back to article Apple rubbishes rumours of iPhone for the masses

Apple has denied that it is considering increasing its market share and beating off competitors with a cheaper iPhone. Rumours went around earlier this week that the fruity firm was getting a cheap mobile ready for market, but marketing chief Phil Schiller told a Chinese newspaper that Apple was doing no such thing. "We are not …

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FAIL

"We are not like other companies, launching multiple products at once and hoping that one of them becomes popular with consumers"

What an arrogant little man.

Just cements my overall view on Apple.

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Or rather: We are not like other companies, launching a range of products to give people a choice, which would make us popular.

The unprofessional sneering is apparent - and untrue; Samsung even with their range of many products, have had many massively successful hits. Whilst their flagship S3 became the single most popular device - quite telling given they have many products, to Apple's one per generation - even their "niche" devices like the Note have sold millions. They outsell Apple 2-to-1 on Android phones alone, that's before we consider the extra 10s of millions of other phones they sell a quarter. "Hope one becomes popular"? Yeah right.

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Thumb Up

"Or rather: We are not like other companies, launching a range of products to give people a choice, which would make us popular."

I think he's conveniently forgetting the half-dozen flavours of MP3 player that they make.

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Anonymous Coward

Yup, and the only size for a tablet is 10"

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FAIL

Other Models

"We are not like other companies, launching multiple products at once and hoping that one of them becomes popular with consumers".

No.. instead you release the same phone at difference prices, charging $100 more depending on which $10-$20 SD card you have installed. And that price is full retail, I imagine Apple might be able to get a better price on SD ram than I can. So there you go, if Apple were to buy their SD Ram from Walmart at full retail they could probably shave around $150 off the price of their most expensive phone and still make a 100-200% profit on the RAM upgrade between models and at the same time present the cheaper model for the masses.

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Re: Other Models

Yes, but then there wouldn't be all these people (see above) comparing them to BMW and Mercedes because they cost more.

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The gap between Android and IOS application numbers is neglible - Google Play hit 700,000 only one month after Apple, and last I heard was growing faster. Though comparing raw numbers has always been a poor comparison anyway, especially as on Android, Google Play isn't the only place to get applications.

"individualised apps for both the phone and tablet devices"

So wait - there are 700,000 for Android that work on a range of devices, but how many of the IOS 700,000 work on all? Does this mean the new iphad mini doesn't have many apps yet?

And phone/tablet aren't two distinct categories, rather there's a continuum of sizes - plus in fact, Apple now have _4_ sizes (3.5", 4", 8", 10"). So now do developers have to write 4 versions of each application? Or perhaps having a UI that intelligently works on a range of sizes (as all modern UIs do) was the more sensible approach long term.

"A major change to the OS would mean a major change to the hardware."

It would? Well that's a problem for them then.

Sure, no one has to catch up; Nokia sell shed loads of dumb phones all year round too.

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Stop

Um, no.

The thing that you're missing is that most models in a given range only differ by their DPI. iPhone 3GS -> iPhone 4 was a simple doubling of resolution in each direction. Update an apps resource file to include extra bitmaps with the same name as the existing ones but with @2x on the end of the name and the system automatically picks the right one for you. The same when it came from moving to the iPad 2 -> iPad 3, just add extra bitmaps. The iPad Mini looks to software like an iPad 2, so no changes there. With the iPhone 5 Apple update the SDK so that it could automatically reflow forms on larger screens. Code had to be updated to use this.

So developers need to write code to support the iPhone (using the reflow) with two sets of bitmaps, plus if they want to support the iPad they need a set of forms designed for that (again with 2 bitmaps for everything). One program, two sets of forms (phone and iPad versions of the app), a maximum of 4 bitmaps for each item on the form (if you can't share the bitmaps between phone and pad) otherwise 2 (low and high DPI).

