[Photo Credit: ARIP]
Samsung’s “Phablet” has become a major hit with consumers. There is something about a 5-inch phone/tablet that you can carry in your pocket. For consumers, the additional screen display increases the space needed to watch movies, read books, surf the Web, and so on. The Amazon Kindle was once an e-book reader that was purchased separately; today, most Kindle users have an application on their smartphone – from which they read their Kindle books along with everything else. The smartphone has taken so many devices with their separate functions (e-book readers, Internet, video-watching devices, etc.) and blended them together into one powerful device. It has been said recently that as technology increases, certain jobs turn obsolete and fade out of the workforce. While this is true, it is the result of progress. Part of technological advancement is learning how to become more efficient, time-conserving, and cost-cutting in our approaches to the future. If consumers can have three or four devices in one, why continue to maintain the separation of three or four functions? The increased functions of the smartphone, therefore, must become top priorities of Apple in its efforts to rebound after the Wall Street stock drops over the last four or five months.
While Apple boasts of its current domination in US market share, Cupertino will start to rip a page from Samsung’s Playbook in 2014 with its “iPhablet,” the iPhone version of Samsung’s very own phablet. Barclays argues that 5-inch smartphones will increase elevenfold by 2015, and Apple must jump on the bandwagon and become a part of the smartphone revolution. For the last few months, it was said that Apple would emerge with a budget-affordable iPhone in 2013, although tech analyst Gene Munster said that Apple’s budget-cost iPhone would not come to market until 2014. We know that the smartphone will be greater than 4.5 inches and will cost somewhere between $350 and $450 (unlocked), while priced at $99 or $100 on a two-year contract. In addition, rumors in recent days claim that the budget phone will look similar to the iPod Touch, the iPod classic, and have a polycarbonate plastic frame. If you have spotted the fifth-generation iPod Touch and envy its color preference, tech sources report that Apple’s budget phone will have a selection of colors, somewhere between 4 and 8 new colors. Blue, orange, yellow, green, pink, and red are among the new possible color choices.
Since this phone will be a budget phone made for both the US and developing markets (such as China and Asia), there are questions about whether or not Americans here at home will desire it. Features such as Retina display, Gorilla Glass, 4G LTE, and others may or may not be included in the budget phone. I think that these features may be cut in an attempt to maintain a low-cost iPhone, in the same way that Retina was eliminated from the first-generation iPad Mini. The addition of Retina will up the price approximately $70, and I cannot imagine what the price will be if the budget iPhone has 4G LTE. There may be some truth to the rumor that the budget iPhone will not have LTE, since most developing countries do not have LTE access. At the same time, Apple may develop an LTE and a non-LTE budget iPhone for American and worldwide consumers. Apple has produced two versions of its iPhone 5 (Apple’s first iPhone to sport LTE), so why would it treat the budget iPhone any differently?
Apple’s budget iPhone looks to be a success, but Apple will have to do more than play on its “Steve Jobs era” impression to rack in consumer sales. Consumers appreciate Apple’s numerous apps in its App Store, not to mention its fast downloads, iTunes ecosystem, and easy-to-find applications when on the iPhone desktop. At the same time, consumers want more than the predictable. A large number of apps is an excellent feature to attract smartphone users, but consumers also want the latest technology and discover new ways to use their smartphones to enhance their lives. Customers like the iPhone, but they want variety and variation with regard to color preference. 4G LTE is excellent technology for the iPhone (and we are thankful that Apple finally included 4G in its iPhone 5), but consumers want more than just 4G; they want greater memory storage amounts. As for memory storage, it looks as though Apple will produce its first, 128GB iPhone (the iPhone 5S) this July. At least there will be something new to anticipate.