The release of a new iPhone model often draws lines of diehards. (Photo/Shutterstock)


Stakes are high as Apple prepares to unveil the iPhone 8

USC digital communications expert Jeffrey Cole says the new device needs to wow its fans or the tech company risks a big loss of momentum

September 11, 2017 Ian Chaffee

Apple is expected Tuesday to unveil iPhone 8, the little personal computing device that changed the world. And the pressure is on Apple CEO Tim Cook.

“You would have to dive deep into business books to find a CEO at any company at any time in history who has faced a bigger challenge than Tim Cook at Apple faces right now,” says Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Cole notes that Apple fanatics were disappointed in the improvements that came with the iPhone 7: a better camera and processor. Those same fanatics then turned their attention to September 2017, the 10th anniversary of the iPhone.

“They argued, ‘Apple is saving the really great stuff for the iPhone 8 on the 10th anniversary.’ Maybe they are right,” Cole says.

But the stakes are high. “If all the fans see is an incremental improvement, then Apple becomes just another successful technology company — but one that is no longer the most interesting and loved company in the world,” Cole says. “Apple will probably have to look for game-changers in other areas such as cars or television.

On the other hand, Cole notes, “if the new phone does shock and awe the fanatics, then that will strengthen Tim Cook’s connection to the Jobs era.

“The stakes have never been higher.”