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Tim Cook's answer to my first question

Tim Cook was asked the first question (on the iPhone portfolio). His answer is paraphrased here:

We haven’t so far. That doesn’t shut off the future. Why? It takes a lot of really hard work to do a phone right when you manage the hardware and software and services in it. We’ve chosen to put our energy on doing that right. We haven’t been focused on working multiple lines.

Think about the evolution of the iPod over time. The shuffle didn’t have the same functionality as other products. It was a really good product, but it played a different role — it was great for some customers it was strikingly different than other iPods. The mini played a different role than the classic did. If you remember when we brought out the mini people said we’d never sell any. It was too expensive and had too little storage. The mini proved that people want something lighter, thinner, smaller. My only point is that these products all served a different person, a different type, a different need. For the phone that is the question. Are we now at a point that we need to do that?

At a macro level, a large screen today comes with a lot of tradeoffs. When you look at the size, but they also look at things like do the photos show the proper color? The white balance, the reflectivity, battery life. The longevity of the display. There are a bunch of things that are very important. What our customers want is for us to weigh those and come out with a decision. At this point we think the Retina display is the best. In a hypothetical world where those tradeoffs didn’t exist, you could see a bigger screen as a differentiator.

Full interview here, answer begins around minute 37.

Here is how I interpret the answer:

  • The iPhone portfolio may still arrive. It hasn’t so far because the cost/benefit is not there for Apple. On one hand it would take a great deal more sourcing effort and risk while dealing with constraints in production. On the other it would not not offer meaningful additions to the customer base. At least so far. The economics and the demand may change (or have changed) and the time will come for a broader portfolio.
  • The comparison to iPod is not entirely appropriate because as a music player, the iPod had a relatively small set of jobs to do. It was hired for exercise, escapism, isolation, etc. It was not hired for apps and services which extend the medium itself. In other words it was not a computer. As a computer, the iPhone has a near infinite set of jobs to be done and it’s the hundreds of thousands of apps which help it perform them. But as a result the iPhone needs to conform to the dynamics of ecosystems and that means consistency of APIs and user experience. It cannot vary in terms of input methods, or be below minimum requirements of screen size or memory and power.
  • Because of the rapidly expanding job space, Apple believes the iPhone was not “good enough” for all these years. The improvements shipped for each generation were all “meaningful” in that they were valuable and absorbable. Users would use the new features (like better screens, cameras, battery, etc.) and they were willing to pay for them (as evidenced by the sustained high average price).
  • On the question of what the extension might be, changing screen size is one dimension but it has to be balanced by performance gains that don’t detract from other dimensions. Engineering is all about compromise and consumers pay Apple to make these compromises in an intelligent way. Apple does not come to an answer to the question of balance by launching many products and seeing what works. It cannot afford to dilute its brand with a long list of failures. Other brands may not be affected by trial-and-error approaches to the market but they are discounted by the customer accordingly.

 

  • harishjonnalagadda

    Great analysis

  • http://devin.reams.me/ Devin Reams

    Doesn’t the iPod Touch fill nearly all the same “infinite” jobs in your second point? The biggest one missing being cellular communication (messaging, voice calls) in a device you always carry with you (not a separate phone vs. computer).

    It seems through services (iMessage, FaceTime) they’re starting to pull the mobile world away from the carrier ties allowing (potentially) easier and more market penetration… right? Then they’re just selling devices (like iPods) like they’ve always been doing. Worth noting, it appears the same appears to be happening with Google via Hangouts (messaging, calls).

    • Mark Jones

      That biggest one missing thing of cellular communication is a very very very big thing for a product people carry as they move from place to place. It goes way beyond messaging and voice calls, as no communication also means no “Internet communicator.” Wifi coverage today is tiny compared to cellular. Simply put, an iPod touch cannot be counted on to be “always-connected”, and that significantly changes the jobs to do. (This is also seen in how carrier coverage is usually the top criteria in phone purchases, and thus why distribution – signing up carriers – is a big deal.)

      • macyourday

        So how much would a new iPod touch model with cellular actually cost? A new mini ipad mini that makes calls with a prepaid account like the ipad cellular but voice enabled. How much would that upset the carriers? Could they not have a voice enabled plan or will that upset the hegemony? Maybe this could be for those “other” markets that need a cheap phone.

      • KirkBurgess

        What exactly would the difference be between your proposed cellular/voice enabled iPod touch and the iPhone?

        The iPod touch is exactly the same as the iPhone except for the lack of cellular & voice capability. So adding that in would essentially mean creating another iPhone that’s pretty much exactly the same as already existing models.

      • http://devin.reams.me/ Devin Reams

        Agreed, the ubiquitous connectivity is hard to solve. And is absolutely something to consider when looking at developing nations — they don’t typically have access to high-bandwidth cellular (most communication happening via SMS). With Google launching wifi via blimps in Africa, and Apple putting out the 16 GB iPod Touch today, perhaps its not far off to consider a wireless-only device is part of the ‘portfolio’.

  • http://www.behance.net/ximagin RickParris

    So, Apple products are viewed by Apple as a series of choices made by Apple on behalf of their customers as they perceive them. This implies that Apple is self selecting their customers through the design choices they make. Every time Apple designers and engineers reach a conclusion about what the customer would like they are deciding that some buyers who won’t agree with that conclusion are not Apple customers.

    This fits, hand-in-glove, with your perspective that Apple is designing to fit the job they perceive their customers are paying the iPhone to perform. Each buyer is hiring a phone for their job requirements. Some will choose iPhone. Others will choose any of the competitors according to their job requirement. But are the other competitors designing for their customers or for everyone?

    One phone can’t meet all requirements. Design choices choose customers and vice versa.

    • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

      Keep in mind that people that can meaningfully not agree with technical decisions are very very few. How many electronic engineer are out there?

    • handleym

      I think you’re trying to spin this the wrong way. Let’s consider a different market as an example. So let’s consider TVs, a market where Apple has no role, and there is no Apple equivalent.

      What happens when I buy a TV. I go to Best Buy and I see a wall of perhaps 80 different models. How do I choose?

      I have a rough idea (perhaps) of what an appropriate size should be, but beyond that I have very little to guide me. I could pay more (to a lot more) for an established brand like Sony or Toshiba rather than a no-name brand like Insignia, but how can I be sure that what I am paying for is extra quality rather than either JUST the brand name or for a set of features (built in Facebook and YouTube) that are poorly thought out, work badly, and aren’t ever going to be updated over the ten year or so life-span on this TV?

      When I went through this about a year ago, as someone savvier than most consumers, I landed up buying the Insignia (Best Buy’s house brand) because it was cheapest, and the extra cost of the competitors did not seem to offer anything of value. Was this the best choice? Money was not a serious constraint (as opposed to value for money). The Insignia has very good features (remarkably low power draw), OK features (sound), and worse than expected features (the picture viewing angle is narrower than I would like and desaturates for off-angle viewing).

      But would I have been better off buying a Sony? I have no reason to believe so. It’s been a long time since I trusted that Sony put customer needs first. How about Samsung? The quality of the Samsung Faroudja circuits is hideous (and obviously visible on the screen). If they’re willing to ship such crap, rather than just not bothering to attempt temporal-interpotalion, how can I trust the quality of any other part of the system? etc

      The point is — maybe you look at this and see a perfect market, where someone can spend three months doing the background research and thereby pick out fro, these 80 TVs one that’s a perfect match for their needs. I, however, see a flawed market which is not serving a major subset of the population: people who are willing to spend a little more to get something that is guaranteed (not just legally, but as a kind of implicit trust) to have been carefully thought out as a reasonable compromise along all the relevant engineering dimensions.

