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Apple has decided that there can, in fact, be more than one. The company announced today it is releasing two new iPhone designs: the iPhone 5S and the 5C.
The 5C starts at $99, with contract. In another first for Apple, the 5C comes swathed in variable shades of high molecular mass petrochemical polymers (aka plastic). The more expensive 5S, which starts at $199 with contract, also breaks new visual ground by coming in a golden, vaguely champagney color last seen in mid-1990s Mercedes sedans.
In terms of specs, the Verge has great rundowns of both the 5C and the 5S. In short, the 5C is “essentially an iPhone 5 inside a colored plastic shell with an improved front-facing camera and improved battery size”. The 5S has a faster processor, improved camera, and “an integrated fingerprint sensor in the new sapphire home button”.
Apple, says Horace Dediu, is broadening its portfolio to catch up in a segment of the market it has so far consciously avoided. “I think a lot of the momentum that has been lost in the past year in terms of sales growth has been because of the lack of low end”. The now-outdated 4S will be offered free with a two-year contract. Neil Irwin thinks that Apple aims “to compete with cheaper competitors among the cash-strapped around the world”.
Despite being dubbed the cheap iPhone, Christopher Mims has doubts about the viability of the 5C in emerging markets:
Since most phones in emerging markets are sold without the subsidy that comes with a monthly plan, people must pay the full cost of a phone upfront. At $549 even for the base model, the iPhone 5C remains a luxury item in China and other emerging markets.
Matt Lynley concurs, and notes that “Apple executives… basically skipped mentioning the unsubsidized pricing” at the unveiling. Apple CEO Tim Cook also offered up a chart of cumulative iPhone sales, which looks extremely impressive. However, iPhone sales, David Yanofsky notes, have declined each of the last three quarters (albeit, after a multi-year run of growth).
All Things D’s John Paczkowski nicely summed up Cook’s response to worries that Apple’s cheaper iPhone would cut into its own sales: “Apple doesn’t much care about cannibalization as long as it’s another Apple product that’s doing the cannibalizing”.
On that note, one product that isn’t going away is the world’s most meticulously designed, music-playing external hard-drive: the iPod Classic. — Ben Walsh
On to today’s links:
The financial crisis’s most notorious CEOs are doing just fine – Center for Public Integrity
Five years after the crisis, banks are still too big, too opaque, and too interconnected – Bloomberg