I’ve seen a LOT of chatter just recently about the importance of Apple building a cheap(er) iPhone for developing countries. Honestly, it makes a lot of sense but the key assessment, I would think, is if they can deliver the iPhone 4 or 4S to those markets at a competitive price and be at parity with other phones on the market. So to me, that’s a straightforward strategy choice.
But there is a larger issue. Should Apple create a cheaper iPhone for the US market? I know the initial reaction might be to think of that as tarnishing the brand, that Apple only builds premium products. But perhaps not, and my thinking is influenced by the fact that I picked up that damn iPad mini this weekend and fell in love.
I agree with those who have stated the iPad mini is the tablet Apple should have built from the start. There is probably a lot of reasons why they couldn’t, but I understand the sentiment. It is the next tablet I will own, when my original iPad wears out or is so far behind it’s not usable. The reason I own both an iPad and an iPhone is due to portability. It truly is not convenient or possible to carry my original iPad everywhere. And having my iPad as a in-car device (navigation while driving, for example) is really nice, but superfluous, because it would require two data plans. The phone works just fine in those situations. So I truly need and use both.
The iPad mini would change that. It’s small and light enough I can take it anywhere, no matter how crowded or constrained. I can get 4G LTE speed on it, so I could use it in any situation where I would use my iPhone - except when making a call (Yeah, I think putting those 5-inch or 7-inch devices up to your ear looks pretty silly). So I don’t need a full iPhone if I have the iPad mini.
But here’s the rub - I don’t want a cheap, ugly feature phone. What I would love is a basic, simple but beautiful phone from Apple with the same build quality of the current models. But it is just for talking and maybe texting every once in a while when it was truly impossible to use the iPad mini. This phone would be in the range of $49 - $99, and my carrier plan would have one “phone” component and one “data” component.
That would be ideal for me. Of course, this assumes that I’d continue to have a laptop. One of the things I’ve discovered is that in my line of work, there are times when a laptop is a necessity, like when using spreadsheets or undertaking data analysis. The tablets just don’t work well in that arena yet, until the form factor becomes more visual and manipulating data becomes more “touchable.” But that’s a topic for another blog.