Apple’s latest handset, the iPhone SE, will be unleashed this week upon a weary consumer.
Why weary? Gartner figures show that global smartphone sales in Q4 2015 saw their slowest growth since 2008. Industry behemoth Apple hasn’t been immune with sales of its iPhone range starting to flat-line, currently growing at the slowest rate since the first iPhone.
This ‘handset fatigue’ is symptomatic of a market speeding towards saturation point, amid the general distraction of emerging tech including wearables, Internet of Things and virtual reality.
If Apple is going to buck the trend, adding the SE to its armoury gives it a better chance than many of its older siblings, and here’s why...
1. The price is right
The iPhone SE starts at £359, almost £200 cheaper than the iPhone 6s, Apple’s current flagship. Its previous attempt at an iPhone to court the wider market, the 5c, raised eyebrows when it launched back in 2013 because it was only £80 cheaper than the then-flagship 5s.
This time around Apple has learnt from its mistakes, and has priced the SE cleverly at the sweet spot for instant sales. On pay-monthly, we know that sweet spot is £6-£8 a month lower than the iPhone 6s.
2. It doesn’t compromise (much)
Looks wise, the iPhone SE isn’t far removed from the iconic design of the iPhone 5s. But we all know that in the long run, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Fortunately, the SE has many of the same innards of the 6s, Apple’s most successful iPhone yet.
Both offer fingerprint ID, both support Apple Pay, and both carry identical processors and 12-megapixel cameras. Compromises come in the form of a lower quality front facing camera on the SE, a screen lacking pressure sensitivity, and only two storage options, 16GB or 64GB.
3. It’s a battle cry to the Chinese
The iPhone SE can be read as Apple’s attempt to ape the success of Chinese challenger brands that have swept into the mobile market and enthralled Generation Z.
This new breed of manufacturer – Huawei, Xiaomi and OnePlus – is a hit with younger customers with smaller budgets and an appetite for high-spec, low-value devices. By launching the iPhone SE, Apple is leaning into a market that it has historically priced out.
But a word of warning to Apple...
Following the lead of fledgling brands with a value-for-money mobile is only half the story.
To survive ‘handset fatigue’, brands need to consider creating ecosystems that don’t lock users in.
Anyone with an Apple gadget is more than familiar with the velvet handcuffs of their operating system - and the manufacturer may find its hermetically-sealed nature will spell trouble for its long term relationship with a younger generation that prioritises access and freedom.