This event has still stirred up the media though the genius Steve Jobs no longer (in his simple shirt and jeans) stands on the stage.
Surprisingly, the shiny 5S was not under the headline of the media storm. The main character of iPhone 5 blockbuster was iPhone 5C in colourful plastic case. Does it implies the sign of cheap price?
“Because you guys have used expensive iPhone, you then will feel unsatisfied with 5C, but I just jumped up when hearing this news”
“OMG, now I can buy iPhone.”
“Great, Tim Cook. Thanks for thinking about “poor” consumers.”
Those are some of millions of comments on Facebook right after the launching of iPhone 5C.
In the U.S, the price of iPhone 5C version 8G (coupled with service subscription commitment) is $99, only a half of $199 of 5S. It maybe called cheap price “positioning” for the plastic case iPhone 5C.
Lots of people may be very happy at the news. In contrast, iPhone current loyal lovers (the majority) will feel so self-pity. The proud of “Think Different” is hurt. iPhone symbolises the luxury, high-end image (for the high income and businessman) or and it is associated with the chic, cool images (the young).
The area of luxury iPhone that only has two typical colours black and white now suddenly appears a colourful “peasant”. Can we not feel self-pity?
The first time Apple did a strange thing: introduce 02 new iPhone versions at the same time. Think different? This time may be not. Differentiation must make people say “wow” because of surprise and admiration. This time it also earned “wow” but only from a part of “audience” (not target audience). The rest, those who are in the heart of Apple’s “Think Different” positioning, also said “wow” but a depressing “wow”.
Steve Jobs would surely not like this. Beautiful, beautiful and beautiful. That is the perfection to which this creative genius was living for. For a man who requires even the board wire inside the iMac to be beautiful, those colourful cases would not be approved by him.
In the short run, cheap iPhone 5C will benefit from iPhone’s premium image. There will be more people using iPhone in China, India or Vietnam. What’s about the long run? Can Tim Cook imagine how the premium image of iPhone (and even Apple) will devalue? Let’s see how Laura Ries, the branding specialist, said on her personal Facebook: “Poor Steve Jobs if he could see what’s happening to Apple. iPhone 5C should have been a separate name from iPhone.”
Some words for those who are overjoyed about iPhone 5C.
If just due to “cheap price”, you would save a lot as buying Nokia or Samsung instead of 5C. iPhone 5C is both expensive (in comparison to medium category) and may own a “cheap image” under the shape of luxury Iphone series before. You “burst into tears” because of happiness. Later on, you will may “burst into tears” because of disappointment. The illusion of “cheap price for a premium brand” will break up: Apple is no longer an upper brand. I dare to make such a anticipation. If not, I am so happy to learn an interesting branding lesson.
For Apple’s lovers, they are always highly loyal to the brand. A differentiated, creative and “beautiful” brand image is the “special trick” of iPhone established by Steve since the launch of “Think Different” campaign in 1997.
When alive, Jobs coldly said that “There are some customers which we chose not to serve”. Great, Jobs! You are true with the rule “focus to differentiate”.
Steve Jobs has passed away, Apple’s points of difference seems to be imitated and challenged by competitors (esp. Samsung) more than ever. While failing to find out an effective solution, Apple itself is neutralising its “vantage point” by introducing the cheap iPhone 5C product.
Brand Strategy Director – Richard Moore Associates