Is Apple about to break the Babe Ruth rule of doing one thing, and doing it well? That is very likely to be the case with Apple delivering a larger screen iPhone, but all eyes are on WWDC and whether or not Apple will also be showing off a summer iPhone 5S update to the market.
Steve Jobs was against a multiple device mobile lineup, and felt his simplified ideal should be the only way Apple approached the market. But Jobs isn't in charge anymore, and it appears Tim Cook is setting the sails towards filling out the iPhone lineup with multiple screen sizes.
I also recall that Jobs was against an iPod with video, roughly six months before Apple sold an iPod video. The game of misdirection has been played before, with Cook most recently suggesting no new hardware until the fall. Don't be surprised if Apple delivers an all new MacBook Air, an updated MacBook Pro and iPhone 5S at WWDC.
An iPhone 5S would seem a logical move, considering how well received the iPhone 4S was over the iPhone 4. The success of the 4S revealed that expiring carrier contracts and upgrade eligibility paths can prove more a catalyst for strong sales, even if the upgrade is minimal.
Samsung has proven out its theory that there is indeed a niche for larger screen smartphones, but does that mean it is a market Apple should approach? There are three types of non-Apple smartphone users:
- The über geek: This user is willing to use any type of device that shows differentiation from Apple. If a 6.7-inch fablet fits the bill, so be it, so long as it quickly shows everyone they are not using an Apple device. Some are loyal legacy Windows users, while others are hobbyists or tinkerers that have that built-in desire to manufacturer their PC's, or forever be tweaking there devices instead of just using them, declaring to everyone "look what I did!"
- The Elderly: The western world continues to age, and so does the eyesight and coordination. More and more elderly are finding a big screen with big buttons on their phone is right fit for their needs.
- The Poor: Sadly, there are more and more smartphone users on discount carriers with sub-par service, bandwidth or less than reliable data capabilities, but it's all they can afford. Many large screen mobile devices are being dubbed smartphones for this market because they are loaded with Android. None-the-less, some of these users represent a large-screen user segment.
None of segments appear ripe for Apple to pick from. The geek won't ever choose Apple, while the elderly tend to put a premium on cheap, and the poor only feed the mass market of smartphone sales that are delivering zero margin for the manufacturer.
The most compelling reasons for Apple to produce a large screen iPhone is to offer choice to its user base, while it can also deliver a six month update cycle. Staggering the releases of big and small iPhones would relieve the pressure of launching one model on an annual cycle with ever larger fulfillment requirements the day it ships. Apple releasing a larger screen iPhone every fall/early winter, while releasing a slim iPhone every spring/early summer delivers the market a constant influx of new, along with choice, something that would continue to keep more and more iPhone adopters in the fold for the long term, while nibbling away at the big phone market leaders.
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