Obviously, Apple’s long overdue decision to build iPhones with larger screens is a winner

“The verdict is in and the jury is unanimous: Apple’s long overdue decision to build iPhones with larger screens is a winner,” Mark Rogowsky reports for Forbes. “According to market research firm Kantar, the iPhone gained share everywhere in the world except Japan for the three-month period that ended in November thanks to the launch of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus. In the U.S., iPhone caught up with Android smartphones for the first time in nearly two years and in the U.K., Apple hit its highest ever market share in the Kantar survey. Of course, these numbers are buoyed by the newness of the current iPhones but it’s possible they also represent a sea change. If so, Tim Cook may have captained Apple through one of its murkiest missteps in the iPhone era.”

“Apple has actually been aware for some time that it had a strategic vulnerability due to its decision to offer the iPhone in only smaller screen sizes. By April of last year at a company offsite, it put that vulnerability in the most stark terms possible: ‘Customers want what we don’t have,'” Rogowsky reports. “By then, the iPhone 5s and 5c were already well into production and the company could do little about the fact their screens were already considered small by nearly everyone not using an iPhone — and some who already were. But it could fix the vulnerability in 2014 and even take steps to expand its profitability in the process. By launching the iPhone 6 as a replacement for the 5s and then adding the phablet-sized 6 Plus for $100 more, Apple managed to raise average selling prices for the iPhone line, capture share in growing segments and keep the 4-inch models around for at least two more years for those looking to buy cheaper, smaller models.”

“If Apple understood the move to larger screens in 2012, it likely wouldn’t have waited so long and allowed so many people to get hooked on them with Android. Further, it could have struck a mortal blow to Samsung sooner, as it would likely have blunted the growth of the Galaxy business,” Rogowsky reports. “That’s all water under the bridge. Looking out into the vast ocean of opportunities, Cook has to be thinking about the next phase of growth.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in November:

The display size of iPhone 5 was Cook’s strategic mistake. 4-inches should have been 4.7-inches and the iPhone 5 Plus with a 5.5-inch display. Another year lost with iPhone 5s only compounded the mistake. Yes, that was criminal malpractice by Cook & Co. But, luckily for Apple, smartphones turn over rapidly and Apple, while having more work to do than they would’ve had converting Android settlers to iPhone rather than simply have iPhone users upgrade, can still quickly recover and get back to where they should have been all along and beyond!

An iPhone with a larger screen option will hurt Samsung immeasurably more than myriad, unending traipses through the legal morass.MacDailyNews, May 2, 2014

As we wrote on January 3, 2014:

Some portion of [those who want larger smartphone displays than Apple currently offers] are too stupid, blind, or pathologically anti-Apple to have ever purchased an iPhone, regardless of screen size.

This is not to say that Apple, the world’s most valuable tech company, rolling in more billions of dollars than they know what to do with, shouldn’t have a larger screen iPhone available by now. They should. It’s criminal malpractice on the part of Tim Cook that they don’t. The sales Apple have left and continue to leave on the table should have been keeping Phil Schiller up at night for at least the last year.

Yes, Apple should have a bigger iPhone yesterday, but this is just simple logic: Not all phablet owners would have bought an iPhone even if a bigger iPhone was available.

We understand fragmentation. We understand the issues of producing apps that work on devices with various screen sizes (intimately).

None of it matters because too much of the market wants an iPhone with a bigger screen. Developers will simply work harder for the premium customers found on the premium platform. Period.

This omission – not iMacs and Mac Pros that miss Christmas or anything else – is Tim Cook’s biggest mistake to date. Apple should have a bigger iPhone on the market by now, but since, for some inexplicable reason a company with more cash at their disposal than Intel Corp. is worth doesn’t, the sooner the better.

And, as we wrote on January 23, 2014:

When Apple finally extracts their collective head from their collective ass and ships iPhone models with larger screens, they’ll do more damage to slavish copier Samsung than all of their endless, plodding patent infringement cases combined.

We believe that Apple became infatuated with the fact that only they could produce small, thin smartphones with an efficient OS that could work with the small batteries that these compact iPhones housed. “Nobody else can do such things.” Meanwhile, battery-hogging Android leeches like Samsung slapped larger screens on their phones to hide the fact that they needed significantly larger batteries in order to run for even a few hours (Android phones are notorious for running out of charge).

Far too many otherwise intelligent consumers saw little or nothing of Apple’s considerable engineering superiority (the iPhone 5s is simply the best smartphone anyone has ever produced), these otherwise intelligent consumers only saw iPhone’s smaller screens. They didn’t see Android’s inefficiency or inferior ecosystem, they only saw phones with larger screens.

