iOS portfolio price distribution

With the iPad mini launch imminent, it’s time to think about the expanding iOS portfolio. We don’t know how much the “mini” will cost or what variants will be available but I took some rumors as a basis to form a hypothesis.

The idea is that there will be 24 variants which have three dimensions:

  • 2 colors
  • 4 capacities
  • 3 radio chipsets

The starting point would be $250 for an 8 Gb WiFi only model and increases of $100 for each doubling of capacity and $130 for the addition of cellular chipsets.

The results would slot into an increasingly broad price spectrum. I included all the models of iPod touch, iPhone and iPad that we already have available and built the following graph.


The number after each product name is capacity in Gb and the letter “w” signifies Wifi only and “c” signifies WiFi and Cellular.

You can look through the list and see whether products of comparable prices are “competing for a purchase decision” or whether there is some marketing logic to the arrangement. I consider the purchase decision not to be determined by price but by many factors like the job being offered by the product.

But in many cases buyers have a budget and are looking to fit a product into that price. This is more common when the product is a gift.

So with that in mind I created a quick motion chart in Perspective to answer the question: Given a budget, how much iOS device can you buy? You can “dial in” various price points and see what products are available with graphical representation of capacity.

If you are on an iPad and have Perspective, you can launch the story (with voice-over) through the following link:

Which iOS? How Much Money Do You Have?.

If you’re not an iPad but have one click on the “Send e-mail” to get a link in your inbox and open it on the iPad.

If you don’t have an iPad but have an iPhone, stay tuned as an iPhone version of the app will be ready soon.

  • RobotK

    Just a quick note: It looks like “iPod Touch 4G 32w” is listed twice with two different prices.

    • Sorry about that. The second two iPod touch 4G should be labeled 5G. I fixed it.

  • Sharon_Sharalike

    I don’t believe even Apple can get away with a 40% price increase to simply go from 8GB to 16 on the iPad Mini. Either that rumor is wrong or the 16 includes some other feature as well.

    • Agree. At some point Apple will have to trim their incremental margin on selling increased storage. This is more obvious on lower priced products.

      • Sharon_Sharalike

        I believe the worst one can do on any IOS device is pay $100 for an extra 16GB. So this would be the costliest upgrade. And it would stand out so much more because of the low base price.

        I don’t believe that rumor, as I think it would be a blunder to price it that way. The only possibility is that the 16GB would also be better in some other way.

      • rj

        Perhaps the 8GB model is intended to be an education-only “e-textbook” device, and will have fewer cameras, and maybe a cheaper CPU.

    • Tatil_S

      I suppose Horace could wait until the official announcement to be sure of the pricing. 🙂

      • fmjt

        Where’s the fun in doing that? 😉

    • Why couldn’t they get away with it? That’s exactly what they do with iPhones: three iPhone 5 models, each identical except for storage capacity, priced in $100 increments.

      That said, I think 8 GB is too low for the iPad mini. As @google-cc95a06de0c527f21c8198299062e9cf:disqus pointed out, the only iOS device that currently sells with 8 GB is the iPhone 4, which is the “free” phone and two generations old. If even the current iPod nano comes with 16 GB minimum, I think an iPad mini has to as well.

      • “If even the current iPod nano comes with 16 GB minimum, I think an iPad mini has to as well.”

        Good point. I agree.

      • Sharon_Sharalike

        The iPhone 5 starts at 16GB. This would be only an 8GB increase for $100. Nowhere else in the lineup does that happen. and in this case that $100 is an enormous percentage of the price. It would be a blunder, and the bad press would be loud and rampant.

  • Could the Perspective app have a switch that allowed users to see all products affordable at or below the slider value? I think this would be more useful than having the less expensive products disappear. Maybe make the matching products bright and the less expensive ones dimmer or grayed out (maybe not possible to do)?

    • Sure. The data to support that motion chart is left as an exercise to the reader.

  • Just a detail, the iPod touch 5G is available in 5 colours, sign of things to come?

  • Visiting Apple’s online store, one can still find “also” the $249- iPod classic!

    • Walt French

      …and I hope they continue to offer it, as every few years mine gives up the ghost and I really like to be able to choose among dozens of operas, hundreds of albums, and a couple of videos.

      But it ain’t iOS.

      As a postscript, I noted the recent iPod ad was ALL music: no videos, browsing, etc. Apple seems to want the iPod line distinct; maybe the Touch will become a nano iPad.

  • Eric


    The last three Perspective posts give me an invalid url message when I open the link in the app. (US, iPad1, iOS5) I have been unable to open any of them. Has something changed? The app is up to date.

  • joelion

    “8 Gb WiFi only model”
    “The number after each product name is capacity in Gb”

    both of these references should be GB (giga bytes), not Gb (giga bits).

