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The Cheap iPhone That Wasn’t

Apple still won’t compete for price-conscious consumers. That’s an increasingly risky strategy.

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Apple employees walk towards the Apple Headquarters to attend Apple co-founder Steve Jobs' memorial service in Cupertino, California, on October 19, 2011.

The new iPhone 5C is definitely colorful. But is it a good deal?

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

For the last six years, Apple has had a simple, increasingly risky plan for selling the iPhone. Every year, the company makes only one new model, a phone that represents Apple’s platonic ideal—the one phone it thinks everybody ought to have. Apple usually sells the new phone for around $650, and wireless carriers sell it to customers for $199 with a two-year plan. To hedge its bets against low-priced competitors, Apple also keeps selling its previous models, reducing the price of each by $100. Last year, when Apple unveiled the iPhone 5, it kept selling 2011’s iPhone 4S for $550 ($99 with a contract), and the 2010 iPhone 4 sold for $450 (free with a contract).

The advantage of this strategy is clear. Unlike its competitors, which make dozens of phones every year, Apple can focus its design and manufacturing energies on a single new model, and it can push customers to purchase its highest-end, highest-margin device. But the downside is clear, too. The iPhone is Apple’s biggest business, accounting for two-thirds of its profits. By releasing only one new phone every year, Apple keeps putting more and more of its eggs in a single basket. What if that basket has a buggy antenna? What if it doesn’t seem like much of an upgrade? What if its screen isn’t big enough for some customers? What if it’s just too expensive?

This year was supposed to be different. For months now, analysts have speculated that Apple would finally do what many observers (including yours truly) have long called on it to do—to diversify its iPhone lineup. The logic seemed obvious. Samsung, Apple’s fiercest rival, has been cleaning up in developing markets like India and China by offering models that cater to every market niche, from the low end to the high end. By making a new phone that sold for around $300 to $400 without a carrier subsidy—which is how many people in developing markets buy phones—Apple would be able to compete for price-conscious phone buyers, creating a whole new class of iPhone users who currently can’t afford Apple’s shiny baubles.

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But today, Apple whiffed. At the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif., CEO Tim Cook did unveil two new iPhones rather than just one. But neither of these phones is the cheap iPhone that people had been predicting. Indeed, Apple didn’t really change its pricing strategy in any meaningful way. Across the globe, it will still be charging the same for its phones as it always has. It’s not a stretch to say that instead of a good price, Apple is now offering budget-conscious consumers around the world a strange deal: OK, the iPhone isn’t any cheaper than it used to be. But hey, look, it comes in lots of colors! Colors! Even pink! How will you be paying?

The new top-of-the-line model—called the iPhone 5S—looks the same as today’s iPhone 5, but it’s got a faster processor, a better camera, and a fingerprint scanner that lets you unlock your phone much quicker than with a password. (I tried it out at Apple’s demo area and found it very easy to set up and speedy to use.) The 5S—which comes in black, white, and gold—will sell for $650, or $199 with a contract, the same as last year’s iPhone 5.

Then there’s the iPhone 5C—the long-rumored cheap iPhone that isn’t. It’s made of plastic instead of the aluminum found on the bigger iPhone. It comes in five colors: green, blue, yellow, pink, and white. Other than that, it’s got the same internals as the iPhone 5: same camera, same processor, same capabilities. And same price. Indeed, the 5C is so similar to the 5 that Apple is discontinuing that model. The 5C will sell for $550, or $99 with a contract. This isn’t a cheap phone. And if the 5C is cheaper for Apple to produce than the 5 would have been—which seems plausible given its plastic body—it might even be a way for Apple to boost its profit margins rather than scale them back.

This is a bold move. In the tech business, it’s rare—and perhaps even unprecedented—for a product to keep its prices steady year after year after year. By holding the line against lower-priced phones, Apple will be able to keep its profit margins high—and at Apple, profits are sacrosanct, considered more important than sales and market share. But refusing to give an inch on prices is also extremely risky. The next big phase of growth in the smartphone market is going to occur in places around the world where people don’t have a lot of money. What’s more, the utility of a $200 phone is quickly approaching that of a $550 phone. If you live in India and you’ve got only $300 or $400 to spend on a phone, the only iPhone you might be able to afford is the iPhone 4S—a 3-year-old device with a tiny screen. Or you can choose Google’s Nexus 4, which sells for $200, and is pretty fantastic in every way. In other words, at that price, you’d be a fool to get an iPhone.

