Given the gravity of the event, you’d have expected at least a handful of Apple execs to fly over to Beijing, prepare an exciting presentation and generally make the country feel as important as it really is to the brand. But no – instead all that was offered was a painfully half-assed video recording of what had gone on at the launch of the new iPhones in California, followed by a hands-on play period where attendees got a better look at the new devices.
So right off the bat, it’s almost like Apple was flipping the bird at the world’s fastest-growing mobile technology market despite the fact that the firm’s future rests on cracking the Far East.
Sadly however that wasn’t where the disappointment ended as the real kicker of the day was the iPhone 5C itself. Not that it isn’t a handsome or capable device, but this was supposed to be the first truly affordable iPhone 5C designed with developing markets in mind.
So with a purchase price of $735, it’s pretty clear that Apple has its own unique definition of ‘affordable’.
To put it into context, this means that the plastic iPhone 5C that’s been built from the ground up with affordability in mind is only $132 cheaper than the iPhone 5S, which will cost $867 unlocked. And even more bizarrely, the 32GB version of the plastic iPhone 5C costs the same as the 16GB iPhone 5S – has somebody gone stark-raving mad behind the scenes?
No matter which way look at it, both the iPhone 5C and the 5S will hit the Chinese market right at the very top of the top-end Smartphone stakes. Or in other words, nothing has changed at all. Analyst had expected Apple to dole out a $350 iPhone for the lower-reaches of the market or perhaps a mid-range iPhone for no more than $500, which would have been pushing it.
As it turns out, they were way off in both estimates.
It’s early days in the story of the iPhone 5C admittedly, but already the outlook is extremely bleak. The launch of any less-expensive iPhone immediately takes away from the prestige of the iPhone’s badge as a whole, which used to be a status symbol in its own right but is fast heading for cliché territory. Now, all this would have been understandable if the iPhone 5C went on to sell tens of millions of units across developing markets, but with a near-$800 price tag there isn’t a chance in hell that it will.
Instead, Apple could have simply alienated millions of floating voters that will now head over to the Android camp while at the same time lowering the street-cred value of the iPhone name – a double whammy of damage for the price of one.
Comments are starting to pour in from the consumer masses and word on the streets from all sides of the world appear to be in agreement – Apple has well and truly misfired with the iPhone 5C and the backlash won’t be a timid one.