      You look at phones and see a world where people WANT to choose between OLED and LCD screen, between Exynos and Krait, between their or that camera specs, this or that flash specs, this or that DRAM specs. I see a world where, like I said, there is a substantial population that are willing to pay for a phone that they trust has been balanced in a way that most likely meets their needs. This is what Apple has promised, and for the most part what is has delivered. Yes, you won’t get LTE 1st gen in an iPhone because Apple feels that if you’re their target customer you’ll probably find it a bad trade-off between power and performance. That’s the WHOLE POINT of buying Apple, precisely that they DO make that tradeoff for you.

      You are welcome to claim that you have specialized needs that aren’t well matched by the tradeoffs that Apple chooses to make. You are NOT welcome to claim that your desires in this respect match those of the entire world.

      Design choices DO choose customers, yes; but it’s better (both for customers and as a commercial strategy) to have a company doing this designing, making these choices, DELIBERATELY (ie with deliberate and conscious thought) rather than the alternatives which tend to be one of
      - check box features (regardless of how well they work) or
      - throw random crap out and see what happens to it
      or
      - skimp on the features we know matter (but won’t be noticed by reviewers and don’t appear in the spec lists) so that we can look good “by the numbers”.

      • Walt French

        Let me guess that other companies make their choices at least *almost* as deliberately as Apple, but people don’t rag on them because if you really need to have a replaceable battery, there’s another company that has almost the same product with that feature.

        Last time I shopped for a car, I started with the certainty of a manual transmission sportster, and a general price range, then found the specific car (a used Acura) that best fit. The fact that several fine brands such as BMW and Lexus had nothing in the category was no problem for me.

        But somehow when it comes to phones, people get all excited that because Apple doesn’t offer My Important Feature X, God should smite Apple down.

        I’m a bit of a tech fanatic, and follow a couple of sites that describe the workings of CPUs etc. But that type of interest has very little to do with choosing the best phone for my, or anybody else’s, general use.

      • http://www.behance.net/ximagin RickParris

        I’m not sure what part of my comment led you to believe that I felt Apple wasn’t deliberately making design choices. Nothing could be further from my view. I believe Apple may be the only company who understands that design has to be a mindful process. What I was getting at was my dawning awareness that Apple not only makes deliberate design choices but that they’re mindful of their choices side effect… namely that their choices eliminate some buyers from the ranks of Apple customers. I think they may also be the only company who is mindful of this process as well.

        Apple is defining their customers in their design choices.

        The benefits of this mindful selection through design are self evident. The loyalty of their customers, the affection their users have for their products, Apple’s share of profits relative to their competitors, the amount their devices are used for browsing and other applications vs. their competitors… all of these can be drawn back to Apple’s choice of who they wish to have as their customers.

        And that choice is made manifest through their design choices.

  • Padova44

    Your question was interesting. Cook’s answer more interesting.

  • def4

    On that last point, there’s more to it than brand dilution. Clear market segmentation is a powerful signal that can be of great help to the mass market casual buyer.

    I have a story to illustrate this point.
    About a decade ago, my mother decided to buy a video camera. As the computer guy of the family, I didn’t want to let her just buy anything but at the same time did not have the time and energy to do exhaustive research.
    Luckily, after just a bit of research I found the perfect recommendation for my situation: buy the most expensive Sony video camera you can afford.
    It was presented as a rule of thumb, not as a guarrantee of making the perfect choice, but it was exactly what I was looking for.

    I believe that should be the goal of any product portfolio strategy and it seems to me that Apple tries to achieve it.
    It’s pretty safe to say they have successfully did so in the case of the iPod.
    It is indeed harder to execute it for computing products, but at least we know what the direction should be.

  • http://sumocat.blogspot.com Sumocat

    I disagree with your analysis of the iPod comparison. Cook is
    essentially saying that differentiation within a product line should be
    done to serve different purposes. Expanding the iPhone line then would not
    simply be a matter of offering a cheaper one or a bigger one, but one
    that is functionally different.

    I would go a step further and
    specify that a different iPhone must shed the complexities you have
    described. The iPhone was hired to simplify mobile computing. Is it
    still doing that job or has it grown too complex? Or to put it another
    way, is the iPhone where the PC was when the iPhone was introduced? When
    the answer is “yes” then Apple must deliver a new, simpler iPhone. See
    Ray Ozzie’s vision of a Post-PC world for reference:
    http://ozzie.net/docs/dawn-of-a-new-day/

    • http://www.behance.net/ximagin RickParris

      Is simplicity a goal or a discipline? I think Apple uses the discipline of simplicity in designing their products but I don’t think they set out to design a “simple product”. They set out, I believe to design a phone and try to design the simplest design that achieves that goal.

      If you’re hiring a phone to do complex tasks an arbitrarily simplified phone may be frustrating.

      • http://sumocat.blogspot.com Sumocat

        Simplicity is both goal and discipline, but as Ray Ozzie states “as time goes on and as software products mature – even with the best of intent – complexity is inescapable.” With its APIs and ecosystem and all that, the iPhone has accrued complexity. They’re not embracing it the way Samsung has with their rapidly bloating software, but they can’t fight it forever. At some point, they will need to refresh. It may not be with a new, simpler device to complement the iPhone line, but it needs to be something.

      • rationalchrist

        Hardware: Put cellular chip in the current generation iPod nano
        Software: Go back to original iPhone 2: no third party app allowed. Therefore No app to worry for resolution and screen size
        A feature/smart phone meets the need of 50% market segment: women. Also developing country that has no credit card in iTune.

      • tfd2

        are you implying that women are not capable of finding the utility in third party apps?

      • rationalchrist

        No. Women prefer iPod nano dimension. It is pretty and small to fit.

      • http://alexandersmith.co/ Benjamin Alexander

        What dimension do men prefer?

      • Tatil_S

        I have the opposite observation. Women around me seem to prefer larger screen sizes, possibly because they usually carry around a purse already, so “it does not fit in my pocket” is not a concern.

      • handleym

        This answer is silly.
        If someone finds the complexity of 3rd party apps too much, the answer is simple. They buy an iPhone and never install a single 3rd party app. Problem solved.

        You are proposing a solution to a problem that does not exist.

      • rationalchrist

        The problem is the third-party apps are lagging if Apple introduces another screen size and resolution. Eliminating third-party apps allows Apple to bring good experience and good UI quicker on different size of iPhone nano, etc. Also allows Apple to reach down feature semi-smart phone market segment.

      • Tatil_S

        I had the same thought, but my ideal market for that device is the older generation and the poor. My “no third party app” idea was a more of an invitation only store, with a limited number of games and a few productivity apps. I don’t see how Apple can put out a phone that is substantially cheaper to manufacture without sucking at everything a regular iPhone can do. The easiest solution is to remove some of the possibilities, as it is sometimes less frustrating for a customer if a function that does not work well is never presented in the first place.

      • Slurpy2k12

        Apple has done a remarkable job keeping the surface UI of iOS consistent and simple, while incrementally making it more powerful, robust, and capable under the surface. I do not believe iOS has gotten more “complex”, and the very fact that it has visually changed so little since inception is what makes Apple a target of the LOL IPHONE IS SO STALE attacks, which completely miss the fact that the visual “staleness” is by design, which stayed carefully consistent to maintain familiarity and intuitiveness. Unlike, for example, the Galaxy S4, which includes a separate “easy mode” in its interface, this is not something Apple would ever do.