If we’ve heard from one person who went with an Android phone for a larger screen who in fact really wanted an iPhone – “I’d have gotten an iPhone if only they had a larger screen” – we’ve heard it from a thousand. These are top tier, cream-of-the-crop customers (i.e. Apple’s target demographic), not low information cheapskates. They want to be Apple customers and participate heavily in Apple’s ecosystems, but, for a few years now, Apple has been blowing these sales by failing to deliver the product these high value customers desired. It’s inexplicable; any downsides (fragmentation, inventory management, etc.) are vastly outweighed by the vast sales potential to those who should be Apple customers, but are now carrying a plastic piece of crap from Samsung.

Bottom line: Apple screwed the pooch on this one. Shit or get off the pot, Tim.

Finally, as we wrote on January 28, 2014:

No iPhone with a screen larger than 4-inches – it’s now 2014 – despite a plethora of high-value customers who obviously want to buy one, but have turned to other platforms in order to get a smartphone with a larger screen. Oops. Mismanaged.

One-handed interaction is a concocted load of bullshit attempting to cover for not having a proper lineup of iPhones offering customers varied display sizes at even this late date.

Related articles:
Hit hard by Apple’s iPhone 6/Plus, Samsung expects first annual profit decline since 2011 – January 8, 2015
Woz: The iPhone 6 is three years too late – November 11, 2014
Samsung Electronics’ profit plummets over 60% as people dump wannabe iPhones for the real thing – October 30, 2014
Samsung looks to cheap phones to stem steep profit decline in face of Apple iPhone 6/Plus – October 30, 2014
iPhone 6/Plus preorders outpace Samsung Galaxy Note 4 in South Korea – October 27, 2014
Apple looks to have significantly underestimated the popularity of 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus – October 21, 2014
Samsung poised for ‘ugly’ quarter as demand for Apple’s bigger iPhone 6/Plus skyrockets – October 6, 2014
Survey: 27% of consumers ditching Samsung phones for Apple iPhone 6/Plus – September 23, 2014
Apple’s 64-bit iPhone 6/Plus fueling mass upgrades from Android – September 18, 2014

18 Comments

  1. “Long Overdue”. I know there is criticism from all sides on this, but I have been wondering how long does it take from decision conception to fruition. For Samsung and Chinese knock-off copies, it is about 6 months.

    For Apple, who tries to get it totally right with the material, electronics/technology, sizing to fit, battery life and size, and then all of this working as a unit. Cutting edge with each iteration takes time to procure the material and test it, program the factories and dies and set up order of production and production lines with a guaranteed quality output.

    Not to mention the software that usually lags behind the technology potential.

    Getting it “RIGHT” doesn’t come in 6 months or even 1 year – for concept to production to sales for industry leading technology. If someone wants concept to production in a year time, get a Samsung along with its flaws.

      1. Exactly. Making a smaller phone is challenging. It takes little brainpower to make a bigger phone.
        It is evident that Tim Cook thought he was smarter than the rest of the market by choosing to not pursue a bigger phone until it became painfully obvious that he was wrong.

    1. Others may not agree but you are absolutely right these decisions for Apple are more than a year in the making. I always said that late 2013 was the first period that post Jobs de idiot making will truly show itself. So you may be able to blame Cook for a years delay but anything more has to be laid down to SJ. Indeed quite sensibly post Jobs Cook had to spend time re assessing all the perceived sims of the company before betting the silver on going against the pre existing philosophy so deeply rooted though having been in charge prior to Jobs death should have given some extra time to re balance the timescale a little. All in all though there being a yearly release for the phones doing it even a year earlier may have added to the glitches that rushing seems to have caused in recent times and that could have been a disaster. While that explains things however and though many on here argued against it the decision to produce a bigger phone should have been made much much earlier whoever was responsible at the time. Thankfully that near disaster hasn’t turned out to be an actual one, but let’s hope it had taught them a lesson against complacency.

    2. Except Apple did not get it right. There are many things that are far from perfect in the iPhone 6 design and as an overall package is still behind the competition. IOS was hardly ready for release, nor anywhere near built to compliment the large screen properly.

  2. MDN’s rants above come across sounding like a spoiled brat who wants what they want, and want it NOW!!!

    Apple’s timing is actually perfect, they milked what they had for as long as they could, once sales started hitting that plateau, they moved to where they weren’t. When these sales start to slow, they’ll begin to push harder into the middle (volume) while having the high-end (profits) locked up.

    Apple is not Samsung. They don’t show their entire hand all at once – they play the odds and play them very well. They probably knew this year would be relatively huge as far user upgrade cycle. So, they held back and waited for the pent up demand and then released.

