Fans of the Apple brand might not want to read many of the headlines surrounding the company this week. It has been 13 years since the company announced a first quarterly sales decline. That isn’t good news for consumers or investors, and probably shouldn’t come as a shock, either. It made sense that Apple would need to keep well ahead of smartphone competitors in order to keep the sales flowing. This is something the company has managed to achieve. However, the iPhone brand has recently become seriously rivalled, especially by Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S7. Apple’s claim to having the best built-phones was once a real attraction and selling-point for consumers, but now the S7 has called Apple’s bluff. This has certainly left Apple searching for ideas, yet it’s the alternative options which also excel within the performance and features department. The one thing that does remain unique to the Apple brand if, of course, the operating system, iOS – but is this enough? Absolutely not. As Apple’s competitors continue to innovate the smartphone market, it will soon, once again, be the US. juggernaut company’s turn to either wow or disappoint the market with the launch of the iPhone 7. You can’t help but feel that this could be a pivotal period for the future of the iPhone brand and possibly Apple as a whole moving forwards. It should also be noted that other products, including the Smart Watch, haven’t received the mass-appeal popularity from which the company wished to grow. Importantly, the news promoted a decline in the stock value, creating a sharp 7% dip. What’s more, it seems obvious that the company has been relying on growth markets such as China over recent quarters, which helped to bring a false kind of success that was never going to continue long-term without a great unparalleled product at the forefront.