      • Will

        iOS I’m afraid has become stale and outdated. While many good designs exists in the current version of iOS, many functions are quite backwards to preserve this simplicity (though not most). Like managing Wifi. Hopefully will get addressed in iOS7

      • http://sumocat.blogspot.com Sumocat

        I agree with your claim that “Apple has done a remarkable job keeping the surface UI of iOS consistent and simple.” But I point you to Ray Ozzie’s claim that “Success begets product requirements. And even when superhuman engineering and design talent is applied, there are limits to how much you can apply beautiful veneers before inherent complexity is destined to bleed through.”

        The iPhone’s complexity is not on the surface, at the UI, but it grows beneath. As Horace points out, “the iPhone needs to conform to the dynamics of ecosystems and that means consistency of APIs and user experience. It cannot vary in terms of input methods, or be below minimum requirements of screen size or memory and power.” Those restrictions did not exist when the iPhone was introduced. It carried some legacy from the iPod and iTunes but was mostly free to be different. Steve Jobs had not even intended to open it to third-party developers. That the iPhone has grown in complexity is irrefutable. But is it to the point that Apple must create a different iPhone? That is the question Tim Cook poses. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. What matters is Cook knows to ask the question.

    • handleym

      Simplicity has been fetishized to the point of absurdity. (And so we get Win8).
      Simplicity is not about crippled devices, and it’s not about being able to do only a few things.

      Simplicity is about removing busywork, that is all. Consider Time Machine. We have a job — back up the mac. The simple solution is — plug in an HD, the Mac asks if you want to use it as the backup drive, you say yes.

      Where does it become non-simple?
      (a) Bugs. There have been a few in Time Machine, there remains one terrible bug. But bugs are fixed by fixing them, not by abandoning the product.

      (b) Feature discovery. You want to do something, but don’t know how to, or don’t even know that something useful to you is possible. (These could be things like “how do I restore from Time Machine?”, which is not exactly obvious; “how do I restore my entire system from Time Machine?”, “how do I remove a particular file or folder from Time Machine?”; “how do I remove the backup of a particular date from Time Machine?”, or “did you know you can alternate backups between different Time Machine Volumes?”

      This is not a solved problem. We make do right now with Google which (unlike earlier on-machine help systems) does a pretty good job with synonyms, with figuring out useful results even when we don’t know the vocabulary we should be using to explain our problem.

      In light of this:
      Bugs are always going to exist and are always going to be infuriating. Talking about them as complexity is a waste of everyone’s time. Of course the solution there is to fix the bug.

      Your solution to Feature Discovery is to remove the feature. This is not helpful either. People are not morons. Just because I’m a doctor or a lawyer or a politician doesn’t mean I don’t have sophisticated needs (eg multiple different email accounts I want to aggregate).

      There is a problem with Feature Discovery, but the long-term answer, I suspect, is a better version of the Google situation we have today. Imagine a help engine that could harness the power of Google to understand the type of query you have, but with some AI filtering the answers that are returned to you. (And perhaps with human beings in the loop noticing patterns of queries which are generating useless results.) We don’t have that today — but can you be sure we can’t have that in ten years?

      The point of computers is to let human beings do ANYTHING. That goal is not served by restricting what computers can do, it is served by making it POSSIBLE for people to access all this power.

      • http://sumocat.blogspot.com Sumocat

        Windows 8 is the opposite of simple. It is essentially one OS (Metro/Modern) layered upon an existing one. It exemplifies the life-crushing complexity Ray Ozzie warned against (which his former colleagues clearly ignored).

        That aside, when did I say anything about dropping features? Certainly a different device will do different things and/or do them differently, and features will be lost as a result, but this is not the primary intent. More importantly, different devices can also offer additional different features. Certainly the Macbook is a more powerful computer than the iPhone, yet the iPhone offers many features a Macbook does not. Neither seems “crippled” compared to the other.

  • Paul

    I think your (Horace’s) answer is correct (“as a result [of being a computer,] the iPhone needs to conform to the dynamics of ecosystems and that means consistency of APIs and user experience”). But I do not do not think that Mr. Cook really said this. He may believe this and I want to believe that he believes this. But I didn’t see anything that suggests this.

    I can think of two triggers for a new phone:

    1) There is a truly differentiating, extremely high demand feature that is fundamentally incompatible with the current phone (i.e., cannot be added without taking away something basic).

    2) The ecosystem becomes so firmly established that the cost of confusion to Apple from partial incompatibility (on APIs, user experience, interface, etc.) is worth the benefit of expanded earnings.

    q10a1.blogspot.com

  • Mani Ghasemlou

    I thought Tim Cook spelled out the reason for a lack of iPhone portfolio quite cogently.

    The iPod portfolio represents a lineup of products that all achieve the same core function, with each model representing a very significant set of tradeoffs. Thus Apple was able to build an iPod portfolio and sell each model in sufficient quantity.

    The iPhone, while sharing similar dimensions as the iPod lineup, is an entirely different beast. It is a full fledged computing device. So, Tim Cook and others at Apple may have asked themselves: Can the core functions of the iPhone be met while making a significant set of tradeoffs such that an iPhone “portfolio” can be produced and sold in quantity?

    I think up until today, the answer is no. In other to maintain the core functions of the iPhone, it is fair to assume the device needs a multitouch display of a certain size, with a certain set of wireless capabilities, battery life, processor power, etc. The current iPhone lineup is Apple’s best answer to this dilemma today.

    This does not preclude Apple from launching some kind of device that features a subset of the iPhone’s capabilities (with perhaps additional features not available in the iPhone). Maybe this is the wearable computing area of interest Tim Cook is alluding to. Such a theoretical device could very well serve the needs of the markets where Apple is not currently dominating. However — I predict that if such a device were to be launched, it would not be called an iPhone Shuffle.

  • http://twitter.com/mozfart willo

    I have a hard time buying the argument that TC always gives when talking about a larger screen 4-5″. You is indirectly saying that a 4-5″ screen does not have the correct color reproduction, whitebalance, contrast, saturation and brightness as a 4″ retina display. If “technology” is the limiting factor here, they why do we have excellent iPad retina and Macbook Pro Retina? Those screens are just as good as an iphone 5 screen.

    Oh the other hand, I believe the real issue at hand is aspect ration and resolution in terms of Applications. IOS is becoming more and more fragmented because of it, as it should when you aspect rations and resolutions is introduced in new products.

    I wish Apple could come up with a completely new approach to this, say create a system that automatically downscales correctly, and allow developers to develop in say UltraHD 3860×2180 resolution, and automatically just generate versions to various devices.

    The interview was good and I for one did not find TC dodge questions, he provided insightful information about the thought process at Apple. Obviously, he did not announce any products or hint too much. But they take great care about the decision making, and they will succeed in create a new breakthrough. No doubt.

    • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

      Price can be a limiting big retina factor, but also ecosystem consistence. SJ said that Apple knows how to support developers and build an ecosystem that let them thrive and in fact iOS developers are pretty happy with what Apple did. One rule to maintain them happy in consistency, the opposite is Android display fragmentation.
      A big screen carries troubles, they will make it only sales will absolutely require it, non for a niche.

      • http://twitter.com/mozfart willo

        My point exactly, I feel Tim Cook is being a bit dishonest about this. Apple would have no technical problem creating an 5″ phone, but they would have a more fragmented ecosystem. This is the true reason.

        He should stop saying it´s because of quality of the screen like whitebalance, contrast, color reproduction and brightness. It´s a poor deflection argument, which is clearly not the case.

      • handleym

        How can you be sure it’s not a technical issue?

        We KNOW that the iPad retina display uses different tech from the iPhone retina display, tech which is substantially more power hungry.

        Cook may be absolutely correct: the only tech available today in 5″ that meets Apple’s demands in terms of color consistency etc may be what’s used in iPad, and that may be too power hungry for a phone.

      • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

        Not only fragmentation, I have included price.
        A good retina display with good trade off in the factors indicated by Cook has a higher cost of poor big displays. Furthermore a big display requires more battery power, hence a bigger and more costly battery.
        I believe the main reason the Android makers have adopted bigger screens are not user’s preferences but battery life.
        They had to match iphone performance with a more demanding o.s. and cpu, so they had to use bigger batteries and hence bigger phones to have the space for the batteries and so a strong marketing campaign on bigger is better.
        From the usage point of view it is not, smaller iphone can be used by one hand, is lighter, feels better in your pocket and near your ear.
        From the viewing point of view a retina bigger display is better, but a poor bigger display is not.
        I can see two different products, one for phone usage the other for computer usage with different display sizes, but going bigger without the same quality is not an option.

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

      You missed battery, logistics, sourcing and device size. Lighting a larger screen is harder (cost) to do than lighting a smaller screen. OLED’s make this less of an issue but color on OLEDs are (so far) between bad and hideous. Likewise, OLED has high power-usage on white screens that are common on iOS apps. There is a reason Android apps tend to favor white on black and iOS (like the web and most desktops apps) favors Black on white.

      So there are tradeoffs. Apple has never been a company to have a product for all people. They don’t make a ruggedized Mac for example. I don’t expect them too.

      Personally, add voice capabilities to the iPad mini and call it a day:-)

      • http://twitter.com/mozfart willo

        Remember when Phil Schiller launched the iPhone5, he said making things bigger is easy.

        Of course by increasing the screen size, you have more space to use for battery as well. And as for cost and quality, just take a look at the 7.9″ iPad Mini. Here you have a non-retina screen at a much larger size, and yet the cost for the iPad Mini with the baseband chip is considerably lower than the iPhone 5.

        I would like to see Apple release an 5″ phone, personally I would not buy it – but I know many people who would. Also, it would once and for all close the “small screen” argument against Android.

        And I completely agree with you regarding iPad mini. I can´t see any reason why it does not have voice capabilities, it has all the required chips already. Apple has kept it away for a reason, now you have to buy an iPhone AND an iPad.

    • Walter Milliken

      If I’m not mistaken, Apple was working towards resolution independence a while back in Mac OS X, and seems to have abandoned it. I suspect the problems are twofold:

      (1) while it’s easy to scale fonts and vector graphics, dynamically changing bitmap images is not always successful in producing crisp images. And since many UI elements these days are icons, this could be a major issue.

      (2) Layout and UI considerations like hit target size aren’t taken into account with simple scaling. Different aspect ratios and overall device size can make a big difference in what makes a good interface — note the difference between iPhone and iPad apps. Some apps scale easily, others do not.

      I think Apple is ultimately going to wind up with three iOS screen “families” based on the narrow dimension: the 320/640 family (iPhone/iPod Touch), the 768/1536 family (iPad) and the 1080 family (Apple TV). Only the first two of those are supported by the App Store, but it wouldn’t surprise me to see a 1080 family handheld device at some point, at which point we’ll almost certainly see it opened to apps. It’s a bit interesting that the latest iPhone rumor is for a 1.5Mpix screen, which if it were a 1080 device would have roughly the same 3:2 aspect ratio as the older iPhones (but not be suitable for 1080p HD fullscreen movies).

      • SuperMatt

        They have done anything BUT abandon resolution independence in OS X. The prime example is the retina-display Macbook Pro.

      • resolution

        This isn’t resolution independent at all. Or, if it is, so was the iPhone 4, etc. Just going 2x resolution was avoiding implementing resolution independence and they abandoned all the old methods they had been working on. Usually people take resolution independence to mean providing a continuum of fractional scaling.

      • Walt French

        OSX continues to emphasize multiple screen sizes, and multiple resolutions. Especially with the Retina displays on MacBookPros, it’s not going away anytime soon.

        The recent retina iPad announcement bulked up a couple of Apple’s products, such as Keynote, due to keeping multiple-resolution bitmap images. That’s a bit inelegant, but at least is quick. But few apps rely on multiple, most- or full-screen bitmaps and so can use ordinary existing iOS tools to lay out their screens.

  • Will

    So… is he saying they can’t build a large screen phone without those trade offs? What’s stopping them? They have the money…

    • bradisrj

      No, he is saying they haven’t YET chosen to build a larger screen phone because of the tradeoffs. Money isn’t stopping them, gaining enough from making the choices is.

      • Will

        Ah so basically waiting for the technology to get cheaper, solving the trade offs cheaply without sacrificing profit margins.

  • dr.no

    Asymco may wish to show the reader ASP of ipod
    prior to mini and after. It halved if I had to guess.
    Obviously ipod touch is not considered in the family of iphone.
    Bigger Screen, ya its called iPad.

    I rest my case.

    subsidy, subsidy subsidy.

  • bradisrj

    Bigger screens create an issue of matching or balancing resolution of apps. I think @Willo’s point: a new approach to resolution independence is what Apple is likely seeking.

    Portfolio question misses the mark imho on one score, there are two ways to differentiate for the market. One, is price, which Apple is already doing. Two, distinct features / capabilities which Apple has not really done yet. I’d argue that Apple hasn’t done #2 yet because a significant portion of consumers who choose based on this won’t choose Apple anyway, either because Apple isn’t going to provide the level of control those users want / need or with many in this category of possible users, they cannot be convinced to buy Apple under any circumstances. IE: there is a real and sizeable set of users who will only buy an Apple phone if it is not and Apple branded phone, err, they won’t buy an Apple phone.

  • RichLo

    One main point Cook keeps alluding to is user experience. I am sure they could easily add voice capability to the iPad Mini and there you go Apple wins they have the biggest phone, but would it be enjoyable to use? Apple learned years back getting into a tech specs and cost war doesnt lead to higher profits or happier consumers.

    Jobs said he made products that he would enjoy using, I am guessing this is the philosophy still followed by the decision makers in Apple.

  • http://www.isophist.com/ Emilio Orione

    Or in other words: focus is our strategy, we believe in behavioral market and not in portfolio theory

  • Defendor

    Talking about color quality as a tradeoff against a larger seems like misdirection. The 4th generation iPad has a much bigger retina screen with great quality as well (possibly better). Apple would have no issue getting 5″ quality screens if they wanted them.

    Really this is a straight cost-benefit analysis. Will a bigger screen generate enough NEW sales and revenues to balance the huge effort Apple would put into the second line. Are that many people really skipping Apple because of the smaller screen?

    If it were my decision, I think I would also be looking at going head to head with Androids market leaders. They seem to thrive best where Apple isn’t. Right now that is in big screen phones. Apple should stop letting them have a free ride in that space.

    Really it appears that Cook just isn’t as ruthless as most business leaders that would jump at the chance to take on a competitors successful niche.

    • http://twitter.com/mozfart willo

      You are right, however fragmentation is the challenge going forward. For each special resolution or aspect ratio is introduced, the more fragmented the ecosystem becomes, and the more work is put on developers.

      If they ever release an television set, it is very likely it will be 16:9 aspect ratio at a resolution of 3840×2160, and it won´t be ready until h265 is ready.

      I think resolution fragmentation of the ecosystem is Apples main challenge moving forward. One would think there could be a market for a larger iPad as well, say 13″. Not to mention a potential OSX11 with multitouch screen and the ability to run IOS apps. These two platforms IOS and OSX will converge at some point, it just inevitable. I think some solution of effective downscaling has to be introduced, and a major shit from pixelated graphics to more vector style graphics. Create your app in a very high resolution, and have it automatically downscaled to fit all the various devices.

    • Brian_M_CDN

      larger retina screen uses more battery, with the iPad 3rd & 4th gen they compromised the better screen for additional thickness & weight. To ship a larger phone at this time, a similar compromise would have to be made… this could change with upcoming technology.

