What happens to both the Cadillac brand and your own personal prestige as a Cadillac owner if the company decided to build a cheap sub-compact version? Most of us would agree that the brand would be diminished, and current owners wouldn’t look at their Cadillacs quite the same way any more.
My fear is that is exactly what is about to happen with Apple’s so-called ‘cheap’ iPhone, or the much rumored iPhone 5C.
‘C’ might stand for color, as it’s widely reported the 5C will come in a variety of colored plastic cases, but it’s beginning to look more like ‘C’ stands for cheap. Or, rather, cheaper.
First, there are distinct differences between the term cheap and less expensive. Apple’s iPhone 5 build quality is about as good as it can get. So, to get the price tag down to compete against the growing tide of plastic Android-based smartphones Apple must do something to lower the price.
I’m sorry, but that still means cheap. Or, cheaper.
Second, while all of us would like a lower priced iPhone, a less expensive iPhone 5, the math just doesn’t support the famed Apple quality we know and love and are willing to shell out a few extra bucks to obtain.
With smartphones, certain components drive up the cost the most. Case, battery, CPU, screen, internal circuitry, camera. To lower the cost requires that something be reduced in size or quality or both. Tradeoffs abound. A smaller screen means a smaller battery and lower battery life. A faster CPU means lower battery life. A cheaper camera means poorer photo quality. And so on.
Apple knows more about what it can and cannot do than technology pundits to expand the iPhone line as it did with the iPod a few years. Apple spread the iPod line in such a way as to create a barrier to entry for competitors, while extracting a modest premium for each iPod model.
The company needs to do the same thing with the iPhone line, and not leave such a large price umbrella which shields the low end smartphone makers. Every technology pundit and Apple follower this side of Tuesday seems to think Apple needs a cheaper or less expensive iPhone to survive.
What I’d rather see is a broader iPhone line, multiple models that span the spectrum of capability, screen sizes, build quality, and functionality.
Why? I’m a snob. I want the best iPhone I can get, not a cheaper version of the real thing.