Why iPhone Competitors Should Release Less Products

Ben Bajarin / August 9th, 2011

The Next Web asks an interesting question in this article titled “As Apple’s smartphone sales boom, should its rivals release fewer handsets?”

As I pointed out in my article “Why it matters that Apple is the number 1 smart phone maker,” Apple only needs one product each year to dominate the smart phone market. They are the only company that takes this approach. Every other smart phone manufacturer releases a plethora of handsets each year, many of them based on Android.

Arguably this massive amount of handset choice is one of the leading reasons Android has such a large market share. The interesting question TNW brings up is whether or not Apple’s strategy of one handset each year is a better strategy for each manufacturer.

For Apple they focus all their research, design, engineering, hardware, software, and services teams on just one product. The result is the single best selling handset year after year.

There are rumors that Apple may fragment the iPhone line and offer different priced options but for that we will have to wait and see. Even if Apple did that it would still be the iPhone brand.

The challenge Android has, which TNW brings up, is the Android brand – more specifically the Droid brand. This brand did wonders for Android in the very beginning as Motorola and Verizon spent millions of dollars marketing the Droid brand. Now however it is unclear to the end consumer what devices are “Droids” and which ones aren’t.

On top of the Droid brand we have manufacturers launching products with random names all the time. The Bionic, Sensation, Revoluion, Captivate, Status, Thrill, Photon, Triumph, and XPRT to name a few of the most recent. You have to be a gadget freak or gadget blogger to know what the difference between all those devices I just listed are and those are only half of the Android devices released since January of this year.

Putting yourself in the consumers shoes and trying to research and make a decision on which Android phone to buy could be daunting. I pointed out in a column I wrote for SlashGear earlier in the year that too much choice can be paralyzing for many consumers.

This is why the iPhone strategy has been so brilliant. It simplifies the decision making progress but is also arguably the best handset on the market as evidenced by huge sales. Apple’s less complicated product strategy and laser focus on making THE best handset is paying off.

The biggest benefit I can see for iPhone competitors to release less handsets each year would be that those competitors could pour more resources into fewer designs. The result I would assume would be better smart phones.

Personally I would love to see what a company like HTC, Motorola or Samsung could do if they poured all of their resources into one single device to try and take on the iPhone.

The problem is I don’t think they will do it.

Ben Bajarin

Ben Bajarin is a Principal Analyst and the head of primary research at Creative Strategies, Inc - An industry analysis, market intelligence and research firm located in Silicon Valley. His primary focus is consumer technology and market trend research and he is responsible for studying over 30 countries. Full Bio
  • Anonymous

    “Personally I would love to see what a company like HTC, Motorola or Samsung could do if they poured all of their resources into one single device to try and take on the iPhone.

    The problem is I don’t think they will do it.”

    Exactly. That is just not how they think, nor how they think they can or should do business.

    It is a shame.

    Joe

  • guest

    It should be fewer, not less.

  • Pedant

    The problem is that they are selling to a fractured marketplace – they don’t know whether to chase the low-budgets (who can’t afford an iPhone), or the geeks (who value open) – one product cannot cover that whole spectrum. Apple don’t care about the low budget, shrug off the openness geeks and settle for a large percentage of the middle ground.

  • Pingback: Android Hardware Is Too Saturated For Its Own Good | TechPinions()

  • Rich

    “The problem is I don’t think they will do it.”

    Probably not, but WHY won’t they do it?

    • Anonymous

      Yes, the million dollar question. It is a difference of strategy Apple employs a consumer centric strategy, they have this luxury because they control their own storefronts.

      Those who don’t employ a channel strategy. Which means flood the channel for the best shot at success since your products sit next to competitors.

      So the answer lies in having a consumer products approach or a channel strategy approach. Elaborating my analysis of both those strategies would take up way too much page space.

  • Paul

    Great article, so obvious you wonder why it needs to be written.

    Maybe only Apple can release one phone per year and get away with it, but there are definite benefits from reducing the line size to around seven even if you are attempting to stuff the channel … say intro, mid-range & high end touch screen phones, plus a slider. Each with the option of Android or Windows Phone 7. That’s 8 phones, and covers the non-Apple smart phone market. You could even drop the mid-range phone for better differentiation.

    The same argument exists for PCs – manufacturers should just release a tablet (10″), 4 laptops of varying sizes (11″, 13″, 15″, 17″), 4 desktop sizes (mini/HTPC, mid-tower for business desktops, full tower for workstations, all-in-one), and 3 monitors (21″, 24″ and 27″). That way, it might be possible to buy a PC online and not get confused.

    If my history is correct, Apple’s release history is reminiscent of the way cars were released in the 50s and 60s, with a (smaller) array of choices refreshed every year to get people down to the dealership.

  • bobama

    “should release fewer products” Please, download an app that teaches grammar, you sound like an arse.

    • steve_wildstrom

      Syntax, not grammar.

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