But if the 5C is not any cheaper than the 5 would have been, why did Apple go to all the trouble to make it? Why depart from the just-sell-last-year’s-model plan if the new device is pretty much the same as last year’s, only dressed up in a colorful new shell? I suspect it’s because Apple believes the colors will prove an important selling point. Yes, really.

Two years ago, I argued that one of Apple’s underappreciated skills is the way it cunningly plays with the colors of its devices in order to make old things look new. “Apple makes us covet certain colors today, while also making us scoff at the colors it convinced us to covet yesterday,” I wrote. “Every few years, it cycles through a new palette for its gadgets—it goes from white to black to multicolor to silver and back again. As it shifts, the whole gadget world moves along, too.” I ended that piece with a prediction. Because it would become increasingly difficult for Apple to change the design of the iPhone—you can’t do much with a slab of rectangular glass—the only element left to play with was the color. “A new color, for Apple, can represent as much of a reason to upgrade as a new processor,” I wrote, predicting that we’d soon see the iPhone come in a variety of colors.

And that’s what’s happening now. The iPhone 5C doesn’t do anything different from the iPhone 5. But because it looks different—because it comes in colors—Apple believes it can sell it as something new, something worthier of your attention than last year’s model. In India and China, Apple devices are often considered to be “Veblen goods,” meaning that they are attractive precisely because they are more expensive than rivals. Part of their appeal is the fact that you can’t afford them. The 5C’s colors make that exclusivity part of the sales plan: Here’s the new iPhone. Sure, it’s just out of your price range. But it’s colorful. Everyone will notice it. Surely you can save up for blue.

 

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International Movie Trailer Festival (IMTF)

International Movie Trailer Festival (IMTF)–in partnership with TiVo and HandlePod Image Stabilization–has just launched a movie trailer competition:   “Lights! Cameraphone! Action!”

The challenge: Use a Smartphone or a tablet to create a trailer previewing a movie still in the dream stage. Editing may be done using a computer. All genres are accepted including trailers for dramas, comedies, documentaries and web series. Entries may run up to two minutes.

How do we keep the Smartphone from shaking?   The combination of Smartphone/HandlePod gives the cinematographer the ultimate in portability without sacrificing image quality.  Image quality with the HandlePod is the same as that of a tripod, without all the weight and bulk.

It also mounts virtually anywhere: Helmets, hang-gliders, skateboards, lamp posts, railings, the rear view mirror of your car… Check out the demo

SPECIAL LIMITED OFFER:  HandlePod is making available 10 free units to the first qualifying artists for this project.  We only ask anyone who accepts a HandlePod to provide us with behind-the-scenes clips and/or photos that we can use for promotional purposes, and of course, a copy of the trailer.  Contact steve@bayintegratedmarketing.com for details, and mention IMTF to receive free domestic shipping.

The Smartphone technology has sparked a communications revolution. One important example is that filmmakers are adopting this technology for making short and full-length movies. We believe that using the Cameraphone will lead to exciting innovations in movie storytelling and production. The contest seeks to promote experimentation and originality among indie moviemakers. Encouraging the use of innovative devices such as the Handlepod is one of IMTF’s key goals.

The contest has a grand prize of $3,000 plus in-kind support for making the movie represented by the trailer. The “best of the fest” trailers will be shown online and in movie theaters.

The deadline is December 31, 2012. The rules plus an online entry form and video tips may be found at…
http://www.internationalmovietrailerfestival.com/cameraphone-contest/
….where there’s also a promotional video shot using a Smartphone.