      Having handled the larger phones, I can understand why many like them, but it isn’t for me. Even the 4″ iPhone 5 while overall I do like it, there have been some times the extra physical height has been an issue (but viewing video the aspect ratio is nice) I can’t wait for wearable devices that can pair up with different screens (or who knows, glasses/retina drawing lasers…)

    • Walter Milliken

      Apple could easily make a 5″ screen — if they wanted to go to a sub-Retina display pixel density and keep their existing 640-pixel-wide display software model. The other good option would be an “iPad micro” screen, using the 1024×768 iPad resolution at a higher pixel density than the iPad Mini uses. Either of those would require a pixel density different than what Apple now buys, leading to production startup issues and loss of some scaling efficiencies in buying displays.

      The other option would be to introduce a new screen resolution. My bet would be on a 1080-wide display. Unfortunately, the current crop of 1080 phone displays used by other vendors mostly appear to be Pentile designs, though apparently the HTC One has a true RGB LCD. However, the pixel densities are very high, which is likely to raise yield issues — Apple might not be able to get enough produced for the probable demand. (This was reported to be one reason they turned down OLED in the early days of the iPhone.)

      Samsung’s AMOLED displays have a lower subpixel density in one dimension than Apple’s current Retina iPhone display (due to using Pentile), so they may have better yields. But OLEDs have other issues Apple may not want to deal with, and which fall into some of the problems Cook mentioned (e.g. color fidelity). They are apparently getting better, according to DisplayMate’s evaluations, though.

      • Defendor

        I think the best bet would be to introduce a new screen resolution and keep DPI constant at 326. That way many elements stay the same size and you get more on screen, and it is consistent with current iPhone DPI and likely Retina iPad mini DPI. Sure there would be some hiccups during transition, but in a year it would forgotten. Better to do it right the first time and pay the price of a small hiccup than have it be lame forever with low DPI.

        326 dip at 5″ ( if that size chosen for big iPhone) would be 1422 x 800

        Apple with 4″ iphone, 5″ iphone, 8″ iPad, 10″ iPad, all Retina, would have a complete size portfolio.

    • Ernest

      “Really this is a straight cost-benefit analysis.”

      I think you are hitting the nail on the head.

      Does anybody really expect Tim Cook to come out and say:

      Oh, we would love to offer today an iPhone with more screen form factors; a bigger iPhone, as well as a smaller, cheaper one. But we can not do that, not yet, not with our current cost structure. You’ve seen what happened with the iPad mini. Even though our sales went up, our margins went down. And what was the reward for giving users what they were asking for? The stock price went down, from $700 all the way to $400. If we we were to release the two new iPhones today our margins would go down even more. And we risk seeing the stock go down even further. Even if it doesn’t, we are not willing to take that risk. We’d rather wait a bit longer to have lover component costs and keep our margins within our target.

  • Ernest

    Whenever there is a tough question there are two explanations: one that sounds good and the real one. Of course, we got the one that sounds good, sort of.

    The real one is more likely that Apple was caught unprepared. Customers accepted quite readily the bigger screen form factor, just like they did the smaller screen size for the iPad.

    Here’s what might be the real explanation:

    It is very likely that when Apple designed iOS they did not foresee several form factors. Finding an acceptable/workable solution and redesigning iOS to support several form factors is a far more difficult problem that the “explanation”/excuse given by Tim Cook.

    If Samsung can manufacture and sell different screen sizes, so can Apple. But there is iOS and the huge number of applications to deal with and finding a solution to that takes time.

    There is one other consideration. If Apple released an iPhone that had a bigger screen but did not address the usability of existing apps on it, well, can you imagine the outrage? The possible negative impact on revenue? The additional negative press? The further negative impact on stock price?

    The iPhone with a bigger screen will come, as son as an acceptable solution is found and developed, or development is finished for iOS to support multiple screen sizes. I don’t see that happening before the end of 2014.

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

      “It is very likely that when Apple designed iOS they did not foresee several form factors.”

      Nope. Springs and struts and relative sized drawing on all views has always been the standard pushed by Apple in writing iOS code. Auto-layout is new with iOS 6.0 but it is also mostly new even in OS X. Everything from UIScreens, UIWindows and UIScreens had frames and bounds the program had to live within. Yes, you could blow these things off.

      • Ernest

        Well, Tim Cook’s explanation does not hold water with me. Same as the stubborn stance about the need for a one finger usability on iPhones and previously also stubborn stance regarding a smaller sized iPad. Now it’s “the white balance, the reflectivity, battery life” These are just excuses. So what happens with the one finger use when the bigger iPhone is released? Will it suddenly be acceptable for Apple to use two?

      • Brian_M_CDN

        it isn’t one reason, it is several reasons, when enough good reasons outweigh the potential negatives (having to use 2 hands) they will ship it – as they have said. The 8″ iPad mini was initially rejected for size reasons, but 2 years later they did reason one.

      • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

        But it is very obvious iOS has always had screen scaling built in. Some apps I have, I only neede a screen capture to move from the old iPhone layout to the new taller layout. A couple apps I used the added space for unique data.

      • Ernest

        Ok, but I bet you never had a iPhone app just run on an iPad and still look good, have you?

      • Walt French

        So, don’t let it bother you that you think anybody can design, engineer and produce products that balance all the parameters that Cook enumerated. You might have different priorities.

        Certainly, Samsung’s latest Galaxy line have much better screens than what they used to produce. DisplayMate thinks they’re damn good, approx same quality with different strengths as the iPhones’ and iPads’ screens.

        But that doesn’t mean that Apple, or anybody else, can automagically produce 50 million of ‘em. You’ve seen the desperate difficulties that HTC has fallen into and perhaps you’re aware that the display industry has become extremely concentrated, with Samsung exercising monopoly power. Even they can’t meet the huge numbers that Apple products would require.

    • Walt French

      It’d be no trouble to scale the existing iPhone4S (retina) to a 5″ format. Ditto, the 5′s. Everything would be 43% bigger in each dimension, but the programmer, who works in pixels, would still see 640X960.

      But no trouble for the programmer doesn’t mean no issue for the user. Unless one is really hyperopic or presbyopic, there’s little benefit in just making each element more than twice as large. Unless the app just displays text (i.e., unless you have no reason to actually write an app), the developer will have to reconsider the size & placement of controls, how much to jam on the screen to make it best in usability and appearance, etc.

      That’s Apple’s problem only if it results in apps seeming less well-suited on iOS — that is, it’s a BIG problem for Apple. This is a defining characteristic of the company.

      Technically, buying a different screen size is easy, so I imagine eventually Apple will offer sensible screens that go 3″, 4″, 5″, 8″, 11″, 13″ and 15″. But it’ll take much more work by developers to make them look good and work well. The industry is not there yet.

      • Ernest

        Exactly! That is my point. It’s not just about simply scaling apps to a bigger form factor. You can not just scale iPhone apps for the iPad and expect them to still look good.

        You have to redesign them for the bigger form factor. That is significant work. Going from 3.5 to 4in was easy. The price to pay was that you got many apps with a black space under them. It does not look very good but it is acceptable.

        You can not make existing apps designed for a 3.5in screen look good on a 5in screen. If they just released a 5in iPhone and apps would be just scaled up to fill the screen, everything would look terrible. Then the users would complain, the device would not sell too well and you would have just created a bigger problem.

        Then there is the other view that the real problem is not really the screen size; but rather one of distribution and pricing and margins that can not be sustained without the typical US subsidies.

        This is, however, an even bigger problem. And so it is easier to give an explanation that sounds good by invoking some technology constraints.

