'A sense of panic in the air' at Apple over iPhone 8 -- should investors worry?

What if Apple's flagship tenth-anniversary iPhone 8 isn't ready for unveiling this fall? Does the sky fall in? Is Apple doomed?
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

Apple's unannounced flagship tenth-anniversary iPhone -- popularly called the iPhone 8 but even the name is a mystery at this point in time -- might be in trouble, and could ship with major features disabled. How much of a problem would this be for Apple?

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According to a report by Fast Company, a source claims that there is "a sense of panic in the air" on Apple's iPhone team as software issues are causing problems.

The problems seem to revolve around new features such as wireless charging and the front-facing 3D sensor that could be used for facial recognition to unlock the handset. According to the source, the problem isn't with the hardware itself, but the software that Apple is developing to control the hardware.

"If the company can't get the technology to work smoothly in time, my source said, it might ship the first phones with inoperable wireless charging hardware, then enable the feature later on. There's precedent for this approach: Over the years, Apple has sometimes shipped hardware but activated it later. The last example of this was Portrait Mode in the iPhone 7 Plus: The sensors and chips were built into the phone from the start, but the feature was activated only later on after the software was perfected."

Another good example of a product that Apple delayed because it wasn't ready for prime time was the AirPods.

If you're the sort of person who follows all the rumors and leaks, and has put together in your mind a fantasy iPhone 8 in your mind, then delays or the smartphone being shipped with a major feature temporarily switched off until a future update might be an issue, especially if the handset ends up costing in excess of $1,200, as current rumors suggest.

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Let's remember a few things:

  • First off, the majority of Apple buyers don't care about rumors and such, or at least don't seem to allow them to get in the way of buying things. If that were the case, the gulf between fantasy and the actual iPhones Apple has shipped over the past few years would have crushed the company.
  • Remember too that Apple hasn't said a word about the next iPhone, so even if it doesn't ship in September, or it ships with some features disabled, it's not delayed because nothing was ever announced (unlike the AirPods, which did experience a shipping delay).
  • It's far better to delay a product or feature than ship a buggy, half-complete device, especially a flagship device with a hefty price tag.

Ultimately, the iPhone 8 will sell on the merits of the product that Apple unveils, not the rumors, leaks, and fanboy mockups.

Bottom line, I don't see this as much of a problem.

Yes, it suggests that something might be amiss at Apple -- maybe it's biting off more than it can chew, or maybe it's not devoting enough resources to the iPhone, or maybe the tenth-anniversary iPhone is so special that it needs more time to cook -- but if true, this is little more than an internal issue for Apple to deal with and highly unlikely to derail the iPhone or doom the company.

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