As a leader in personal computing, Apple product launch events often bear the burden of too much hype. Then as they launch new products that set new sales records, customer satisfaction levels, and needed health into the consumer electronics industry, people always seem to ask “have they done enough?” My stock answer is yes, and I am sticking with it.
The headroom to grow in the smart phone market is enormous. Smart phones are maturing as a market but we are far from market saturation. The global customer base is still ripe for the picking and Apple has raised the bar when it comes to the iPhone 5.
The Most Beautiful iPhone Yet
There is no doubt that there are smart phones in the market with larger screens than the iPhone 5. There is however no doubt that the iPhone 5 is the most beautiful smart phone on the market by a large margin. The iPhone 5, when you feel it, see it, and hold it, feels like a fine piece of jewelry. The quality and craftsmanship surrounding the iPhone 5 must be appreciated no matter what your opinion of Apple.
I often think that many underestimate the value of design when it comes to consumer markets. I have written extensively about how Apple turns technology into art and the iPhone 5 may be the ultimate manifestation of this observation.
Design plays a key role for those who sell hardware because well designed products stand out from the pack and captures consumers attention. The new iPhone 5 is going to be the crown jewel of every retailer who showcases in their store.
iPod–Don’t Call it a Comeback
Perhaps the part of today’s event that took most by surprise, was Apple’s injection of innovation back into the iPod line of products. Many have long assumed that it was inevitable for Apple to phase out the iPod line of products. The iPod line has been on a steady decline quarter after quarter but perhaps that is all about to change.
Although the iPod is no iPad or iPhone in terms of growth opportunity, it still fits strategically. Keep in mind that Apple is still the undisputed leader in the portable music player market. Some may argue that the portable music market is shrinking or disappearing but what if it is simply because no major upgrades have happened in this space Apple is looking to change that specifically with the new iPad Nano with its 2.5 inch multi-touch screen and bringing many of the same innovations of the iPhone 5 to the new iPod Touch.
Strategically both products exist to extend the Apple ecosystem for sections of the market who value a dedicated media player. Believe it or not, the world is not in a uniform move to converged devices only. Just look at Amazon’s Kindle e-Reader strategy to see this point. Tremendous market opportunities exist for those who create products that cater to specific customer needs. This is why the iPod line will still stay relevant for some time.
Also, there may be a lot of people who may never buy an iPhone and opt for Android but still want the rich features and media ecosystem that Apple offers their users. Now that the 4-inch iPod is similar to an iPhone, including Siri support, there could be a lot of Android customers who may buy iPods to supplement their Android phones that cannot not match Apple’s exceptional music, TV and movie content.
An interesting thing to think about is with the quality of the new iPod’s camera perhaps many may elect to purchase it as a point and shoot camera that does a whole lot more. Perhaps the new iPod is targeting the point and shoot camera market. With the inclusion of the Apple iPod Loop which is a camera strap, I think Apple feels the same way.
New To Apple Customers
There is an important perspective here that is worth remembering. Apple’s priority is keeping their customers happy. Apple is often criticized for integrating into their products features and functions that exist in competing platforms or hardware. That is all fine and good but for many consumers (over 400 million of them) they are not customers of competing platforms, they are customers of Apple. What matters is that Apple keeps their customers happy. These customers have invested time, money, and energy into Apple’s ecosystem and have no desire to leave.
That is exactly what they have done with the iPhone 5. They have brought key new features and functionality to their customers base. A customer base which I am convinced has extreme pent up demand for this new iPhone. Existing Apple customers will be extremely pleased with the latest generation iPhone and I fully expect the iPhone 5 to shatter all previous iPhone sales records. However, upon seeing this amazing new piece of hardware, I expect Apple to welcome many new members to the family.