The problem that Android has is the concept that one size suits all. In practice iOS developers have made significant changes to their forms to make use of the extra screen real-estate. That's where Android is at a disadvantage in the App marketplace - there are only something like 10,000 apps that have been coded for Android to make use of a bigger tablet screen vs 300,000 for the iPad, and many of the gaps are from big-name providers.

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Anonymous Coward

Android has a lot of apps (nearly as many as iOS) but the quality is lower. Lets face it devs will develop for both markets - they would be crazy not to - Android = volume, iOS = profit.

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Anonymous Coward

Android = vanity

iOS = sanity

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Re: Um, no.

"The problem that Android has is the concept that one size suits all."

False - Android also has a concept of sizes, and developers have the same ability to provide different resolution bitmaps. IIRC the sizes are categorised into 4 sizes, which matches the 4 sizes you claim for IOS.

Not that providing just one bitmap is a problem, as any decent API can happily scale it for you - this is 2013, not 1990.

I know that Apple's platform unfairly gets more attention and support from companies, despite fewer users - I do wish this would change. I suppose we should be glad it's not as bad as the lack of support for Symbian (number 1 platform until 2011). But still the question remains - whilst people might write two versions of a UI, where's the support for the new 8" device? And as you note yourself, apps don't support the iphone 5's size, and have to be recoded. Meanwhile, new Android sizes Just Work, and an Android phone at 5" isn't that different from a 7" device anyway.

I would also question your numbers - my apps haven't been rewritten for larger sizes, but they don't need to be - are they counted in your numbers, or not? In many cases, a well designed UI can scale to different sizes. Please don't tell me IOS requires UIs to be designed in something absolute like pixels, that would be stupid.

A 10" tablet is still an oversized phone - an ultra-portable laptop with a real OS is always going to give a better optimised UI for the space, anyway.

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FAIL

"Android = vanity

iOS = sanity"

So Apple isn't the aspirational high-end model sold on style and cool factor?

What planet are you living on?

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Stop

Pretty unlikely

If they do release a cheapo iphone it would deffo lower the brands value. Iphones are seen as a bit of a status symbol amongst the less intelligent consumers and Apple in general are percieved as a `premium` brand. Infact its probably their best usp, take that away and they are just another generic seller of Chinese manufactured tat.

And what would they cripple in the cheap device in order to tempt people to still buy the more expensive version? It still has to run most ios apps unless they want to be in the same empty appstore boat as winphone8/blackberry so cpu,gpu,memory etc cant be knobbled too much. I suppose the battery, gps and screen could be skimped on, but considering cheap Android phones now have pretty good specs in this area they would be hard pushed to make it look like a bargain.

So no, I dont think they will release a peasant edition iphone in the near future.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Pretty unlikely

Samsung have no usp - lenovo, motorola, asus, lg or anyone could make the new super duper Android phone and that in the one people will buy. Samsung make no ongoing revenue (unlike Apple) so when the wind changes it could change quickly for Samsung.

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Joke

Re: Pretty unlikely

Apple are going to make an iPhone nano - an iPhone with no screen! It only does calls - you say to it "Siri, call work" and it calls 999

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Anonymous Coward

Apple users are generally a lot more loyal (recommending to friends and very high in the 'would buy again' ratings) - Samsung are not. As soon as Google (LG) make enough Nexus 4's where does that leave Samsung with their S3? The Android makrketplace is far more competitive and will have downward pressure on prices and therefore margins.

So Samsung may make the preferred Android handsets now but does anyone seriously imagine that could not change with 12-18 months as contracts come due for renewal. My Samsung microwave is ok but when it breaks I would have no hesitation in buying a Panasonic / someone else.

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Meh

The lower end iPhone is the previous model iPhone. Always has been.

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Anonymous Coward

I know iphones are cool, I saw a smackhead waiting for his methadone at the chemist earlier brandishing one.

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Anonymous Coward

Oh well that proves it - I'm sure no smackheads have Android phones.

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Joke

I don't know why you are so surprised...

