Why customers may want to think different about the consumer-tech giant.


1.”Our customers are worn out.”

All that initial excitement over the first iPhone or iPad has quickly given way to what analysts are dubbing “upgrade fatigue” — with even Apple’s most loyal customers upset about the steady stream of newer models. In fact, when people buy Apple’s latest product, the company is usually already preparing its replacement, says technology consultant Patchen Barrs, who has owned 25 Apple products over the last 20 years. “Everything we buy from them is already out of date,” he says. Take a count: Since 2001, there have been six iPods, two iPod minis, six iPod Nanos, four iPod Shuffles and four editions of the iPod Touch. Apple has released five iPhone models since 2007 and has had three iPads since 2010.t

Of course, newer models have their upsides: They’re usually slimmer, faster and have additional features like better cameras and improved screen quality. And Apple (AAPL: 621.70, 0.97, 0.16%), which declined to comment for this story, has said that such improvements more than justify the fast pace of their new additions. (In March, for example, Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said the latest iPad delivered a “stunning” screen display.) But that argument isn’t enough to appease some cash-strapped consumers. Almost 50% of consumers say they’re increasingly unwilling to buy new products for fear that they will be rendered outdated by even newer versions, according to a recent survey of 2,000 people by Marketing Magazine in the U.K.

What Apple Won’t Tell You

5:03Customers may want to think different about Apple, as SmartMoney’s Quentin Fottrell discusses on digits.

It doesn’t stop with devices, say experts: Software upgrades also gently nudge people to buy new hardware. Last month, Apple launched a new version of its Airplay software, which virtually connects Apple gadgets and can beam video from computers to Apple TV. But the new Airplay is not compatible with iMacs and MacBook Air computers bought before mid-2011. Some Mac owners expressed their unhappiness online. One irate Mac customer wrote: “I don’t care how much you plan for obsolescence, there is no way that new software should not be backward compatible for at least a couple of years.”


2. “Be careful of that app.”