In about 48 hours, Apple will announce what may well be the most important device in its history of incredible releases. This device will not be a technological marvel, it will set new standards in hardware specifications, and it won’t have any major whiz-bang software feature that will have the collective jaws of all of us drop across the world. Yet this is headline news as this new device will have a feature what Apple has never ever played with before – price!Cheap(er) iPhone: That Apple needs to introduce a cheap(er) iPhone is old news. It’s dictated by its falling stock price, forced upon them by lower sales numbers and it’s a compulsion drawn upon them by rivals who have forged ahead by hitting them with blows of more options and lower prices. Yet it needs to tread carefully as this one device may well determine its position, profitability and even its existence in many countries. One wrong step here could blow its entire portfolio to little bits as there could be a devastating ripple effect from a wrongly strategised cheaper product.
Fine Line: Just a lower priced iPhone won’t be enough. Apple will have to position this carefully. A cheaper iPhone that is a serious downgrade could damage Apple’s carefully cultivated aura and premium positioning that it has so meticulously built over the years. It could also have a devastating effect on the Apple Army that defends every Apple product with their life.
A cheaper iPhone that isn’t really cheap and has just a few cosmetic changes from its flagship could be worse, as it will have no major effect on its sales numbers and people may just prefer to spend a little more on the flagship device. And if they make the cheaper iPhone much cheaper and yet give it the whole Applesque aura and premium feel, it will cannibalise sales off its top of the line iPhone as everyone will buy this instead of that.
The Game: It’s a fine line that Tim Cook has to tread and 48 hours will reveal all. Cook has also said that he is going to clamp down on keeping things secret as he’s sick of leaks even before he hops on to the stage. All this makes for one of the most exciting little games of strategy, espionage, rumours, stealth and leaks. Thus I’m going to take this game a little further. I’m going to mash up all the top rumours, spy pictures, leaks and present it as a top 11 prediction report card. Against each of them, I’m going to give you a check box. At Apple, Tim Cook leads a quiet cultural revolution
Read and mark the ones you think I’ve got right or wrong and then revisit this 48 hours later, after all the announcements are done. It’s you versus me. Time to see who scores higher in this ‘I can get into Tim Cook’s mind prediction game’.
1. Apple will release two iPhones. The first will be an upgrade to the iPhone 5 and will be called iPhone 5S and the other, the iPhone 5C. The C in 5C does not stand for cheaper!
2. iPhone 5C will have a plastic or polycarbonate body (cheaper to produce, faster to churn out in production, differentiator between premium and economical) and will come in multiple coloured back covers.
3. iPhone 5C won’t have a retina display (no supply-chain problem, lowers costs, keeps margins high), will have a lower powered processor, will come with a lower resolution camera. Think all the specs of the iPhone 4S minus the retina display.
4. iPhone 5C will mainly be sold unlocked and its real target markets will be outside the USA. China and India will be its biggest sale points. It will release in countries outside the USA faster than ever before. Apple poised to ship iPhones to China Mobile: report 5. Now for the big one. The price! Rumours have it priced at around $399. That would be a disaster. It’s got be around $299 for it to really make a difference and bring in all those who have aspired for an iPhone but never considered it. $299 (dollar rates not going haywire any further) will also bring it into the magical Rs 20,000 and under category, which is a vital and psychological price wall for most Indian consumers. I’m going for $299, unlocked.
6. iPhone 5S. Yes, it’s going to be called the iPhone 5S and not the iPhone 6. Apple's highly anticipated iPhone 5S to have 31% better speed
7. Pretty much iPhone 5 in look and feel. Historically, Apple never jumps a generation cosmetically. iPhone 5 and 5S will look the same, the iPhone 6 will look different. Wary Apple testing large-screen iPhones?
8. The only big deal which really is a small deal is the gold iPhone. And if you’re conjuring up images of a loud, flashy, shiny gold phone, banish those thoughts and visuals. This is Apple - the king of understated. Think more champagne gold, muted and matte. Golden Calls: Will China embrace a champagne iPhone?
9. iPhone 5S will come with a serious upgrade on processor horsepower, one new Apple level feature hidden within iOS7, a much improved camera with dual shooting capabilities, much longer battery life (please, please do that Apple) and more on-board storage.
10. The biggest rumour is that the jaw-dropping killer feature will be a fingerprint sensor built underneath the home button. And while almost everyone agrees that this is true, I’m going to risk life and limb and call a bulls@#t on that one. It may come, but not on the iPhone 5S. Maybe on the iPhone 6!
11. No Apple smart watch and no new iPads will be announced alongside. It’s TWO iPhones! They aren’t going to ruin that incredible headline with even more devices muddying the waters.
That’s 11 predictions. Time to sharpen that pencil and start marking the checkboxes. I wish you and myself the best of luck. The game has begun!
From HT Brunch, September 8
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