...There's an app called iDose - its used by many smackheads to make sure they don't OD - its the market leading smackhead app and its only available on iOS!

The firm that makes it also does one for the iPad that turns it into a handy mirror to snort lines of coke off from too!

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Anonymous Coward

I think your missing the point. The iphone is supposedly a status symbol and you can only afford one if your the rich elite. I don't doubt for a minute that smackheads have android phone but android phones aren't a fashion symbol which iphones are (according to the ponces that own them)

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Meh

Many people buy Android phones because they are cheap. But they dilute the brand by the fact that although some are great, others are just terrible hardware. People on The Reg buy their phones by technical stats, their Android experience tends to be very good, the average person gets what's cheap and shiny. Ever ask a normal non tech person what cpu is in their phone? You get a blank stare.

The one big drawback to Android is the uneven user experience. "For non technical people anyway" You can have two phones running Jelly Bean and one will be great, and may even have an actual warranty, another will be utter jerky crap that its maker treats as a red headed stepchild and won't even look at.

The one big advantage of iPhone is consistency. You don't have to wonder if a given App you download will run if its rated for your phone, or that your phone won't be repaired/repairable if you do need service, or that you will be without a phone for a week to a month while you wait for a manufacturer to ship out another. And that's a consistency the non tech market appreciates.

Android is very much the phone as a computer, and that's good. the iPhone is the phone as an appliance and that's good too. Both of there things have their markets and their uses.

Now watch me get thumbed into the ground for suggesting both sides have valid points.

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Stop

I'm not going to vote you up or down, but point out that if you bought something, you have a warranty.

You and others have also mentioned this idea that if the phone goes wrong you speak to the manufacturer - but I don't have a contract with him/her, I have a contract with the selling agent and it's them that are on the hook to sort out my issue.

Like any other purchase, if the purchaser does no sort of analysis into what they want or gets no opinion (other than bloke in shop), then caveat emptor applies. We're talking about a few hundred pounds here, not sure about anyone else but I don't randomly spend money without finding out at least a modicum of information about what i'm getting.

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Pint

"Android is very much the phone as a computer, and that's good. the iPhone is the phone as an appliance and that's good too. Both of there things have their markets and their uses."

I think that's a bit of a blanket-all statement. Tech users certainly *often* prefer Android phones and many Android phones are used by the technically astute, but that doesn't encapsulate even 20% of their user base; it's simple perception bias (from reading stuff on techie sites about them and those sites being used by techies who tend to favour them) coupled with them being good for that role. I think it's pretty safe to say that the majority of Android users *don't* tamper with it excessively and just use them. That rather belies the Apple "It just works" thing, because for a large number of Android users "It just works" too.

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Anonymous Coward

It's not as simple as just having a warranty - my Samsung failed - sure they took it back but I was without a phone for almost a month (unacceptable). My wife's iPhone failed - went to Apple Store - 20 minutes later all resolved. That is a massive difference as I ended up buying a new phone so overall it cost me a lot more.

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That's just the "Mac vs PC" fallacy where you compare Apple to the very worst of other manufacturers. If we look at manufacturers (which most people do - I'm sure plenty don't have a clue what an "operating system" is, especially on their phone), then I could say people get the same standard experience on say, a Samsung phone. Indeed, I could say "If you get a Samsung phone, you get quality, but if you went with someone else, you can't get that guarantee", and suddenly Apple look bad, simply because I've lumped them in with everyone else.

"You don't have to wonder if a given App you download will run if its rated for your phone"

Whilst it's true it's harder to support larger numbers of devices - that's the downside of choice, but there are plenty of upsides too - there is not one IOS device. There are now 6 iphones, 4 ipads and 1 ipad mini, which is also non-trivial for many developers to support and fully test.

"Android is very much the phone as a computer, and that's good. the iPhone is the phone as an appliance and that's good too."

This statement is meaningless - what's an "appliance" versus a "computer"? Most people use Android phones as phones or appliances, without thinking of them as computers.

