September 12, 2013

Settings Expectations

The new iPhones show Apple at its best; check your expectations at the door.

I didn’t want to write anything about the new iPhones until I watched the Keynote myself. Prior to doing so, I was inundated with articles and other social network coverage on the topic, some of which was simply asinine and others of which were level-headed, objective, and similar to my personal feelings on the subject. Some people liked to look at Apple’s announcements from Tuesday and say that Apple lacked vision in the smartphone market, which is crowded with free phones that lure customers due to their price. However, I think that Apple was simply drawing their line in the sand; Ben Thompson said it most succinctly:

This was Apple, standing up and saying to all the pundits, to all the analysts, to everyone demanding a low price iPhone:

NO

No, we will NOT compete on price, we will offer something our competitors can’t match.

No, we are NOT selling a phone, we are selling an experience.1

No, we will NOT be cheap, but we will be cool.

No, you in the tech press and on Wall Street do NOT understand Apple, but we believe that normal people love us, love our products, and will continue to buy, start to buy, or aspire to buy.

Oh, and Samsung? Damn straight people line up for us. 20 million for a concert. It’s like a product launch.”

Neither Apple as a whole nor iPhone specifically has ever been a brand of affordability. Apple does not want to get into the business of cheap” hardware.2 Also, Apple has never insinuated that they aimed in that direction; the continued existence of the iPhone 4S in the lineup is yet another clue that the company’s aim is not cheapness. I am adamant that time and time again, Apple has set the expectation for their customer group to be that of the cost of premium design. Setting expectations is an important part of any business and I think Apple has been great about being consistent in their message to insure that proper expectations are set. Which brings me to my complaint for the pundits: putting down Apple’s new hardware, some without even touching it, due to your abnormally high expectations is not only subjective in nature but outlandish. I understand having to get copy to your editor, but think before you type.

Now, I don’t plan to make this post about the features because so many other posts have covered them. However, the iPhone 5s is a wonder in terms of feature set and is tempting, even though I currently have an iPhone 5. In addition, the iPhone 5c is undoubtedly going to be a reboot of the revolution, so to speak, in the sense that the iPod mini and its colors brought the iPod to the true mainstream. Along with the iOS 7 update, which is coming next week, Apple has made a statement yet again about being willing to leave the past behind and make people uncomfortable. Just like this post will quickly be forgotten, the talk of Apple having a rare miss” will fade into the background as the spotlight refocuses on happy customers and record-breaking profits.

I have been pleasantly surprised by Apple’s moves in iOS 7 and their new iPhone hardware; this is due to the fact that I can see where they could possibly go in the future and I still see their superior design and software/hardware integration as the best on the market from an overall experience point of view. They have set the expectation that they are a premium brand for those who are willing to spend more for a superior product. Even as the company has moved away from serving just the tinkerers and enthusiasts to serving the greater consumer population, they have not changed their message and they continue to lead the industry, in both technology and ambition. As for their market price and their future, I don’t see these announcements as anything but full-steam-ahead innovation and even if Wall Street doesn’t see it, come next week, the millions of new iPhone customers will.


  1. In a stroke of genius, Apple is now offering their iWork and iLife softwares for free to all new iOS customers, just as they are on the Mac. Oddly, Garageband is not included in the list of freebies, but I have a feeling that is due to its profitability. I have a feeling that a lot of people have paid full price for Garageband since it is a remarkable product, so Apple’s question is why leave money on the table? I don’t think as many people desired iPhoto or iMovie, as those who desired Garageband.  ↩

  2. Hell, they even make their plastic phones like (almost) no one else can.  ↩

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