The cheaper iPhone

A plastic iPhone 5 costing roughly half the price of the standard Apple smartphone is due to launch soon, it has been claimed.

Source: Telegraph

Remarkable if true. According to the Isaccson biography, Jobs shied away from plastic on the iPhone because it was easily scratched. Plus, it’s naturally going to feel cheaper given that the materials aren’t up to the same standard of the iPhone 5 or 4S.

Apple could clearly manufacture this kind of device if it wanted to and needed to. Do either apply?

The people most obsessed with Apple gaining market share are the press, analysts, bloggers and pretty much everyone else and not Apple itself. The obsession with getting the biggest market share isn’t something that Apple has ever seemed to be very concerned about. Especially if it compromises its self-avowed commitment to quality and superior user experience.

Given the materials cost would be lower the company should be able to maintain its margins but the thought of Apple doing a budget device seems to be an anathema to its ethos. My wife has a Samsung Galaxy Ace. It’s a budget phone and works perfectly well but the look and feel isn’t something I could see Apple being happy putting its logo on.

From the same article:

The company announced a record 47.8 million iPhones sold but Wall Street expected more. A cheaper version of the device is seen as essential by some analysts, particularly if Apple is to make inroads into the growing Chinese market.

In response to the results, Trip Chowdhry, an analyst with Global Equities Research, said: “Apple will need to innovate. For Apple to renew growth they need to come up with new devices.”

I’m not sure slapping a plastic back on an iPhone 5 counts as innovation.

The Chinese and Indian markets are clearly vast and important to any company. I’m just not sure that selling plastic iPhones is something Apple is willing compared to just selling older devices such as the 4 and 4S.

I can’t think of a single time in the last 10 years or so that Apple has done anything on a budget. Even the iPod Shuffle is quite expensive for what it is.

So does Apple want to sell a cheaper iPhone? Only if it’s desperate to break into the “young, middle-class consumer” market the Telegraph talks about. Break it into a market with less spending power while simultaneously compromising its values.

Does it need to? Wall Street may think that the company isn’t selling enough iPhones but with 47.8m sold in the last quarter I’m not sure Apple would agree.

UPDATED 4.3.13 : So, Warren Buffet agrees. Fuck ’em, do what you love.

About admin

Some of the stuff I do: journalism, blogging, cooking, product management, marketing communications and being a dad to two little girls. Two cats, also. I’m head of publishing and product development for a UK government website and I write for content marketing agency Collective Content. For years I wrote about Apple under the Seb Janacek byline.