The iPhone’s turning point

“Later this year, Apple will unveil a 6.5-inch screen that runs iOS. Five years ago, such a product would have been introduced as the newest member of the iPad family. However, Apple finds itself on the verge of releasing its largest iPhone to date,” Neil Cybart writes for Above Avalon. “In fact, the device will likely be one of the largest smartphones in the market. Upon closer examination, such a dramatic change in product strategy was ultimately driven by Apple’s realization that iPad mini was the wrong bet. It marked a turning point for iPhone.”

Apple “placed a big bet on iPad mini as a way to prevent Android from gaining share in the tablet space. However, the competition wasn’t found with smaller Android tablets,” Cybart writes. “Instead, it was found with 5-inch and 6-inch smartphones running Android. Having just launched the 4-inch iPhone 5, [Apple SVP Phil] Schiller knew that Apple wouldn’t have an adequate answer to these larger smartphones for at least another year and a half. Apple was caught flat-footed due to betting on iPad mini.”

“At some point in 2013, Apple likely made the decision that iPhones had to become larger in a big way,” Cybart writes. “Apple had to accept the fact that the iPad mini may not have too bright of a future despite just being launched and seeing remarkable strong sales out of the gate. There wasn’t going to be a compelling use case for a 7.9-inch iPad in a world with larger smartphones.”

“We now see Apple becoming extremely aggressive with larger iPhones,” Cybart writes. “A 6.5-inch screen iPhone will launch less than a year after a 5.8-inch screen. A 6.5-inch iPhone would have been unfathomable during the early iPad years. Such a device would have decimated Apple’s iPad strategy. Today, Apple is comfortable ceding a much larger portion of the market to iPhone at the expense of iPad. This has led to a much stronger iPhone franchise.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

If you don’t cannibalize yourself, someone else will. — Steve Jobs

Apple was very late… There’s no telling how many millions of high-value customers they lost to Android makers like Samsung because of it — customers who will be much more difficult to acquire now than if Apple had properly-sized iPhones ready for buyers when they wanted them. Apple’s getting them to switch in a relative trickle over a period of many years, and many years to come, when they could have had virtually all of them with a bit more foresight.MacDailyNews, February 2, 2017

And now for the “We Told Ya So” portion of our presentation:

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.MacDailyNews, January 3, 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.MacDailyNews, January 23, 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.MacDailyNews, January 28, 2014

SEE ALSO:
Why Apple is going bigger on bigger iPhone displays – March 1, 2018
Apple’s 6.5-inch ‘iPhone X Plus’ display, with notch, shown in leaked photo – February 26, 2018
3 exclusive features Apple could deliver with a 6.5-inch ‘iPhone X Plus’ – February 20, 2018
2 ways Apple can improve upon the beautiful iPhone X – February 15, 2018
Apple unveils 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus – September 9, 2014

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

8 Comments

  1. Firstly, the iPad Mini wasn’t the ‘wrong bet’. It fulfilled a need at the time and sold in very decent quantities. A larger iPhone will come at just the right moment for the market. Some may say it’s late, but at least Apple will make it right.

  2. I have often wondered if those who desire a large phone aren’t heavily-populated by those who don’t want an iPad (or can’t afford one) – those that see the large iPhone (the “Clown-Phone”) as a compromise-device.
    Steve Jobs intimated several times that the iPhone and iPad (and the Mac) served different functions, not different audiences. But perhaps with the influx of less-affluent iPhone buyers (Android switchers?) the “Clown-Phone” represents a single device that serves both functions (though neither as well) without the expense or “inconvenience” of owning/carrying both?

  3. Apple has already abandoned the iPad, iPad mini, mac mini, and mac pro. This should not surprise anybody, as Apple is now an iPhone company first and foremost. Pretty pathetic IMO the lack of updates to all this hardware.

  4. I was one of those who thought the iPad mini was a great idea. A larger iPhone was clearly the answer all along. After moving up to an iPhone Plus, I’ve finally seen the light. The iPad mini is already obsolete; the iPhone X Plus will just be the final nail in the coffin.

    1. Your opinion that the iPad mini is “obsolete” may sound valid to you personally, but have you even considered many other buyers?

      • Children: the iPad mini is still the iPad that parents prefer to buy for their kids (especially young kids) prefer because its smaller size means it’s easier for young hands to hold. And it’s not about cost, as the fifth-gen iPad is $329 and the fourth-gen iPad mini is $399.

      • Starter device: when parents buy their kid an iPad mini, they are also entering the iOS ecosystem of app and media purchases. They want to take this with them to their next device(s).

      • Health care staff: the fact that an iPad mini fits into the pockets of a standard white lab coat makes it THE choice for doctors and other medical personnel. Apps such as AirStrip and others are less useful on a phone-sized screen.

      • Drone pilots: the iPad mini is regarded as the ultimate sweet spot between screen size and portability for remote piloting.

      There are more. Do you get the picture already?

  5. I”ve never understood the comparison of large phones to an iPad mini….the iPad mini is hugely cheaper than a phone!…no monthly cell plan is a huge difference in cost! I don’t have kids, but if you have a young kid whom it makes sense to have a smaller cheaper tablet vs full fledged iPad…than what’s wrong with having iPad mini in the family…you’re not going to get them a phone. It’s a niche of the market but not why cover all the price/demand niches if each product has positive margin….just like they did with all the different iPod models in the past.

  6. Amazing how quickly one can forget how every ‘expert’ and their dog was laying into Apple for not producing a mini iPad when others were. For all we know it might have been the move that thwarted competitors fighting their way into the iPad market. One can’t prove a negative. Fact though Smaller tablets is a different story than that regarding Apple’s efforts in the large screen phone market, or lack of. The market was always going to have to settle on which was to succeed and in the early days it was the tablet that seemed to be doing so and that Apple reacted to, so ideally Apple needed to be nimble and prepared to cover both moves till one came out on top. It’s made exactly the same error in regard to the intelligent speaker, betting on its mobile option for Siri over a less flexible static oriented solution. That seemed more logical back then but you can’t always force the consumer to obey your commands, especially now that Steve isn’t around and more importantly the opposition far more savvy and nimble than in his day.

  7. As I understand it, this iPhone X plus or whatever will be the same size as an iPhone 8 plus, but with the bezels filled in with pixels, which in my mind isn’t really a bigger phone, it won’t show movies bigger etc.

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