Blindfold Jony: Apple’s low-cost iPhone needs to look hideous

“Pictures of candy-colored entry-level iPhones with rounded corners have started circulating,” Tero Kuittinen writes for BGR. “Many have branded them hideous, crude atrocities. They need to be.”

“Apple is facing a unique dilemma: Because of the stellar success of the iOS app universe, the entry-level iPhone has to have nearly the same specs as the flagship iPhone,” Kuittinen writes. “The display has to be large. The processing power has to be substantial. Apple cannot afford to fragment the iPhone device base… Still, the budget iPhones have to be something that affluent and aspirational consumers despise.”

Kuittinen writes, “Apple cannot have the bulk of its customers trade down to the budget phone from more expensive devices. It must make the entry-level model look so vulgar and cheap that most iPhone users will stick to the main line models, even if they have to pay a $200 to $400 premium. The budget phones have to look tackier than the new iPhone 5S, but that is not enough — they must also be less desirable than the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S… yet still appear more desirable than low-end Android phones. This is a very, very tricky maneuver to pull off…”

Read more in the full article here.

43 Comments

  1. I believe Jonny Ives has already achieved a ‘twofer’, a two for one, in that iOS 7 looks uglier than sin and the impending cheap iPhone will look uglier still.

    Well done, the cheapness at Apple is shining through, like a star spangled banner.

      1. I disagree. I am a designer for a living, and while ‘ugly’ may be too harsh a word, I do think the garish color palette of iOS7 is simply awful. Many other aspects of the UI are quite nice, but it is far from a home run in my eyes.

        The real problem with your statement though is that it hinges on the belief that design is somehow a universal set of standards what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’. Sure, there are some rules at the foundation of design, but the entire practice is based on subjectivity. People have individual tastes and preferences, and these tend to run even stronger amongst designers. For instance, I prefer clean, almost monochromatic color pallets that rely more on shades than hues, and I do like a nice diffuse bit of shadow, as it gives elements a sense of presence. It doesn’t mean that I’m right and Ive is wrong, or that my designs are ‘pretty’ while his are ‘ugly’, it just means we have differing views in this particular regard. Conversely, I think Jonny’s hardware designs are spot on, and always have been.

        Now, this doesn’t make Twofer’s comment any less inane, nor does it make him any less of a troll; but let’s not go insulting anyone who isn’t thrilled with the aesthetic of iOS7.

        1. I don’t agree with your assertion that Rorschach is pushing a universal design aesthetic. He said what he meant to say, that someone lacking a design aesthetic, whatever it might be, would not see merit in the new stuff. I’d say that was fair defense against a cheap shot at one of the world’s leading designers, and I’d hesitate to hold anyone’s feet to the fire for not bothering to explain the finer points of design to a troll with an agenda. Context!

          1. No, he specifically said that iOS 7 would ONLY be unattractive to those without a design aesthetic. The inference here then is that if I don’t care for the design, I must be lacking said aesthetic. Given my professional success as a designer, and my dislike of several aspects of iOS 7’s design, I took exception to it.

            What he said and what he meant were pretty clear. Context is not the issue.

            Reading comprehension!

            1. Sorry. I can understand why you were offended by his statement. I just felt that you were too hard on him for tossing off too sweeping a statement that happened to technically include you. I should have let it go.

      2. As said, all design influences come from similar disciplinary ideals as good guidelines – art & design are subjective. While you can not please all the people all the time, iOS7 offers only limited eye candy (which I am happy for) yet most of the features are catch up to Android (which saddens me). So whats left? A Blackberry Windows Android inspired UI and altered icons gone flat which have absolutely no value changing to improve user ability.

        cons, which some are detailed, some with grads, some literal, others abstract… not consistent – not well thought out – not responsible – and not in tune with the new Apple ads that strive for perfection – far from it. Add that to all the lawsuits still hovering over Apple, changing iOS is being done at the wrong time and at the wrong effort. It needs to be radical and beyond the competition; not mere implementations with the competitions work done. Its a reversal situation now.

