcoming by releasing a $99 Smart Battery Case, making AAPL look desperate and sloppy; and 3) He hastily rushed to defend the case in a Mashable interview, giving off an air of weakness and desperation.
It gets worse, though. The case itself is not at all sleek or aesthetically pleasing: There’s a noticeable hump on the back of it that users have been voicing complaints about. That was the issue Cook actually focused on in his defensive stand. Admittedly, there was a practical reason for the hump: It helps you slide the phone in and out of the case easily.
At the end of the day, this isn’t going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Alphabet Inc‘s (GOOG, GOOGL) Android may own the most market share in smartphones, but Apple makes dramatically more money by controlling both the hardware and software behind their devices.
That said, tech changes rapidly, and if AAPL loses its edge in design or ticks off customers too much through botched products and follow-on products like this, shareholders will have reason to worry.
As of this writing, John Divine was long AAPL stock. You can follow him on Twitter at @divinebizkid or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.