        The solution might be within the delay that will bring lower component prices and also allow time to further evolve iOS towards better support for apps running on a variety of screen sizes.

      • Ernest

        Another thing – I’d rather hear what John Ive has to say about this, even though he would be constrained to stick with the party line. I find technical people are often a lot more credible than their corporate bosses. In my experience you seldom get the real answer from higher management. Not in public anyway.

      • Walt French

        Sir Jonathon isn’t constrained to speak the party line; his pronouncements ARE the party line.

      • obarthelemy

        Lord ?

      • http://twitter.com/DMaterialist Jonathan Mackenzie

        Knight

      • Fairhead

        No Siri!

      • http://sharonsharalike.com/ Sharon Sharalike

        I’m not sure but I believe the third umpire’s name may have been Schrödinger.

      • Walt French

        “ Exactly! That is my point. … Apple was caught unprepared…when Apple designed iOS they did not foresee several form factors.”

        Your original claim is about the OPPOSITE of my point. Further, it’s pretty clearly false:OSX, the predecessor from which iOS was derived, has had sophisticated tools for dealing with multiple resolutions for a long time. And iOS was easily adapted to different sizes; it now runs on devices with 6 different size/rez combinations.

        “… the real problem is not really the screen size; but rather one of distribution and pricing and margins…”

        In my part of the world, these are not problems but aspects of reality. Apple has always adapted its products to what could be afforded by its target market. (Or is that redundundant?)

        Apple absolutely *IS* leaving desirable parts of the market — such as the 5″ phablet — to others. But by doing it, they are also protecting the quality and cohesiveness of their product line. I won’t claim that it’s necessarily the smartest thing to do, but I’m quite confident that that’s the reason why they’re managing their product portfolio the way that they are, and claims about being caught flatfooted over the most basic engineering are quite unsupportable.

      • Ernest

        Well, it may be basic engineering but you still need to take into account the impact of the different form factors in many areas: from the device design, to the way applications use the screen, to the cost of components and the setup of manufacturing lines to produce iPhones with different screen sizes.

        When they so strongly deny the need for a smaller iPad or a bigger iPhone and bring supporting arguments like we’ve seen, well, I can sense that there are currently reasons other than those given publicly.

      • obarthelemy

        The industry is there, it just got there w/o Apple: Android UI’s use of 3 buttons (home, back, menu) instead of Apple’s one, and built-in support for various screen sizes and DPI, makes those mostly a non-issue.

      • Fairhead

        IPhone, iPad got there without (not w/o) Apple? No!

      • Walt French

        I’m struggling to think of a single authority who thinks the Android “fragment manager” (an ironic, self-deprecating name to play on the fragmentation of Android) has resulted in good-looking, well-designed apps that work across the approximately 25 different screen sizes and resolutions.

        The bare-bones functionality is certainly there. But so far it seems to have resulted in a cacophony of designs, not a chorus of well-tuned apps. Big part of the reason that Android tablets get little customer satisfaction or word-of-mouth recommendations.

      • obarthelemy

        Satisfaction ratings for both ecosystems’ apps are the Same

      • Kizedek

        We discussed this at length a couple of articles back. Several commenters here had lengthy discourse with you about the nature of Apple’s support for various screen sizes. That basic support IS there. Again, ultimately, the issue is not about scaling to various sizes, it is about designing the best UI specifically and natively for a certain dimension, form factor or orientation (portrait vs landscape), giving different views or functions and emphasizing different elements for each. This is what makes iPhone apps so much more compelling (as proved by usage times and the variety of things that iOS users use their devices). So, the industry is *not there*.

        Again, the single button on the iPhone functions quite well as a back button when you double-click it. Three buttons on Android is not such a bad idea — IF they always functioned consistently; but I understand that the results are not always predictable and can be influenced by the way the developer designs his app (If you insist on responding, please comment on this specifically).

        I can only conclude that you have some kind of selective amnesia: with almost every (snide) comment you make, as soon as your head is filled up once again with Samsung or Android talking points, it’s like you forget almost every comment here, ever shred of common sense, the simplest explanations, the plain facts presented to you…

    • Sander van der Wal

      iOS already has two different screen sizes, the iPhone one and the iPad one. And a couple of objects which are iPad-only. And resource files for defining the screen for different layouts, which can be used by a single class.

      Most, if not everything, at the programmer level is there to support a wider variety of screen sizes. With reasonable demands on the programmer.

    • Mark Jones

      “It is very likely that when Apple designed iOS they did not foresee several form factors.” Highly doubtful as the iPad was being developed prior to and concurrent with the iPhone, which you say in your next post.

      “The real one is more likely that Apple was caught unprepared.” Possibly in the sense that Apple didn’t follow through to a product because it believes consumers want smaller devices, not bigger. Apple’s Mac, iPod, and now iPad history shows that movement from bigger and thicker to smaller and thinner within the product line. The first bigger phones were bigger because they had to be, in order to fit both the power-hogging cellular chips and the larger battery.

      The iPod (classic), iPod mini/nano, iPod shuffle had distinctly different use cases (and jobs to do). Same for the iPad and iPhone/iPod touch. Would a 5″ phone have a different use case than a 4″ phone? Most people I’ve talked to who bought a larger phone thought they wanted either to better see (where bigger pixels helps them to see better), or to see more info on the screen at once (less swiping/tapping). A few thought it would be easier to type (which would imply different jobs to do). Would any of these have made a compelling case for Apple to make a second device?

      • obarthelemy

        Reciprocally, is there any good reason for Apple not to do a blown-up iPhone ? Macs exist in 21″ and 27″, with pretty much the same innards and “jobs to do”. So do iPads now. I find Cook’s iPod comparison misguided: iPhones are much closer to computers than to music players. I’d argue smartphones *are* mainly computers now.

      • Fairhead

        is there any good reason for Apple not to do a blown-up iPhone -Answer Yes!

      • Walt French

        There are lots of products that seem feasible that Apple chooses not to produce. So no, it’d seem pretty easy to stick the audio/radio circuitry into an iPad body and have a 10″ iPhone.

        I can see lots of scenarios where it’d make lots of sense: a small shop-owner could have a first-class POS device for his business that’d also be a general-purpose computer AND take calls, just fine with a bluetooth headset.

        I don’t think you’ll see Apple offer that. Ever. The party line will be that if you want a great phone, get an iPhone and if you want a fast, versatile tablet, get an iPad. Nobody at Apple will have to defend all the little irritations of having to carry the monster phone, or of the lack of multiple SIMs and a zillion other features that developing-nation phone users have to put up with.

        On the larger size, and your countryman (amirite?) Jean-Louis Gassée’s wishes for a more MacOSX-like iOS: it took lots of work to strip out many OSX features and still have a right-sized iOS with the particular tools that mobile needs. Meanwhile, MacOSX continues to work fine, and ever-smaller MacBooks embody it. You can, — he should — just use a “desktop class” OS for larger-screen, multi-window functions.

        I’ll keep using my laptop, which suits my needs just fine. I don’t need to have iOS on it—I have a phone that runs iOS just fine.

        Apple will leave some money on the table, and others will produce niche products to serve those submarkets. No crime in that.

  • LTMP

    I think that the iPod comparison has some merit, at least in regards to the Shuffle.

    The shuffle is a very different device (from other iPods) in that you can’t see your music.

    The click wheel largely defined the iPod. If you asked the average user what they liked about the iPod they would say things like “I can navigate my library with ease”, “it has tons of storage”, and “it’s got a beautiful, solid design”.

    None of those things are true of the shuffle. Yet it was one of Apple’s biggest successes.

    Perhaps the iPhone Nano will be similar. Small and screen-less, the device would be audio only for both input and output, with a couple of buttons for key functions.

