When The Going Gets Tough Apple’s iPhone Goes Pro
The amazing dual-camera inside Apple’s iPhone 7 Plus has been a huge success. Customers like the fantastic pictures they take, and Apple’s got to love the profit margin. I think we’re going to see the difference between Pro and standard versions of the smartphone become more acute in the years to come.
This makes sense. You see, iPhones are now in the same kind of mental space as Macs once were. Apple did a clever thing when it introduced Pro notebooks and desktops within its highly successful Mac quadrant offering. The smartphone market is now sufficiently mature that it can really drive home the Pro/Plus point with unique features (like the camera) and high-tech enhancements you just won’t find elsewhere.
The plan works. A Wall Street Journal report this morning claims the iPhone 7 Plus accounted for 40 percent of total iPhone sales in the last quarter. That’s twice as many (by ratio) as those who opted for the iPhone 6 Plus. That product was all about display size, but Apple’s now realized it can define an even higher-end premium iPhone experience with its Plus/Pro brand. This also means the premium smartphone market is not defined by the iPhone any more, but the iPhone Plus – which is now the single best smartphone on the planet, with no significant competition.
Better, Better, and Best
Apple is quietly redefining smartphones.
As it migrates iPhones into the very highest end of the market, this will also create the space it needs to introduce a third category of iPhone.
I imagine we will see a Pixel killer (overrated and overpriced as that device is) at the low end of Apple’s high end smartphone market, a uniquely interesting ‘normal’ iPhone at the mid range of the high end of the market, with little or no competition, and, at the high end of the high end market, a unique (and probably expensive) device that sets the bar for the future of the entire category.
This focus on making the best product will be critical to how Apple survives the coming tough years. These years will be tough. Consumer electronics companies and everybody else will certainly feel the economic and social consequences of the historically illiterate politics of our time.