This is a busy time of year at Apple Inc.’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. For much of the past decade, the technology giant has chosen September to launch new versions of its golden goose, the iPhone. Indeed, Apple is set to unveil several new iPhone devices at yet another splashy gathering on Tuesday. 

While Apple’s executive team is expected to be energized as always, the high profile event comes at a time when Apple’s iPhone business model has clearly evolved.

In reality, Apple does not need to convince the world to buy a new iPhone. The company has already said there are more than 900 million iPhones currently in use around the globe. By my math, that’s more than 10 per cent of Earth’s population.

Certainly the bells and whistles being offered with the new lineup of iPhones could appeal to some people on the planet who have yet to buy an Apple smartphone.

But Apple itself is not betting on some mad rush of new iPhone buyers, beyond its current base.

If it was, the company would likely still reveal how many new devices are being purchased each quarter. 

Recall last year, when Apple announced it would no longer disclose individual iPhone sales in an attempt to shift Wall Street’s attention from the slowdown in iPhone uptake to its faster growing services unit.

Indeed, with more than 900 million active iPhone users, there’s plenty of opportunity to sign up customers for monthly add-ons, such as Apple Music. And no doubt Apple has high hopes for its upcoming Netflix-like television offering, Apple TV+.

In the company’s most recent quarter, services revenue grew 13 per cent to a record high of US$11.5 billion – an encouraging sign for Apple bulls, despite being modest, when compared to the nearly US$26 billion in revenue that was directly tied to iPhone sales in the same quarter.

The truth is, the iPhone is no spring chicken.  The first device was introduced more than a dozen years ago. It changed the world and opened the door to incredible growth for a new generation of app-focused tech companies, such as Airbnb Inc., Uber Technologies Inc., Slack Technologies Inc. and Snap Inc.

If this year’s iPhone event ends up being anticlimactic, that won’t change the business story behind Apple. There’s a limited need to raise the bar or shock the crowd. This time around, it’s about pumping out a few fresh models to keep customers happy, not to mention putting the spotlight on its golden goose once again. 

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