    Apps will exist in the cloud, as well most of the functionality. It will be inexpensive, small and somewhat limited in functionality due to the interface.

    Call it the iPhone Siri.

    I’m not saying that Apple will do this, but I think the shuffle shows that Apple might not be looking at the “other” iPhone as a smaller, cheaper sibling to the original.

    I expect it will be a very different type of device, specifically designed to fill a niche which currently is vacant.

  • Les_S

    Currently iPhones seem to be getting used in a way that’s different then many Android devices. If a great many Android devices are used as feature phones maybe Apple could address that need in an unexpected way. Maybe the wearable device might be the answer to that need. Personally, using an iPad has changed how I use my iPhone. I don’t use my iPhone today the way I used it in 2009.

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

      I have always thought there are two different Android markets.

      There is a market that is very much like the iPhone market. The devices are pretty nice, they are reasonably nimble, are attached to a decent data plan and cost roughly the same as an iPhone. These are used in much the same way as an iPhone but it is about 1/2 the market share of the iPhone.

      There is a second market that is nothing like the iPhone or the above market. It is populated by devices with small screens (web usage data shows the most popular sized Android screen is 320X240 pixels while Google shows this is a small number accessing the Play Store), they are very cheap, are made of low overall quality and have no (or minimal) data plan. Oddly, this represents about 2-3X the market share of the iPhone.

      IDC and Gartner simply call all Android phones the same. I don’t think they are.

      BTW: Have you looked at the web usage stats on 1080p mobile devices? I find this interesting in that it shows they are not moving off the shelf at a massive clip.

      • Les_S

        So there may be a market worth taping that’s of greater significance than the phablet market. The only question is how can Apple address it. It’s entirely possible that the cheaper iPhones (plastic back etc) help address a wider market (allowing entry into China mobile) but the more disruptive move could be addressing the non or low data consumption market with something else (iWatch) entirely.

      • Glaurung-Quena

        The “Smart In Name Only” market is huge, yes, but is it really a growing market, or have the people buying SINO phones been buying them not by choice but by necessity (ie, buying the phone they can afford rather than the one they want)?

        Apple has always been a forward-looking company. If their vision of the future is that someday all phones will be true smartphones, and their vision of the desires of SINO phone owners is that they bought the phone they could afford rather than the one they wanted, then entering the SINO market with an iFeature phone is the last thing they’re going to want to do.

        OTOH, if SINO phones are being sold mostly to older people who don’t use smart features because all they want is to make phone calls, then that pool of customers is almost certainly a shrinking market. And Apple doesn’t go for shrinking markets either.

      • obarthelemy

        That duality is vanishing. In my country, $200 off-contract, and $0 subsidized, buys a perfectly serviceable Android 4.x phone (1GB RAM, 8GB+SD, 8 megapixels of middling quality, 4-4.5″ 960×540, dual-core, GPS, BT…). Costs have fallen so fast and the market has expanded so quickly that devices at a price level where only severely hampered devices existed 2 yrs ago are now delivering the full smartphone experience in a pleasant way.
        The main cost is the data contract, $21/mo for unlimited everything in my case.

      • Fairhead

        perfectly serviceable? Costs have fallen so fast? unlimited everything?… All merde

      • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

        But I still question if those cost changes are driving changes in user patterns. The devices are getting better but people are still not using them as true “smartphones”.

      • obarthelemy

        agreed. pebkac… though we’re going to need a neo neologism

  • Bill Esbenshade

    Great comments as always Horace! When I hear Tim Cook talk, the thing that always comes through is that Apple’s values/priorities haven’t changed. The number one priority is creating great products that meet a specific need (i.e., job-to-be-done). They don’t do things just because other companies do them.

    I wish they had asked whether a low-end iPhone for unsubsidized markets might meet a specific need for a different type of customer — i.e., someone who can’t otherwise enjoy the benefits of Apple’s ecosystem.

  • KirkBurgess

    “The mini proved that people want something lighter, thinner, smaller.”

    TC left out one important factor of the iPod Mini description: cheaper.

    Cheaper, in my opinion, was the most crucial difference between the full size iPod and the iPod mini (the ipod nano was the true differentiator by size, weight and durability).

    I think the iPhone portfolio will reflect this, even if a new cheaper iPhone doesn’t see massive sales in highly subsidised markets, a lower RRP iPhone will likely make up the majority of emerging market iphone sales (as I’m sure the iPad mini does for iPad sales).

    • Alan

      The iPod Mini was more expensive than the normal iPod…that’s why so many people predicted it would fail. It didn’t because people wanted something lighter, thinner, and smaller and were willing to pay for it.

      • Mark Jones

        To be accurate, iPod mini was cheaper overall ($249), but more expensive per GB stored (4GB for $249 vs 15GB for $299).

        So Kirk is correct about cheaper; the mini made an iPod available at a lower price point.

      • JohnDoey

        But it was not thought to be cheaper. It was not reviewed as cheaper. iPod mini was widely criticized as much too expensive.

        Consider if BMW sells a car for $30,000 and then introduces their first motorcycle for $25,000. Yes, the price point is lower, but it is a motorcycle, not a car. The motorcycle will be criticized as being much too expensive. That is how it was with the mini. It was seen as an expensive iPod mini, not a cheap iPod classic. The people who bought iPod mini bought it because they wanted motorcycles, not because of the lower price point.

        Same with iPad mini. Criticized as expensive for a motorcycle, not lauded as a cheaper car.

      • Mark Jones

        Agree that the tech press thought it was more expensive, and the value-buyers thought so, but most people didn’t see it that way. They (i.e., most people I know) saw the $249 and the possibility of getting an iPod at a lower price. They didn’t care that it didn’t have 15GB; 4GB was enough.

      • Herding_sheep

        On what planet? No it wasn’t. The iPod mini was I believe $50 cheaper than the classic when it launched. I believe it launched for $249, the Classic was still selling for 300+ at the time.

      • JohnDoey

        But iPod mini had much smaller storage, and storage at the time was the only differentiator with iPods. So the classic was $299 at 10GB or $399 at 20GB and along came iPod mini with something like 2GB for $249. The price per GB was higher than classic. The #1 industry analyst complaint with iPod mini was “too little storage for too much money.” It was absolutely not seen as a cheap iPod. Consumers bought it for its dramatically reduced volume in spite if its dramatically reduced storage, they did not buy it for its slightly reduced entry-level price.

      • KirkBurgess

        Incorrect. The iPod mini was introduced at $249, at a time when the normal iPod retailed for $299 and up.

      • KirkBurgess

        Incorrect. The iPod mini was introduced at $249, while the full size iPod was priced at $299 and up.

    • JohnDoey

      No, iPod mini was smaller, but not really cheaper than iPod classic. You got 25% of the storage for 80% of the price. And iPad mini is not really cheaper than full-size iPad. Compare iPad mini at $329 to iPad 2 at $399. You get the same number of pixels, same SoC and storage, same battery life. You shave 17.5% off the price but lose more than 17.5% of the screen area. The main differentiator in both cases is the significantly reduced volume of the mini products compared to the original. The main criticism of the mini products was that they are only a little bit cheaper than the originals (less than 20% off in both cases.) The volumes were reduced by a much larger number. iPad mini is a wafer compared to iPad and can be comfortably held in one hand. The price difference is negligible. Nobody passed on a $399 iPad 2 as too expensive and then thought a $329 iPad mini was cheap. Especially when refurbished iPad 2 was available from Apple for $349. The size is the key difference. Notice the iPad mini actually has what appears to be even higher-end construction than the original iPad. It was built to be small, not cheap.

      • KirkBurgess

        Disagree completely. Cheaper is cheaper, no matter how much you try to qualify the opposite with descriptions of VALUE.