About IMTF: Since 2010, the company’s competitions have drawn entries from 40 countries. Prize money has totaled $20,000. Top winners have conferred with noted producer Scott Rosenfelt (Mystic Pizza, Home Alone, etc.) You can see recent winners at http://www.internationalmovietrailerfestival.com/trailers-2011/

For more information, email: info@imtf.biz

 

 

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Sorry, Samsung, iPhone Is Not Your Mother’s Smartphone

Dan Rowinski 

Sorry, Samsung, iPhone Is Not Your Mother's Smartphone

The iPhone owes its ongoing success partly to Apple’s success at making it one of the coolest devices a consumer could buy. But perception is shifting, and now the iPhone is coming to be seen as “your Mom’s smartphone.” At least, that’s what Samsung wants you to believe.

The culmination of the crusty-iPhone meme is Samsung’s recent television ad, the latest move in the company’s year-long campaign to damage the hipster-hyped image of the iPhone. The scene takes place in a line on a sidewalk outside what could be an Apple store. The denizens of the line recognize a guy how had switched to a Samsung Galaxy device in a previous commercial. “Hey, you’re back,” they say. He isn’t. Turns out he’s just saving a spot for his exceedingly un-hip parents

Samsung’s commercials are smart and funny, and they jab at both Apple’s design and manufacturing choices as well the community that embraces the iPhone, who are presented as iSheep.

The reason that older people choose the iPhone is that it is considered the easiest smartphone to use. It is familiar, iconic and laden with social status. It’s easy to figure out and, as long as everything works properly, there is not a lot of heading scratching. People ask me all the time what smartphone they should buy. My family gives their friends my phone number and they call me asking what they should get. This is one of the reasons I wrote How To Buy A Smartphone: so I could just point people to one resource that represents my point of view.

I do direct different types of people to look into different devices. To mobile app developer types, I often recommend the latest Android Nexus device. I point many tech-savvy, but not developer focused, people toward an HTC/Samsung/Motorola Android device. To non-tech savvy folks that want it to be as easy to figure out as possible, I recommend the iPhone.

My mother has an iPhone. You might remember my mother if you are a frequent ReadWriteMobile reader. She reviewed the Nexus 7 tablet and thought it was OK, but wanted to hold out for the iPad Mini. When her friend Patty called me wondering what smartphone to buy, it was a no-brainer to send her to the iPhone because of the ease of use. Patty is in no way tech-savvy, but she recognizes an app when she sees it.

But that’s just anecdotal. Is there data that verifies the iPhone’s appeal to fusty oldsters?

Behavioral Demographics

Surprisingly, there is little hard demographic data available to the public on iPhone/iPad buyers. Research firm Gartner (which tracks worldwide smartphone shipments by vendor) does not know who is buying these devices. Apple and the mobile carriers like AT&T and Verizon are certainly not giving out demographic information. The best sources are advertisers and marketers. Essentially, any company that specializes in behavioral and demographic targeting.

In that vein, the best targeting information comes from companies like comScore that focus on surveys and tracking on behalf of advertisers and publishers. In comScore’s latest data (from Aug. 2012), 47.2% of iPhone users are aged 35 years or older. So those under 35 years old actually make up the majority of iPhone users. For tablets, the iPad skews a little older with 55% of users 35 years old or older. See the charts below.

Note that the more money families make, the more likely they are to buy expensive consumer electronics, so it would make sense that iPhone/iPad usage tends to skew older. At the same time, the largest single demographic for both iPhone and iPad usage is in the 25-34 year old range, as younger adults tend to have more disposable income and desire for the latest products.

Does Android skew towards a younger demographic? The numbers might surprise you. According to comScore, 52.4% of all Android users are aged 35 years or older. That is five percentage points higher than the iPhone. Near 55% Android tablets users are also older than 35.

So, according to comScore, Android is your mother’s smartphone. The perception apparently does not match up to the reality that Samsung – and many tech pundits, myself included – would have you believe.

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The International Movie Trailer Festival (IMTF) Has Launched a Movie Trailer Competition: With a Twist…

          Connecting Indie Moviemakers
with Their Fans

.

 

Lights! Cameraphone! Action!”

The challenge: Use a Smartphone or a tablet to create a trailer previewing a movie still in the dream stage. Editing may be done using a computer. All genres are accepted including trailers for dramas, comedies, documentaries and web series. Entries may run up to two minutes.

