A new iPhone has been entering our lives like clockwork right from 2007, and notwithstanding all the predictions of the doomsday pundits, has gone on to set sales records. The competition has huffed and puffed but so far Cupertino’s iPhone-y house shows no signs of being blown in. There are many reasons for this, of course, ranging from product quality to marketing skills, but aligned to these are some basics that Apple has doggedly stuck to over the years, notwithstanding advice to the contrary. On the surface, they seem to be nothing more than common sense, but the passage of years have shown them to be not so common among the competition. So even as we get ready to welcome – and perhaps criticise – yet another iPhone, here are eight slices of common sense that other manufacturers would do well to learn from Apple in the phone business:
Stick to a single product launch per year
Right from 2007, there has only been a single iPhone event every year. Yes, Apple has twice launched two phones at an event (the iPhone 5S and 5C in 2013 and the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus last year) but by and large the company has been sticking to a single launch a year. The benefit? Consumers who invest in an iPhone know that the company will not come out with something better in a few months (a la HTC, Sony and Samsung, that generally come out with flagship competing variants) – an iPhone pretty much remains the latest and greatest until a new one comes out a year later. This is a formula that the likes of OnePlus seem to be adopting too, allowing for greater focus and less internal product cannibalisation.
No drastic price cuts
Yes, we know that some e-commerce sites like Flipkart and Amazon are selling them at lower rates, but if you go to a retail store, the price of an iPhone pretty much remains constant right through a year. It gets a price reduction only when a new iPhone is released. Once again, the effect is of reassuring the cosumer that they will not feel ‘cheated’ for buying a device early – compare this with those who shelled out almost Rs 50,000 for the LG G4 barely three months ago and can now get the phone for almost Rs 10,000 lesser. Once again, there are signs of some players following this policy – OnePlus is again a prime example: it stuck to the price of the OnePlus One right through for almost a year.
Make your older products your affordable range
Contrary to what most people believe, Apple does have affordable iPhones – the older models. Apple generally cuts prices of older models heavily once they are about a year and half to two years old. Perhaps the most dramatic instance of this was of the iPhone 3GS, which was actually sold for Rs 9,999 for a short period of time in India. Currently, one can get the iPhone 4S for about Rs 15,000. Yes, some might call this fobbing off older products on the consumers but it beats releasing new products at lower prices than your flagship, which could dilute the “premium equity.” Samsung took a leaf out of Apple’s book recently when it made the Galaxy S3 available at a surprisingly low price – older flagships generally carry more weight with the consumer than devices that are marketed as ‘affordable’ from the word go.
Never forget older products
This is a corollary of the previous point. Apple’s older products remain relevant for a longer period than the competition’s, simply because the company keeps updating them to the latest version of software. For instance, the iPhone 4S, which is almost three years old, will get the iOS 9 update. No, it will not run it quite as smoothly as newer iPhones will but it does make the device feel more up to date than some better specced Androids of the same period stuck on Android 4.1. For many iPhone users, this is reassuring as it ensures that they will get regular software updates even if they do not upgrade to the latest device. Yes, it might prevent some from upgrading to a new iPhone right away but on the flip side, it assures anyone buying a new or even slightly older iPhone that his or her product is unlikely to be obsolete for a while.
Roll out updates to supported products smoothly
It is one thing to promise timely updates to products. It is quite another to actually deliver them in a timely manner. We have seen flagships that are barely a year old still running Android KitKat but rare indeed is the iPhone that has not been upgraded to iOS 8, and frankly we expect most supported iPhones to get updated to iOS 9 by tomorrow (assuming the final build goes live tonight). Yes, there will be complaints about bugs and download sizes but at the end of the day, the update is actually available to millions of iPhone users at almost the same time, which is something that other manufacturers have struggled to do.
Never give the competition footage
We have seen our share of iPhone presentations and advertising campaigns and what has been striking is the fact that the company almost never takes on the competition by name. Yes, there will be the odd verbal jab from time to time but you are not going to see spec sheets and photographs of competing devices. An iPhone pretty much stands alone and iPhone events are about the iPhone only.
Never lose sight of the apps
The iPhone has had several spec upgrades with new sensors, cameras and display sizes coming on board. What is however significant, is that the company itself has pulled out all stops to ensure that its existing apps move smoothly to the new specifications. In some cases, even older versions of apps have been retained for devices that have not been updated to the latest OS. This has ensured that an iPhone user never has to face the “yes, the hardware is awesome but there are no apps to leverage it” issue that Android users are confronted with.
React to controversies…fast!
Be it antennagate with the iPhone 4 or bendgate with the iPhone 6 Plus or even the controversy over working conditions in Foxconn, Apple has always been very fast to respond. No, the response itself might not have been satisfactory (we still have not been able to digest the “you are not holding it right” response to the antennagate issue from Jobs) but you can be assured that Apple will react to any controversy pertaining to its products. And swiftly too. One hardly ever gets a feeling that the company is living in a zone of denial.