IT was a world-changing invention, without which some Dorset businesses would not exist.

But love for the iPhone may have cooled, with sales sliding and Apple issuing a revenue warning.

Apple blamed the state of the Chinese economy for the dip in sales, but analysts have suggested that western buyers have also been reluctant to upgrade to models costing as much as £1,000.

Nick Gyles, chief operating officer at Bournemouth firm WDS Mobile – which gathers data about the mobile industry – said: “Apple users are generally more loyal than customers of other brands and don’t often switch away to Android. Many customers remain loyal due to their investment in iOS Apps and ‘lock in’ to the Apple ecosystem – iCloud, Photos, Apple Music etc.

“The problem for Apple is that they haven’t provided distinctive new features in recent models. It’s almost impossible to tell an iPhone 6, 6S, 7, 8, X or XS apart by looking at them. Since the introduction of Apple Pay with the iPhone 6S there haven’t really been any major new features added to justify spending up to £1,000 on a new device.”

He said many people were holding onto older iPhones, changing the battery if necessary and switching to ‘SIM-only’ deals.

“The wider problem for Apple is a younger generation of users moving straight to Android. Without an initial loyalty to Apple, they will compare cost and features and realise that the latest flagship device from Huawei is a higher spec and lower cost than a two-year-old Apple model,” he said.

Leon Lindblad, founder of Poole-based CFA Trading – which refurbishes corporate tech – said: “Smartphones have reached a plateau. There is little innovation in the industry, which is the real factor. Basically you have a camera, a phone and a battery, which have all got incrementally better; Apple have just combated this by increasing the price of their phone. Unit sales peaked in 2017, but Apple increased their margin to factor this in.

“However, let’s put this into perspective. Apple issued the profit warning saying that they will make eight per cent less. This means they will still make 35billion dollars net profit in the quarter instead of 42bn. They also have a cash reserve of 258bn. As a company they could wipe out the UK national debt and still have change to buy GM, Ford and Chrysler outright.”

He pointed out that Apple’s services and subscriptions were still growing.

Jeremy Lawson, who managed several Carphone Warehouse stores, now works for Poole business telecoms dealer Grapevine.

“There is definitely a trend towards people holding on to their phones for longer and a move towards SIM-only that we have noticed with incredible deals on offer,” he said.

“The last big launch that I did at Carphone was the iPhone 6 in October 2014. Since then improvements in features and performance have been small.”

Rob Anderson of Verwood, an infrastructure solutions architect at JP Morgan, said: “I’ve been an iPhone user since the iPhone 3G and have upgraded very regularly over the years – sometimes every year. I decided against upgrading last year simply down to functionality versus cost of the new phones. Apple obviously pushed up the price of its newest models. The effect was that I stopped to consider the purchase – probably for the first time. On that basis I didn’t upgrade and choose to wait another year.”

He added: “The reality is that the smartphone market is actually still new. No one knows exactly what a consumer is prepared to pay for and this will be a lesson for Apple, as it was for the premium Apple Watch.”

Bournemouth software engineer Lee Colclough said: “I’m definitely holding onto my mobile devices for longer. It used to be a struggle to wait for an 18-month contract to expire – my previous Samsung S6 phone lasted me three years.

“Whether this is a facet of the increasing power and decreasing novelty/innovation of these devices, or simply that I’m getting older is difficult to discern. I left the Apple platform some years ago when I discovered I could have a more capable Android device, with more features and better inter-operability for 30 per cent less cost – a percentage figure you could increase further if you count the incredibly capable non-flagship devices available now.“Over £1,000 for what feels to me like a £700 phone because it has an Apple on it seems silly considering Apple devices no longer have the cachet they once had.”

Paul Higgs, a governor at Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “I am very much an Apple fan. However the cost of upgrading to the latest model has become impossible to afford on a regular basis. A new model will also be superseded by yet another quite quickly. It is just too expensive to keep up.”

Jay Filmer, a tech manager and web developer from Bournemouth, said: “Apple is selling its most expensive phones at a time when the yearly iterations are at their least compelling from an impulsive-upgrade point of view.

“I last upgraded a few months after the iPhone 6 Plus came along, mainly because I wanted the much larger screen. Since then, I’ve not upgraded. There’s no need – my phone continues to work well for what I use it for, and nothing about the new phones make me want to spend such a large amount of money on them.”

Max Wilcock, business manager at Hays Digital Technology in Bournemouth, said: “The price has risen and buying the handset outright is a no-go for most people, but going from £45-50 per month to £53-£58 per month to get the latest handset wasn’t viewed as that prohibitive in isolation. The problem for me is that the strides and advances between models have become too minute.

“The mass market want a good camera and a nice resolution, but only the real tech enthusiasts want to boast about OLED or QLED or whatever they turn to as a major USP.”