How do we keep the Smartphone from shaking? The combination of Smartphone/HandlePod gives the movie maker the ultimate in portability without sacrificing image quality. Image quality with the HandlePod is the same as that of a tripod, without all the weight and bulk.

It also mounts virtually anywhere:

Helmets, hang-gliders, skateboards, lamp posts, railings, the rear view mirror of your car…

Check out the demo

SPECIAL LIMITED OFFER: HandlePod is making available 10 free units to the first qualifying artists for this project. We only ask anyone who accepts a HandlePod to provide us with behind-the-scenes clips and/or photos that we can use for promotional purposes, and of course, a copy of the trailer.
Contact steve@bayintegratedmarketing.com for details.

The Smartphone technology has sparked a communications revolution. One important example is that filmmakers are adopting this technology for making short and full-length movies. We believe that using the Cameraphone will lead to exciting innovations in movie storytelling and production. The contest seeks to promote experimentation and originality among indie moviemakers. Encouraging the use of innovative devices such as the Handlepod is one of IMTF’s key goals.

The contest has a grand prize of $3,000 plus in-kind support for making the movie represented by the trailer. The “best of the fest” trailers will be shown online and in movie theaters.

The deadline is December 31, 2012. The rules plus an online entry form and video tips may be found at…
http://www.internationalmovietrailerfestival.com/cameraphone-contest/
….where there’s also a promotional video shot using a Smartphone.

About IMTF: Since 2010, the company’s competitions have drawn entries from 40 countries. Prize money has totaled $20,000. Top winners have conferred with noted producer Scott Rosenfelt (Mystic Pizza, Home Alone, etc.) You can see recent winners at http://www.internationalmovietrailerfestival.com/trailers-2011/

For more information, email info@imtf.biz

 

 

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Turbo-charge Your Event

Orchestrating large events is a cumbersome task that requires a number of skills. Often, individuals will attend large events with little thought to the work that was required in putting the event together. In the same way that a professional athlete performs complicated skills with little perceived difficulty from the viewer, event planners plan events that hide the work. Event planning requires logistical prowess, professional communication as well as stress and priority management. Planners can become overwhelmed with the importance of the event they are planning. Similar to a climber who makes the possibly fatal mistake of looking down, event planners must learn to focus on the individual components of the event and not it’s degree of importance. Events such as wedding and corporate meetings hold a great deal of importance to their respective parties and must be handled with care to ensure satisfaction. Fortunately there exist a number of tools for event planners to help them perform at a high level.

Events Management Software

Events management software is a fairly new form of software that provides a variety of tools for event planners to utilize in order to carry out their duties more proficiently. This type of software allows planners to keep track of logistical needs as well as scheduling and contact information. Depending upon the software developer, the software can also include more advanced features such as email composition tools and Web integration. A device which has provided additional solutions for event planners is the Smartphone.

Smartphones: Must Have for Event Planners

Smartphone’s are invaluable for event planners that must communicate professionally with other individuals while on the fly. These types of phones allow for contact management, scheduling as well as email composition all while operating remotely. Additionally, smartphones offer applications which can improve logistics and scheduling. These same applications offer integration with existing planning software and/or Web pages. This type of flexibility can prove invaluable given the mobile nature of the event planning process.

Event Planners Build Strong Networks

An underrated component of event planning is networking and the development of close working relationships. Frequently, event planners will work within the same group of vendors and services. It is vital that event planners strive to obtain excellent relationships with these groups as they are the backbone to their services. By generating good personal relationships, event planners garner several benefits that can prove invaluable in case of an emergency. Often times they will be quoted reduced prices if they promise repeat business. Additionally they can often get last minute projects completed provided they have a good rapport with the vendor.

While technology offers a variety of tools that work to help event planners perform their duties these tools are not a replacement for hard work and the development of good personal relationships. When planning any event, there will be incidents that can negatively impact the overall product. A good planner will recognize these issues and search out viable solutions that do not detract from the event.

+Nancy Goebel has her own blog, ForgottenCulture.com and frequently writes about living and entertainment. She is intrigued by technology that makes living and entertaining easier and more professional, in this case, events management software.

 

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