"Now watch me get thumbed into the ground for suggesting both sides have valid points."

But that's not what you said at all, you wrote a comment arguing only on one side. Sure, I agree it's much a matter of opinion.

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Meh

Its a tough choice either way. I'll try for a more partsian reply.

I stand by what I said. and I've run both. They are close enough that no matter which one I use I miss part of the other.

As to appliance VS computer. Ok, I'll pump Android a bit.

My Nexus 7 was very much more a computer than my iPad, I could use multiple apps to do things that iOS has ONE answer for, and no alternative. I could pick my media players, I had browser choice. It seemed I could pick a lot more in actual utilities. And I HAD a real FILE BROWSER! That I really miss. Its far more flexible than the iPad. It's much more like having a small computer. I enjoyed it and I'd not be adverse to owning anther.

The iPad is once again, more like having a TV set. "Or a really big iPod" You turn it on it works, its no prying in the innards policy makes it reliable and idiot proof. But the constraints are chafing. Inability to load some kind of files without playing "Mother May I with iTunes" gets old. Like side loading books with Drobox, On the other hand as a media playback device I like it better, and I prefer it for web browsing. And some of my favorite games don't seem to have android ports "yet"

I'm not against he Android. I wish I could have kept it, but I couldn't justify having money in two tablets. If I had not gotten the iPad as an Xmas present I'd still have it. And I tell the people who ask my advice their options and why they both have their good points.

So there, a positive Android argument? Better? Hopefully I clarified myself a bit.

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That's fine for you, and for me. We know what we are looking for and what we are buying. If you read this site, this is not a problem you have. (And often as not a problem you understand) For people who live and breathe computers its very hard to internalize that to a lot of people the computer is an impenetrable magic box.

But I've run into this time and time again here. Most people on El Reg keep forgetting we are NOT the "normal people" sadly the vast majority of the unwashed masses don't even know what questions to ask. They ask a friend who is "good with computers" or go by what someone said on TV.

Ask a few random non tech people what CPU their phone has. Most will give you a blank stare. Ask resolution, ask memory. You might as well be speaking Sanskrit.

And yes our warranty situation in the US is not as good as it is across the pond, but if you live in a major city, repair/replace on an iPhone is usually same day. Try to go to most shops to get same day on your Android in the US, and a teenager who would rather you leave will tell you to "Send it to the manufacturer" This is one place Apple is currently ahead of the game over Android, and its one of its stronger selling points. You play Apple a big wad of cash and its their problem. I'm not saying its the best solution, only a very popular one. Especially to people who's only idea of whats wrong is "it stopped working"

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Anonymous Coward

Reuters have now withdrawn the report

"No replacement story will be issued"

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/01/11/us-apple-iphone-idUSBRE9091CR20130111

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Holmes

We aren't making that...

Ergo, they are. Aha.

<< Sherlock, obvious.

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They rubbished the rumor of a $99 phone, not a cheaper iPhone

Going from having a $649 phone (with $549 and $449 as the last year and two years ago models) to a $99 to $149 model the rumors started talking about is ridiculous. You can't make a quality smartphone for $99 even if you sell it for free. Those that sell that cheap are smartphones in name only, no one using an iPhone or a high end Android phone would consider them smartphones at all.

If Apple does this, they'll try to make it for $120-$150 and sell it for $249 or $299, but it will have a few limitations making it unattractive as a replacement for the real iPhone in first world countries, such as no LTE capability. That price range would open them up to a wider market but still allow them to create a quality product.

The market share gained by selling $99 phones is worthless, and even Android will be priced out of that market soon enough - the $5-$10 rumored to be payed to Microsoft for each Android phone becomes huge on a product that sells for $100, so an alternative like Firefox's phone OS or some Chinese made OS that doesn't have to pay Microsoft will take over the low end market as it moves ever lower. But that lost market share will hurt Android only in the sales stats, those customers are essentially worthless so it won't matter.