        And sorry, yes I have a deep design background – the entirely new iOS7 doesn’t feel better, nor look refreshing, nor less complicated… it appears dumbed down comical irresponsible. Only that more, Siri integration, seems to simplify and improve user experiences. An assistant that can do everything could lead to a less expensive iPhone with a smaller screen. These phones look fruity. The colours look way off to the iTouch colours.

        1. You represent an interest in Apple more on the stock side, am i wrong. If so no problem. The point though, is this;
          Apple has remained strong not because of its stocks but its design in both Software and Hardware. And iOS7 makes a more that resembles the competition more than its initial radicle cellphone interface. This round Apple add what value or their own, “the Apple way”?

        1. Well, you’re partly right. Conservatives don’t necessarily fear change, but they will adamantly oppose any suggestion of it from the other side of the aisle, even when it is clearly a positive and necessary change.

          1. No, because conservatives have life experience and learn from it, we gravitate toward things that work and stay with them.
            Good change is good change, bad change is bad change.

            I didnt mind the ‘garish” color pallet for a few days, but each day as I see it, it is starting to irritate me. Find a way to give us our choice on that.

          2. Tflint is sort of right. Conservatives said ObamaCare was stupid, would cost more, would cause layoffs, would drive away doctors, and would make healthcare less effective. Yesterday Obama decided to delay the employer mandate till 2015 so voters would not feel all these bad things before the next election. Now, Obama said everyone would love ObamaCare but now he delays it after having granted waivers to most businesses that backed his campaign. Conservatives did not want stupid change. Obama, stupid liberal, did. He also installed the President Morsi of Egypt, because Obama likes Islamic radicals who hate women and gays. Conservatives said the Muslim Brotherhood was evil and would be worse than the past dictator. Today, millions of Egyptians are in the street with anti-Obama signs demanding Morsi resign. Conservatives right, liberals wrong. Liberals insist George Zimmerman is guilty, despite all the facts. Conservatives looked at the evidence and concluded Zimmerman was defending himself. All the prosecution witnesses support this position. Liberals claimed global warming was a fact and deserved no debate. Conservatives looked at the evidence and noticed much of it was manufactured by scientists who were paid by the government, and these people discarded any evidence that did not support their view. Now it is known that global temperatures have not risen for at least 16 years despite vast amounts of added carbon in the atmosphere. Conservatives right; liberals wrong. Liberals convicted the Duke lacrosse team before facts were out. They were completely wrong, including the entire Duke faculty.

      1. Well spotted, because I cant believe how naff the nano looks these days compared to my fatboy one. I was quite shocked when I looked at it close up with that nasty plastic metal looking finish combined with a white face. Really never expected to see something by Apple that cheap looking, so it seems they are willing to go down that route when required to get people like me who wouldn’t buy such a thing to move up the range, though the danger is that you lose a customer altogether if you don’t get it right if you force them into that choice.

      1. I agree with you. I have no problem with Apple EVENTUALLY releasing a “feature phone” version of the iPhone. But that cannot be their first lower-end release. They need to do an “iPod Mini”/”iPod Nano” before they release an “iPod Shuffle,” if you catch my drift: they need to secure the middle of the market before they attack the bottom.

        A feature phone will not open Apple up to new people, and it will send entirely the wrong message. If Apple can make this new, lower-cost iPhone a success–offering the same great iPhone experience in a more affordable package–then they should consider mopping up with a feature phone. But that shouldn’t happen anytime soon.

      2. Why? Most buyers of low end smartphones are using them as feature phones because they have no desire to run apps. Admittedly that’s because they’re shitty android phones, but a set of stock apple apps would be great for a lot of people, or perhaps third party apps would have to be designed for a smaller screen and less powerful device.

        Something that works exactly the same as an existing iPhone only sells if it’s cheaper and therefore less profitable. It’s also a more direct competitor for the iPhone.

  2. The market for the alleged ‘low-cost’ iPhone is _not_ the current established audience, but an untapped revenue of lower-income, first-time buyers. No-one presently using a 5 is going to relinquish utility or range, but they might well buy some for their children. At any rate, in no sense do I think Apple (aka Jonny) needs to kitsch things up.

