The release of any new Apple product commands the attention of the media, users, and market competitors, and prompts brand enthusiast camp-outs nationwide. Yet Apple’s latest reinvention, now about two weeks old, turned more heads than usual. For the first time in Apple history, the company released not only a traditional iPhone 5s and iOs7 software upgrade, but also announced the iPhone 5c model.
The iPhone 5c has a price point of $99, as opposed to the iPhone 5s’s $199. With a slower processing speed, lower storage capacity, and manufactured primarily of plastic instead of aluminum and glass, the phone is more basic and, well, cheap. The purpose of this new two-model marketing technique is to allow Apple to tap into emerging markets, primarily those with a lower budget. The iPhone 5c commercial “For the Colorful” has a majority cast of people speaking in foreign languages, reflecting Apple’s new focus overseas. In countries such as China and India, where smartphones are becoming more common than cellphones, customers are currently choosing to sign with Apple competitors such as Nokia and Microsoft because they are significantly less expensive.
With a lower price, Apple can become more competitive in response to the new global demand for smartphones. However it’s not only international customers that Apple wants to appeal to. They're also waiting to expand domestically. The iPhone 5c is aimed to accommodate younger, teenage consumers who may be limited by a lower budget and a small or non-existent income. The device is available in white, pink, yellow, blue, and green, a clear not to teenage, and possibly even pre-teen, stylistic preferences. Not only does this get young audiences hooked on Apple products early, but it also turns the iPhone into a must-have accessory.
So has the public reception lined up with Apple’s intentions? Those in favor of the move recognize that even a company as powerful as Apple must listen to what their customers both want and can afford. Realistically, this is what allows any company to stay competitive and make a profit. Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO, publicly stated, “This is our best iPhone yet ... more than nine million new iPhones sold, a new record for first weekend sales.”
However majority of those sales were for the iPhone 5s, not the iPhone 5c. Critics believe that by coming out with a cheaper model Apple may destroy what they are all about: innovative, top of the line, products that set the bar and the new gold standard. Nokia even poked fun at the iPhone 5c model, tweeting “Thanks #Apple ;), imitation is the highest form of flattery.”
You don’t have to be a market economist to know the power of Apple’s brand image and customer loyalty, and how damaging it would be to lose. How else would anyone possibly take rumors of a new “iWatch” seriously? There are some customers who will defend their laptop in the “Mac vs. PC” debate to the death, or swear they will never buy a non-Apple product again.
Although the iPhone 5c will undoubtedly help Apple in overseas markets, it may also be seen as a compromise of ingenuity and the dilution of principle here at home. The future of the company is something that all cellphone users, and members of American pop culture, should keep their eye on.