iPhone 5C: Why It'll Launch Alongside The iPhone 5S Tonight
The iPhone 5C makes a lot of sense, as Michael Grothaus explains, so expect to see it launched alongside iOS 7 and the iPhone 5S tonight
The internet has been awash in rumors that Apple is set to unveil a low cost (don’t call it “cheap”!) iPhone at tonight's iPhone 5S launch event. The jury's still out on whether we'll see a plastic, colourful, iPhone launched alongside the more-premium metal-clad iPhone 5S. But I'm pretty confident it is going to happen.
But first: some context.
All rumors point to it being called an iPhone 5C and it is supposed to have a plastic polycarbonate shell, a 4-inch Retina display, come in multiple colors, and, of course, run iOS 7. Analysts are saying Apple could sell such a device for US$300-400 without a contract.
I know, I know: “Apple doesn’t do low cost,” you may say. But here’s the thing, they’re going to start doing it – at least in the mobile space. Why? Here are four reasons why I think we’ll see a low cost iPhone next Tuesday.
Until recently, the United States and Europe where the places where the major tech companies made a majority of their bread and butter. After all, consumers in the US and in Europe, on average, have a much higher disposable income than consumers do in other countries around the world.
But, there’s something that the rest of the world has more of than the US or Europe: people.
The high-growth economies of the 21st century will be the so-called BRIC ones: Brazil, Russia, India, and China. The last one in particular, China, has a population of over one billion people, and though its citizens earn less on average than most Americans, the sheer number of them makes an insanely attractive market to any tech company – particularly because with the growth of the Chinese economy in the 21st century, the disposable income of Chinese citizens is only expected in increase.
So if Apple can cut some manufacturing costs by making an iPhone with a plastic body and sell it for the equivalent of US$300 – or free on contract – China is an extremely tempting reason to do so.
The BRIC countries aren’t the only reason for Apple to make a cheap iPhone. There are plenty of other emerging markets in South America, Asia, and Africa whose citizens’ only access to the web is via a mobile phone.
Again, the sheer scale of the total population of these markets is more than enough reason for Apple to try for a low cost iPhone without sacrificing quality. The used iPhone market is already tremendously profitable among third-party sellers in these locals, so if Apple can become the primary seller of its devices in these markets, they could ensure that their customers there get the latest devices, software, and technology – all of which ensures customer lock-in.
Android, in my opinion, is an inferior smartphone OS. However, there’s no doubting it’s getting better all the time and, frankly, a lot of non-techies don’t care what brand of smartphone they have as long as they can check their email, surf the web, and browse on Facebook. And makers of Android handsets know this, which is why you can walk into any mobile phone high street shop and see dozens of low cost or free on contract Android smartphones.
Whether Apple likes it or not, free is a powerful marketing tool and Android will be the dominant mobile OS for years to come. If Apple has a hope of competing with Android in the future, it needs to get as many high-quality, low cost handsets into consumers’ hands as possible.
Right now you can buy cheap iPhones. These come in the form of the three-year-old iPhone 4, the four-year-old iPhone 3G (which can still be found in some shops), and numerous used iPhones for sale online. However, Apple is big on a unified ecosystem and relying on selling a model that is several years old to customers means having a unified feature set is practically impossible.
A cheaper iPhone solves this problem, and more. So, there you have it. My 2p on why Apple will launch a cheaper iPhone handset alongside the iPhone 5S next week.