  3. Except this is not what is happening. Apple is not intentionally making anything ugly, period. If they make a range of colors the selections will make sense – I mean this is not a new thing for them! This has been successfully done many times with several iPods and other products, they make a range of colors that will span the range of likes and dislikes so that just about everyone will be able to pick a color that works for them. They always have some bright colors mixed with some neutral colors to pick from. Also, if this is the “lower end” iPhone, the higher end will be distinguished in some way to make you want to step up to it – they are also experts at that maneuver! To imply that they would use color to push high dollar folks away is just silly.

  4. This guy and a lot of the people here are SO wrong. You CAN make a “cheap iPhone” that is NOT an iPhone, and make it very popular with the people who did not previously consider getting an iPhone due to high total cost of ownership.

    THAT is the target market. If this low-cost iPhone has the same size screen, and runs iOS apps, there are TWO problems. First, it won’t be “low-cost.” And second, no matter how “ugly” it is, it will cannibalize sales from potential “real” iPhone customers.

    Plus, it’s against Apple “DNA” to do something that people will consider “cheap” in look and feel. If that’s the product differentiator, Apple is NOT going to do it.

    It can have “apps” without it being an iOS device. They can be built-in. This Apple phone is going after customers who currently buy feature phones and low-end Android devices (and never add new apps). Apple can include the apps most people would want in a phone, including some games. So it would still be a “smart” phone, without it being a “smartphone.”

    This approach has a major advantage in design (and cost). Since the Apple engineers know exactly what users will do with the phone, because the apps are known and not expandable, it can be designed to accommodate the minimum requirements, not the maximum. That means the hardware specs can be fine-tuned for precisely what the phone needs to run, not over-designed. And THAT can make the phone “low-cost” without being “cheap.”

    Design this phone around the 2.5-inch screen of the current iPod nano. It already looks like a miniaturized iPhone, and now even has built-in Bluetooth. An expanded version of the current iPod nano OS would be appropriate. It’s like the current iPod nano is a test-run for a phone. Adding the phone parts (and a larger battery) will make is slightly larger (longer), but it will still be tiny and ultra-slim.

    No one who wants a “real” iPhone will consider it as an option, just as no one who wants an iPod touch buys an iPod nano instead. But just as the iPod nano is a highly desirable product, this new Apple phone will be a highly desirable choice for its target market, customer who currently would not buy an iPhone. However, the NEXT phone they buy may be a “real” iPhone.

  5. A couple things. If the colored pics are real, how do we know its an iPhone. Couldn’t it be a new version of the iPod Touch?
    Of they really make a cheaper phone, I’d think they would maybe use a standard screen, only one camera, older chip.
    The think I don’t get, you already can buy an iPhone 4 with 8 gigs of memory. I would think that would be the budget iPhone.

    Also, why do people bring up politics in their comments?

    1. They bring up politics because politics is important to them, and they mine their knowledge of it to create metaphors for competition, which is the real subject of these forums. When I spent time in more technical forums, the spleen was just as shocking, and the personal attacks just as revolting, but the arguments were always based on the realities of code, protocol, and network—specifications, applications, version histories, documentation, language design philosophy. No time for abstract political analogies.

  6. First of all the photos may not be accurate, be even if they are no problem.
    A substantially less expensive iphone opens up huge new possibilities both in the US and around the world including third world countries.
    Instead of ipod touches more family members can be gifted iphones more affordably. Those who now update every couple of years may be more likely to buy more often.
    When Apple starts to cannibalize a product the bottom line goes up!
    The phones look fine to me. Apple will not intentionally put out an ugly product.
    It may replace the iphone 5 and it’s sucessors. That’s fine with me even though my iphone 5 is a great phone that is always with me!
    Time and products march on. It’s called progress. All the hand wringing about this is silly to me.
    I also am anxious to have iOS 7. I expect it to be great on my iphone 5 and sucessors.
    I see it all as a positive so for those negs who expect the sky to fall stay inside to be safe!

    I also expect to see the stock get a boost from the new fall products along with bigger than ever sales of iOS devices!

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.