  • Would be great to have the dataset with more dimensions (other than price) loaded of all the devices. If you don’t have all the dimensions perhaps this is a good choice for an experiment for crowdsourced data entry by the Asymco community. We can then feed it back to a Perspective story for everyone to consume.

  • Paul Campbell

    Thanks, Horace, so informative, as usual for your work. I think the carrier subsidized price points for devices are also useful for comparison, relative to the retail consumer’s decision-making. Paul

  • Noah Berlove

    An 8GB iPad mini seems highly unlikely.

    Thanks to the current iPad’s retina display, apps have gotten larger. If the iPad mini is expected to run made for iPad apps, 8GB will be very limiting.

    The only other 8GB iOS device currently being sold is the 2 year old iPhone 4. Nothing current is offered with less than 16GB. Even the current iPod nano is only offered at 16GB.

    No other iOS model has ever been offered in 4 capacities.

    The cost difference between 8GB and 16GB is so small (probably under $5)
    that selling a 16GB version for $250 would generate almost the same
    profit while being a much more attractive device. That said, I suspect the the will offer the 16GB WiFi only version for $300.

    • I totally agree. No iOS device in Apple’s lineup has 8GB now. The minimum is 16GB. What I see is the following;

      1. Two colors – Black & White
      2. Three capacities – 16 / 32 / 64 GB
      3. Four connectivity options – Wi-Fi / AT&T LTE / Verizon LTE / Sprint LTE
      4. Starting price of $249 for the cheapest model

      8GB option is DOA.

      On a side note, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple drops the 16GB version of the iPad Retina and just have 32GB for $499 and 64GB for $599.

      • Not true. Apple still sells the iPhone 4 in 8GB.

      • My bad. You are correct. But I still stand by my opinion that an 8GB iPad Mini is DOA and a big mistake just to hit a psychological price point.

        With the size of apps growing every year due to HiDpi displays or more features / sophistication even 16GB will soon be too little.

      • fmjt

        I believe that 8GB iPad Mini is entirely possible due to psychological reason.

        The cheapest iPad Mini is $250 but it’s very likely that during the buying process a customer would end up buying a $350 16GB iPad Mini.

        “If I’m going to spend $250 for an iPad Mini, I might as well fork out additional $100 for a bigger storage”

      • The iPod Nano only comes in 16GB. The iPod Touch starts at 16GB. The iPad 2 and iPad Retina start at 16GB. Starting the iPad Mini at 8GB makes no sense and is very inconsistent. Plus $249 for 8GB and $349 for 16GB iPad Mini is overpriced compared the Kindle Fire HD and Nexus 7. Especially, since very soon you’ll be able to get a 32GB Nexus 7 for $260.

      • Noah Berlove

        You could make the same argument with a $250 16GB version vs. a $350 32GB version.

        Look, there is a difference between cheap and inexpensive. A $250 iPad would be (relatively) inexpensive regardless of capacity. An 8GB iPad would be cheap regardless of price. Apple does not make cheap products.

      • cmoore

        I totally agree that an 8gb ipad makes no sense on a lot of levels, particularly when this is supposed to be a consumption device and it wouldn’t even hold 2 hd movies. In the end you just end up with dissapointed customers. Unkfortunately based on all of the leaks it seems likely they’re gonna do it anyway.

      • hoth

        The rumors are implying that the iPad mini is being marketed to schools as an iBook vehicle. 8GB would hold many, many books.

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  • I am more inclined to think there will be 3 capacities and 4 wireless models. Wifi- and three LTE chipsets variations. That’s what the IP5 has– 3 models for LTE. Make sense it would be same for new iPad.

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  • Hey!! Every week I have read out your blogs and all blogs are informative. So take care and keep rocking.

  • BoydWaters

    Look! The OS X devices start at the very next price bin!
    (and Apple dropped the “Mac” from OS X)

  • Nice graphic presentation. Looks awfully familiar how volume-driven companies tend to construct their offering. So much for the claims of the tech romantics that good old analytical portfolio planning is no longer needed. The unique thing in Apple’s case (so far), of course, is the discipline in variation. Instead of all these being individual products extending the addressable market (and increasing complexity), these are thought as delivery vehicles of one product (iOS software).

  • bick

    Here’s something people are not considering, but which might positively surprise Wall St.. Apple announces an early refresh of The New iPad (3) on Tuesday. Why? Because it’s clear Apple wants to transition all their iPods, iPhones, and iPads to the new Lightning connector as quickly as possible. No way can Apple sell The New iPad this holiday quarter with the old connector when everything else including the iPad mini is using the Lightning connector. Perhaps the large number of SKU’s for the mini is because this includes the current iPad.

    Alternatively, it makes a lot of sense to have a selection of new colors for a lower-end iPad mini just as the iPod nano has many colors while the iPod Touch is more “business”.

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