Apple fails to excite -- allows Google to keep taking bites
Today, Apple announced two new iPhones, the 5S and 5C. Sadly, through various leaks and rumors, the wind was taken out of the fruit logo company's sails; the element of surprise was lost. Surprise or not, either way, both new smartphones look really well made, attractive and full-featured. There is only one problem -- no one cares.
Well, "no one cares" is an exaggeration. I'm sure existing iPhone users care and these phones will sell well. Unfortunately, it won't be enough to lure the people Apple really needs to target -- first-time smartphone buyers and Android users. In other words, Google will continue to erode Apple's market-share, one chomp at a time.
As the news from the event trickled in today, I found myself getting a bit excited. To me, a 64-bit processor in a smartphone is something cool. However, I am a nerd and the majority of first-time smartphone users are not (if they were, they would already have one). In other words, the general public doesn't care about specs, and OpenGL|ES 3.0 will not sell product.
What does sell product? Price, features and apps. While Apple is the market-leader in quality apps, it simply cannot compete with free or low-cost Android handsets. Heck, even Windows Phone 8 is better positioned for the inexpensive-focused market. The iPhone 5C was supposed to be that saving-grace but unfortunately the cost savings are negligible at $99. While some people may say $99 is a lot of money, if someone cannot afford that difference in price, they cannot afford the latest smartphone.
From a feature perspective, the iPhone 5S does introduce a new fingerprint reader. While this is a genius move for the business market, it remains to be seen how consumers will take to it. It is an intriguing feature for sure, but it will not sell a phone. As of today, Verizon is offering the wonderful Nokia Lumia 928 for free with a 2-year contract. A first-time smartphone buyer is unlikely to be willing to shell out $199 more for a fingerprint reader.
In fact consumers who are more interested in color swatches than biometric security may opt for the 5C instead of the 5S for reasons unrelated to price.
Overall, both new iPhones and iOS 7 are beautiful and amazing. Any consumer would be lucky to own one of the new devices. However, for many people, they are not worth their premium pricing when compared to Android or Windows Phone 8. Apple had an opportunity to knock it out of the park today. Unfortunately, it failed to excite when it really needed to. Had the company only priced the 5C more competitively, it may have had a chance of striking back at Android.