Thanks to the iPhone SE it should be clear what Apple is doing to the smartphone market. While Samsung, LG, HTC, and others struggle to differentiate their products one from another, and struggle to make a profit, the industry profit king, the company that defines the premium end of the smartphone spectrum, has decided to go downstream and collect the rest of the profits it does not already own.
I told you so.
The iPhone SE is a diminutive powerhouse which competes well with a select number of features to Apple’s hot selling iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s models. Fewer features, smaller size, lower price. What’s not to like about that, especially if you love iPhones and don’t want a larger screen iPhone 6 or 6s? What’s not to like about that if you’ve tried the various and sundry Android models and can’t differentiate one from another but don’t want to spend money for a premium Galaxy Whatever because you can get the exact same functionality for a few hundred dollars.
Yours truly back in early 2013:
In marketing, differentiation is key. It didn’t make much sense for iPhone copiers like Samsung to make a smart phone with a screen smaller than the iPhone’s 3.5-inch form factor, hence, larger is different, and different is better.
Back then the iPhone’s screen was smaller and the trend was toward larger screens, and Apple found itself behind the curve toward larger is better– and more expensive.
Along came iPhone competitors with ever more larger screens; first 4-inch, then 4.5-inch, 5-inch, and now a 6-inch display. Huawei’s Ascend Mate is an Android-powered phablet; blurring the lines between a phone and a tablet. Try sticking that into your pocket.
That was three years ago. Since then, Apple stormed back with two larger models, now in the second generation, with a third generation merely months away. But what about the few hundred million iPhone customers who actually prefer a smaller device, yet want some of the newer iPhone features?
iPhone SE. This is the entry-level model which segregates itself by screen size. Smaller is less expensive. Larger is more expensive.
Again, three years ago.
The questions facing Apple watchers today are simple and straightforward. Does Apple need a smaller iPhone, say, an iPhone mini? And, does Apple need a larger iPhone, something akin to a 5.5-inch display?
Back then I said ‘yes’ and today I say bravo. Screen size is another differentiator in a long line of differentiations that Apple uses to compare and contrast iPhones with one another, and with Android and Windows riffraff on the market.
For example, why bother to spend money on an expensive Android smartphone when most of the functionality remains the same on devices for far less money. With the iPhone, Apple has segregated the devices based on just a few features, price, screen size, and physical size. That makes the iPhone SE and Apple’s treasured ecosystem more attractive to Android sufferers who aspire to something better but cannot justify the price of a Samsung Galaxy whatever because it does pretty much what their cheap Android knock off phone does.
Apple presents worthy to drool worthy differentiation from the high end of the mid-range, to the high end of premium end of the product spectrum. Samsung and others try with various iPhone-class devices with quality materials, good design, and high prices, but they cannot escape the fact that they have to compete with inexpensive Android devices with similar features at a much lower price tag.
Apple does not.