For Apple Consumers, the iPhone Thrill Is Gone

PORTLAND, Ore. (TheStreet) -- The Apple  (AAPL) iPhone 6 gets its big announcement next month. Great.

Oh, investors will be jumping up and down, no doubt, and first week sales and shipment numbers will be coursing through the media bloodlines.

But as a consumer, seven years into the iPhone's lifespan, it's difficult to get excited about what are now incremental changes to the company's leading product. Even tech writers are wondering if anyone will care about the iPhone 6 and slight changes like larger screens, a broader palette of body colors or yet another version of iOS.

They will, of course. They'll still line up outside the Apple store the night before the first versions go on sale and they'll still buy millions of them, just as they did in the months before the iPhone 6 announcement. They just won't be incredibly excited about it, nor should they be.

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The iPhone is still a great technological achievement, but it's an everyday item -- on par with an appliance. A premium appliance, to be sure, but it's still just a Kitchen Aid mixer among Hamilton Beach and Sunbeam products. It's a Vitamix blender among Osters and Warings. It's premium enough to warrant a mid-three-figure price tag when it's unlocked, but accessible enough to be sold at Walmart (WMT) . If you're willing to settle for last year's model or even older, Verizon (VZ) , AT&T  (T) , Sprint (S) or T-Mobile  (TMUS) might just give you one for free with your subscription.

According to market research firm ComScore, iPhones are the device of choice for 41% of U.S. smartphone subscribers. The No. 2 smartphone brand, Samsung and its Galaxy line, has only a 28.6% share. No. 3, LG, has just 6%.

Globally, the iPhone finished 2013 with a 15.6% share of the market, according to research firm Gartner. That's down from 19% in 2012 and trails Samsung's 31% for 2013, but is still a dramatic lead over Huawei and LG's third-place share of 4.8% apiece and should get a nice bump after the iPhone 5/S/C generation ends its two-year run.

But that's just the problem: The iPhone isn't exactly some niche luxury device anymore and the game-changing features of past iPhones, including Retina display, high-definition cameras, Siri and even Touch ID fingerprint scanning, are yielding to changes that aren't necessarily device specific. The iOS 8 Continuity feature has more to do with integrating the Apple ecosystem of devices than it does with making the iPhone a better overall device.

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Bigger screens, a sapphire display, a fitness app? They're all features that iPhone owners will love, but with the exception of a potential sapphire screen, they're nothing smartphone users, Nike  (NKE) and Under Armor  (UA) adherents or even FitBit owners haven't seen before.

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