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Trollface

"The fruity firm wants to be the smartphone leader."

Has anyone informed him of the definition of leader?

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Anonymous Coward

Leader could mean many things - profit leader (probably), technological leader (subjective), single manufacturer, high end smartphone leader (perhaps).

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Leader can be about profit, too

Apple IS the leader on market profit. That's more important than leading on volume, at least to the stockholders.

Apple has had much the same issue in desktop computers... maybe that's a good example. They sell about 5% of the world's PCs (they're called Macintosh, but they're pretty bog standard PCs in nice packaging), but about 90% of the world's PCs over US$1000 retail. You can look at that as being overpriced, or Apple being a luxury brand, but the fact it, the average Mac is about twice as expensive as a similar PC from other companies. As a result, Apple's making 5x as much profit per Macintosh. This is reflected in their corporate profits, too, which run at just over 30% operating margin. At HP, it's about 5.7%.

So let's say Apple decided to increase market share on Mac PCs. Their best bet would be to lower prices. So let's say they matched HP on pricing. That might be very successful, at least to start -- it's like if Leica started selling their cameras at the same price as Panasonic, or BMW selling their cars for prices similar to Ford. But now Apple's only making HP-style profits. They'd not just have to sell, they'd have to sell like crazy, particularly because, once there are cheap Macs, it's going to be much harder to sell expensive ones. So their 5% of the business would have to grow to 20-25% of the business JUST TO BREAK EVEN. That's highly unlikely of any single company in the PC business. They'd not only need lower priced hardware, price-tag competitive with all those other PC companies, they'd need more device diversity than they have now. Apple's selling nearly the same thing on every PC, they're selling iMacs -- effectively laptops for the desktop -- part of making all that profit. Much of that would have to go away.

So, in short, they'll never do that -- they're happy with their 5% of the market, and sure, they'd like to see it increase... but only by more consumers deciding to spend $1000 for a $500 PC in a nice case. That's really what MacOS is for -- to convince people to spend more money on Apple hardware. And they have actually been growing, slighly, or shrinking less, depending on the quarter, versus the rest of the PC industry. Largely due to the iOS "coattails" effect... consumers buy iOS devices, then get lured into Apple's desktop offerings.

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There's always a cheaper iPhone -- last year's model.

This is actually the perfect strategy for Apple. If they're looking to save money, that money is better spent cost-reducing the existing models, rather than build a whole new cheap phone.

Think about how well this works. Apple's discounting older models because they're older and something newer is available.. not because they're cheap models. They might completely re-design the iPhone 4 for cost reduction, or not, but it's still the former premium model, just for less. Little risk that owners of older iPhones upgrade to the iPhone 4, it's more likely that upgraders would go for an cheap-new phone. But for folks without iOS devices, the cheap iPhone offers a great entre into the Apple ecosystem, and a valid competitor to the cheaper Android devices. If the cost of the iPhone 4 has already been reduced, they get their entry-level model for free, and already fully debugged -- much less engineering time, once again keeping Apple's bottom line up.

And it's not just the price, but Apple's market position here -- Apple's long term financial health being protected. Apple is the most profitable mobile device company because they have enough people convinced to spend way more than average for their devices, even when technologically superior devices are available for less money. That's the same thing that BWM and Mercedes and Leica have managed to do. Apple has spend billions, since the 1970s, building that image. Releasing a "cheap" iPhone would tarnish that image... same reason BMW doesn't release a Ford Fiesta clone at the same price, or why you pay an extra $1000 or whatever to get that red circle on your Leica, rather than buying essentially the same camera with the Panasonic label on it. So while it may be true, even likely, that the iPhone 4 you buy today is dramatically cost reduced versus the iPhone 4 when it first shipped, it's still a former Apple premium model, being sold for less because its older, rather than the "cheap iPhone". That preserves Apple's cachet, and yet, lets them have a cheaper model.

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