I get it. All things considered, a new iPhone that looks new is going to be more exciting than one that re-uses an existing design. I also get that, for cultural reasons, this is particularly true in China. (Ben Thompson has been emphasizing this for years.)
But this idea that anything short of a radically new design is bad for Apple just isn’t true. Based on the above passage, a reader would logically conclude that iPhones sales are down because the industrial design is too similar to its predecessor. But Apple just reported the highest iPhone sales in a quarter ever. Again, if they can meet demand, an exciting new hardware design should drive sales even higher — but it’s completely wrong to suggest that the similar-to-the-6/6S design of the iPhone 7 has led to a slump.
Gruber is on to something.
One of the interesting things about the Japanese iPhone market is that Japanese like having the same design. Not everyone of course, but any new iPhone design gets lots of “I think I’ll pass” Japanese comments. The popularity of iPhone SE in Japan bears this out.
The reason is simple. Japanese iPhone users love to get expensive iPhone cases and want to use them as long as possible. For many I suspect there is more personal and aesthetic value in a handmade iPhone case. Apple would sell a lot more iPhone SE devices if they simply keep the same price, upped the base memory capacity and added a FeliCa chip for Apple Pay Japan compatibility. If iPhone 7S is exactly the same design of the current iPhone 7, all the better.