SE-ing the forest: Apple’s cheap phone strategy


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Apple just took 86 percent of profit in the smartphone industry so that means it’s time to talk about units instead.

Writing for ZDNet, Adrian Kingsley-Hughes is not impressed with Apple’s current low-priced phone.

“This is why Apple needs a cheaper iPhone.” (Tip o’ the antlers to @JonyIveParody.)

$349 isn’t cheap?

I've said it before and I'll say it again…

…there is no valid reason why Arwen has to give up going into the Undying Lands to marry Aragorn but Legolas gets to take Gimli with him. It makes no sense.

…if Apple wants to sell more iPhones - and quarterly iPhone sales are the metric that many are using to measure how the Cupertino giant is performing -…


That will just make this a lot easier.

…then it needs to release a cheaper iPhone.

No, not the cheap iPhone it already sells. A different cheap iPhone. You’re cheap iPhone-ing wrong.

And I don't mean some hack device like the iPhone 5c or the iPhone SE.

Apple still sells the iPhone 6s and for $100 more than the SE, despite the fact that the SE is just as fast and gets better battery life. The only significant features the SE lacks compared to the 6s are 3D Touch (a technology that iPads don’t have, either) and a faster Touch ID sensor. And the screen size, of course, but iPhone SE owners consider larger screens a liability, not a feature. This iPhone SE owner, for example, isn’t really sure how the SE is a “hack device” unless it’s under the theory that all smartphones should be large enough to require actual hacks like Reachability to allow you to reach the far corner.

The company's health is measured in a great part by how many iPhones it can shift in a quarter, and right now sales are soggy. That puts Apple in a tough place - try to rewrite the narrative and move the focus away from unit sales (hard to do, especially since Apple itself has been responsible for putting the focus on unit sales over the years), or try to sell more iPhones.

Sure, it’s not like people claim Apple is hiding poor sales numbers when it declines to report units, as with the Apple Watch and Apple TV.

Narrator: “That’s exactly what they do.”

The iPhone 5c came in comedic colors…

Like “white”. Hahaha. “White.” Now you’re just making up colors, Apple. It’s not even a color! It’s all colors!

…and was made of plastic, while the iPhone SE adopted an older design.

A beloved older design.

Seriously, talk to an iPhone SE owner. Maybe it isn’t for everyone, but we iPhone SE owners love this design. And the SE has proved pretty popular. Fingers crossed, Apple may be refreshing it next month.

Other than slagging on the Macalope’s phone of choice, what prompts Kingsley-Hughes to write is a report from KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggesting Apple will release two 6.1-inch phones this year, one priced as low as $550. The major benefit of these it seems according to Kingsley-Hughes is that they will look the same as the iPhone X.

If you wanted a budget iPhone, Apple wanted everyone to know that you went for the budget model. While this was a compromise that worked for some, it didn't work for others.

Releasing a cheaper version of the iPhone that looks like the expensive one would satisfy those users who want the latest look but don't want to spend the big bucks.

Or, hey, maybe someone can make a case that makes a small phone look like a big phone with a notch for these incurable fops. Free business idea.

…there are a lot - and I mean a lot - of Android handsets out there in that $550 to $650 price range that are just awesome…

As long as you don’t care about actually getting the software update you thought you were getting.

“Verizon pushes Oreo to Galaxy S7, is actually Nougat.”

You got Nougat in my Oreo! Ah, the fun they have other there on Android.

Maybe Apple will introduce a new 6.1-inch phone at a lower price point this year, but the iPhone X shows that Apple still cares more about profit share than unit volume. That’s as it should be.

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