        Much like people also buy the iPhone 4 instead of the iPhone 4S, which is an even more obvious example considering the 4 holds absolutely no form factor advantage over the 4S – proving that some consumers obviously do choose a 20% cheaper price for a product with lesser features (less storage, less power, worse camera, no Siri, no turn by turn/flyover maps).

        Its rather obvious in my opinion that a lot of people bought both the iPod mini & also today buy the iPad mini because its simply the cheapest entry level model.

  • obarthelemy

    If, for the sake of argument, we take Cook’s iPod comparison literally, it means that the next iPhone will not simply be a cheaper variant, but sport a significantly different form factor (way smaller) and capabilities (way simpler). That would be interesting for sure. Whether iPod new Nano- or old Nano-sized, Apps would have to be redone, human interface too. I’m struggling to imagine a way to make that work: is Siri that good ? Would a Palm-like handwriting recognition system be pleasant ? can enough apps be accommodated to make the gizmo desirable ? The Web wouldn’t be accessible that way. I remember very elongated LG phones a while back (Chocolate ?), iPod Mini shaped, but bigger.

    • Fairhead

      Stop talking “very elongated (Chocolate ?), iPod Mini shaped, but bigger” = merde

    • http://www.noisetech-software.com/Home.html Steven Noyes

      And that explains the lack of a portfolio of the iPhone I think.

      There really is a different design mindset to Apple VS Samsung. With Apple, Apple makes tons of decisions on size, weight, screen, battery and leave a few options for the consumer to make like color (Black or White) and memory (16-64GB) and cost (4, 4S, 5). Choice is substantially curtailed but differentiation is very simple with Apple. The stress level on the decision is greatly reduced.

      Samsung, on the other hand, simply makes lots and lots of options and sees what people pick. Users get to choose battery, battery type/size, RAM, Flash size, screen size, screen resolution, processor cores, processor type, OS type, weight, size, you name it. Samsung will make a phone with every option you might want making “maximizers” drawn to Samsung. Often, differentiation is very difficult to see and for many consumers, the stress level is higher on the decision.

      For Apple to make a cheaper iPhone light, they have to offer some very solid differentiation on the product since it is Apple’s strong differentiation among products that drives crazy high consumer satisfaction (my theory anyway). I don’t know how Apple would do this but what I would do:

      iPhone 3GS updated in the following way:
      * Add the Apple A4 (or perhaps A5 if costs permit) and iPhone 4 power management.
      * Keep the same display.
      * Up the memory to 512MB (the lower rez screen is much more memory conservative.
      * Use the iPhone 4 camera.
      * Price it at $300 unlocked.
      * 8GB Flash.
      * call it the “Fat iPhone”. JK on this one. Does not ring like the Fat Mac.

      Update the AppStore/distribution to push only the image resources needed for the specific device. Apple are you listening on this one? Why do Apps targeted to an iPhone with retina need to distribute the image resources for a non retina iPad? Let us developers ship you a 80MB app and then you distribute a 20MB app depending on device. This will optimize bandwidth and Flash usage.

    • JohnDoey

      But the Web is already not accessible on many phones and all but useless on many that do have it. Maybe there are iPhone nano (iPod nano with voice calls) users who won’t miss the Web any more than iPad users miss the Unix terminal? Or maybe an iPhone nano reads a summary of a Web page to you? Maybe that actually works better for many users than wading through the endless dreck of today’s Web in a browser? Maybe you ask for a route and hear turn by turn directions only with no visual map and maybe that works better for many users?

      Apple has often given us fewer features than what we thought was the minimum and it turned out to be just what some users wanted, and later turned out to be more in some unexpected way. iPhone lacked a mechanical keyboard that was thought to be essential for a smartphone, and iPad lacked Mac OS which was thought to be essential for a PC. Turned out less was more.

  • Fairhead

    Great analysis!

  • Jorge

    Great analysis. Here is where Apple is different from Samsung and specially Google a company that don’t care about failed products and tens of suspended services. Google only success business is search and ads. Everything else don’t count for income. It will be interesting to see how Google will manage when the mayor source of income will be threaten by anti monopolistic rulings and competition.

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  • Aleksandar Vacić

    Horace, don’t you think it possible that iPad and iPhone are part of the same portfolio of products. I believe in those they have two very different product lines but both working on the same platform and doing similar jobs from different angles. I don’t see why would iPhone and iPad be considered platforms on their own.

    • Kizedek

      Mac Minis, iMacs, Mac Books (Air and Pro) and Power Macs all run on OS X. They are therefore all “working on the same platform and doing similar jobs from different angles”.

      Yet, Mac Books and iMacs come in at least two different physical form factors or sizes. Mac Minis, while the same physical form factor, come in a regular model with HD and media drive, or as a server with two HDs. All of the above have a number of configuration options, just as the iPhone does between black and white colors and storage capacity.

      As I see it, the Mac Mini, the Power Mac and the iPhone are the three Apple product lines that have only one physical form factor.

      In a sense, the iPhone and the iPad actually differ from each other in “platform” more than the five Mac product lines. This is because the iPad and the iPhone complement each other and you use each differently. You would not use any of the Macs that differently from another. I have both an iPad and an iPhone, and I use them in a complementary fashion, often taking both with me. I don’t have two Macs.

    • JohnDoey

      It is all just semantics and marketing. If iPad shipped first, then iPad mini, then iPhone, then iPhone might be called “iPad nano.” If iPhone was called “iPod phone” and iPad was called “iPod PC” then we would talk about the 12 year long continued growth of the iPod family instead of talking about iPods shrinking year over year. The iPad with cellular is the same product line as the iPad with Wi-Fi only, but iPhones without cellular are in a separate iPod product line.

      I think analysts look for technical reason in the naming, but the naming is not technically-driven. The naming reflects use cases and marketing. An iPod is used to put 1,000 songs (or videos, or games) in your pocket, it is not “a device that runs iPod OS” because one of them runs iOS. An iPhone is a communicator, an iPad is a personal computer — they both use iOS because they are both designed for a world with pervasive wireless networking, but that is secondary to one being primarily a communicator and one being primarily a PC.

  • Jeff G

    Apple wants to capture as much of the high end of the market as it reasonably can (as long as the “high-end” range is broad enough to include mass appeal). And at the same time, they capture as much of the total industry profits available, which they tend to expand by their product creation and presence.

    Then, when the market demands it, or an innovation can apparently (to Apple) fulfill an unmet need, Apple forrays into areas that are “somewhat less than high-end” (for lack of a better phrase).

    They think different. Simple. Genious.

  • JohnDoey

    The analog to look at for a full portfolio of iPhones may not be the iPod — it may be Apple’s PC line, the Mac+iPad. For many years, analysts complained about the lack of a low-end Mac, and yet no cardboard MacBook appeared. To create a low-end PC, Apple designed a whole new PC specifically for the low-end market in iPad. Now you can run Keynote and iMovie and Safari and iTunes on a $329 iPad mini.

    That is why I think the evolution of iPod nano into a touchscreen device with wireless and Lightning is so interesting. It runs iPod OS, not iOS, and runs its own apps, not App Store apps and API’s. Compare Mac to iPad and then compare iPhone to iPod nano and there is a similar stepping down of price and complexity and size while retaining the soul of the product. Add 3G and a voice-only FaceTime and a bespoke Angry Birds to iPod nano and you might have the best phone for a very large number of people, and the best second phone for iPhone users. Same as you see people with iPad as their main PC and others who have Mac+iPad.

    Did they really add touch to iPod OS just for the music player market that was quite happy with the click wheel? I feel like iPod nano has been gradually turning into a phone right before our eyes.

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