One of the key components to a successful marketing campaign (whether politics or gadgets) is differentiation. A product needs to be clearly defined vs. the competition.
How do competing Android and Microsoft smart phones differentiate themselves from Apple’s iPhone?
With Android, there’s not much visual difference between Android OS and iOS, so smart phone makers focused more on the latest and greatest hardware. One of the top differentiation factors is the size of the smart phone screen. For the most part, Android phones have larger screens than the iPhone.
Ditto for new phones running Microsoft’s Windows Phone OS, although the OS itself is markedly different than Apple’s iOS, it’s not sufficiently superior to incite iPhone users (or, Android users) to switch, hence Microsoft’s anemic smart phone sales.
Apple introduced the iPhone with a 3.5-inch screen. To differentiate their smart phones, other manufacturers when to larger screens. First 3.75-inches, then 4-inches, then 4.25-inches, some even at 4.5-inches and larger.
Yes, that’s differentiation. But, does size matter? Is bigger, better?
My take is simple. Apple’s 3.5-inch iPhone screen is the perfect handheld size. Most users can touch any spot on the screen with the thumb of the same hand that holds the iPhone. That’s certainly not true of larger smart phone screens.
So, the 3.5-inch iPhone screen size is perfect. Is it perfect enough? Probably not, hence all the rumors that Apple plans to ship iPhone 5 (the new iPhone) with a 4-inch screen.
Why? If 3.5-inches is the perfect handheld size, why switch to a longer or larger screen size?
Competition. That’s why Apple’s MacBook and iMac displays are glossy. Matte is better for the eyes. Glossy sells better. Apple’s 3.5-inch Retina display may be the best available on any phone, but to many users bigger is better. Size matters.
Apple wants the iPhone to remain the leader of the pack. Apple doesn’t want the iPhone to become the industry outlier, and look old, stodgy, small, and unable to keep up with competition. That’s the only danger in a 3.5-inch screen. Users are not able to discern that it’s the best sized screen on any phone.
Have no fear. Apple will dazzle again with iPhone 5 (the new iPhone; no number). Bigger, better screen. Thinner, lighter. More Siri. More apps. More iOS features.
But in this case, Apple knows when to hold ’em, knows when to fold ’em, knows when to walk away, and knows when to join the crowd. Apple’s a stubborn company. Look how long it took them to come up with a multi-button mouse.