    1. Rubbish. MDN finally got around to admitting that people like myself were correct for well over a year before Apple finally got its act together. Apple fanboys claimed that Samsung’s decision to engineer larger screen devices was not innovative — and now you claim that being slow to the party is somehow smart? That’s delusional. Apple left billions of dollars of potentional profit on the table by releasing what people DID NOT WANT — pastel plastic phones — instead of accelerating development of what people DO want, the iPhone 6.

      Clearly what Apple has to do now is to replace the 5C and 5S with a single new model iPhone that packs the newest chipset into a 4″ screen body. It really has to stop producing 30-pin connector phones and 32 bit phones ASAP, because to “milk what they had” was the wrong decision based on all objective sales figures.

      1. You’re absolutely right. Apple made iPhones that people DID NOT WANT. They obviously hypnotized those several hundred million people into thinking they did want it. But whatever. My OPINION is rubbish and you are just so damned smart… We are in awe of you, Sir.

        /end sarcasm

        Honestly. WE DON’T KNOW if more people wanted larger phones or not, because Apple didn’t release a brand new 4″ iPhone 6 along side the new larger models. There is no way to compare. Yes they sold more, because THERE WAS A PENT UP DEMAND FOR A LARGER IPHONE. That in no way means that people did not want or like the 4″ model. If Apple had released a 4″ iPhone 6… I WOULD HAVE BOUGHT IT. All we now know is that Apple sells a shit load of flagship models every year – regardless of size.

        “Apple left billions of dollars of potentional profit on the table ”

        I hate when people say stuff like this. Apple is leaving billions of dollars by not entering this segment of the market, or even that other market. Why doesn’t Apple just produce every type of consumer product they can instead of letting all that money slip through their hands? Probably the stupid argument ever, because it can be used for EVERYTHING.

        Did they lose some sales because they didn’t make a larger phone? Of course they did. They lose sales on any type of device they currently don’t make. Imagine if Apple entered the TV market years ago, think of all the money they could’ve made already. Or how about an Apple car? Or an Apple gaming machine? Or Apple refrigerator?

        Apple concentrates and focuses. They maximize their supply chain to gain extremely high margins and profit from it. That is why they kept the same design model for two years, instead of the six to eight month cycle their competitors went through.

      2. You are 100% correct. Look back a little at all the debates on bigger screened phones and you will see how hypercritical many people are on this site. There was so much criticism and abuse of larger phones and people that wanted them, that has now been proved completely and utterly wrong. Apple got it wrong as did those who naively supported them. Trying to justify that stance now is sheer desperation.

        1. I agree. For a long time, Apple tortuously justified its screen size choices for both iPhone and iPad as ideal for the average user, and emphasised the drawbacks of larger phones and smaller tablets. This was pure marketing spizz. Any company would do the same! But loyal fans took up the spin as instructions from the gospel, and performed like indoctrinated followers, defending the indefensible.

          It isn’t only Apple partisans that engage in such uncritical skirmishes. But early on, Apple cultivated a holier-than-thou attitude that resonated with “the rest of us”, and that infuriated everyone else. Holy Wars? Of course. Goose the emotions and people will fight.

  3. Apple place priority on the inside first instead of the outside first like Samsung and other androids dead.64-bit and I secure section in the long run is going to give aunt Apple a bigger advantage. They have a fingerprint scanner and NFC that works.;instead of the useless jokes that Android phones have. 64-bit let’s programmers make better games. Photo, video, and music editing is a lot faster with 64-bit. Android fans can gloat, and spread all the BS they want, but now they are two years behind Apple. When Apple Pay goes outside of the US then people will see that Apple strategy was the right way.

  4. As someone who likes to listen in on every quarterly report conference call, Apple has long acknowledged that they recognized that larger screen phones have noticeable demand. So, all this whining and opining is much ado about nothing. Like the top commenter said, it takes time to develop, produce, market and then ship a product to the standards of Apple. It’s clear no one in this group (myself included) has run a world’s largest corporation to even know all of the things that happen to make an iPhone a realization. Yes, we may know more about Apple than the general population, but there is no way we know any of their strategic decisions before they are made.

  5. Just got my first iPhone EVER! Things finally fell into place. The larger screen iPhone was not a determining factor, but it didn’t hurt either! Proud owner of an iPhone 6 Plus!

  6. I still prefer the size of my iPhone 5. I think the smaller iPhone 6 is still too big. It just doesn’t fit into a small pocket as well as the 5 does. I know many prefer bigger, so I guess I’m in the minority. Keeping my 5 for awhile anyway.

    1. Highly agree, I personally hold out hope that there will continue to be an iPhone which can be held and operated with one hand. Putting aside unexpected failure or breakage, already considering the ‘jump’ from 5 to only the 5S so as to get the touch ID thing.

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