But uptake has slowed.
Apple still refuses to play in the down end of the market
Last month I wrote a piece called: A cheap iPhone 5x? Fuggedaboutit! After going out on a limb like that, I had a bigger dog in the fight at this afternoon's iPhone announcement than most of you. After all, I could have ended up with egg on my face after my bold prediction.
But as it turned out, I feel vindicated. Apple did announce a less-expensive phone, the iPhone 5C, but it's not designed to compete with cheap Androids in China and India as so many had predicted.
Apple doesn't do cheap and this colorful alternative could be aimed as much at young people in the US and Europe as it is at overseas markets. For US buyers, the price points are quite attractive: 16 GB for $99 or 32 GB for $199 -- with a contract. If you want to go off contract, you are going to pay a very steep price: $549 for 16 GB, $649 for 32 GB.
As technology journalist, Rob Pegoraro put it on Twitter: "That doesn't seem so cheap." No, no it doesn't. But for $99 with a two year contract, you get a brand new iPhone that's got basically same specs as the year-old iPhone 5 (which is being discontinued). For many people, that's going to be good enough.
And let's face it, the 5C has a high-end retina display and a very decent A6 processor. Remember a year ago -- it was top of the line! People are not exactly slumming by going with this model.
For those like me, who don't go for the bold colors, there's the 5S and its 64-bit super chip that's going to blow away the iPhone 4 I'm currently using -- at least if you believe the performance chart they displayed at the launch today.
But it's the 5C and its colorful plastic body that has everyone chatting because Apple has always been so reluctant to go down-market, even if it didn't really go that far down. As Dan Rowinski, mobile editor for ReadWrite pointed out in a Tweet earlier today, "5C pricing is not actually 'new' at all. Not in the slightest. If there was no 5C, the iPhone 5 would have been those exact same prices."
When you look at it like that, Apple didn't have to make much of a stretch at all. It's also interesting to note from a supply chain perspective that both models introduced today have the same 4 inch screen, which is also the same as the iPhone 5. Jessica Lessin, writing in her blog today, said that it was actually those supply chain concerns that drove the 5C design, more than any desire to produce something good enough for the low end of the market.
As Lessin wrote, "Fast-forward to today. Sure, technology has improved. That means the feature gap between today’s cheaper phone and the high-end iPhone is smaller than it would have been a few years ago." Such is the speed of technological change, but it also meant Apple could expand the market without sacrificing its basic design principles.
As I went to publish this story, I took a quick peek at the Apple stock price. It's down around 2%. So far, at least, Wall Street doesn't like Apple's lack of interest in competing with low-end Android phones overseas.
Over the long haul, Apple looked at the market and decided it couldn't or wouldn't compete at the down end of the market. It would rather sacrifice market share and maintain its reputation as a creator of premium products. That may hurt it on Wall Street and in the low-end smartphone market, but it's important once Apple tries to innovate its way into new product areas once again.
Google's plan to bring Chrome packaged apps to Android and iOS is part of its strategy to make the web the primary platform for users. Converting Apple device owners will be a challenge.
Most companies understand that they need a social media presence, but many are flying by the seat of their pants instead of crafting a social media plan that aligns closely with business goals.