Digital PR thoughts: Is the iPhone X asking too much?

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This week Apple presented its long-awaited update to the world’s most popular smartphone series, a model which will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone- hence the name, X. Plenty has changed since the innocence of 2007, not least the universal agreement that touchscreen are a good thing.
“That is the most expensive phone in the world, and it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard,” said Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer when the first iPhone was unveiled. Clearly the guy didn’t really understand what he was talking about, which explains plenty about his terrible record in the mobile market. Nevertheless, the issue of cost hasn’t gone away, and with the iPhone X- due to be official released in November- this subject is particularly contentious.
The phone itself certainly looks good. A larger screen, with a better display and extra-durable glass casing are all plus points. Similarly, wireless charging is a good idea, as it means you may never have to worry about the lining of your pocket clogging the Lightning jack, and the True Depth camera sounds cool, too. Albeit the latter didn’t fare very well at the media event in which the product was introduced to press, when it failed to unlock the test device using facial recognition, which is supposed to be one of the big leaps forward with this iPhone.
The new chips on the inside are the most powerful ever to be used in a phone, which is clearly another big talking point and one that should make for a noticeable improvement at the user end. However, all this comes at a rather staggering price point- with the largest model of them all, 256GB, costing £1,129. To put that into context, you can pick up a brand new MacBook laptop for just £20 more.
All of which leaves this digital PR firm asking one question- is the iPhone X asking too much from customers, and their loyalty?
On the one hand, the product fits in with Apple’s overall brand positioning- a luxury tech firm, making aspirational products. But then how exclusive is Apple in 2017 really? You don’t get to be the world’s most visible and recognised tech brand without shifting stupid quantities of units, and once you’re doing that it’s difficult to truly be counted as ‘exclusive’.
For many users, either paying flat-out for a phone that costs more than the majority of non-Apple laptops on the market could well be unfeasible. More so, signing up to a contract that will require you to potentially pay off the £1,129 device cost in two years or under is going to be off-putting, as it will be a pretty serious monthly outgoing. And this comes at a time when the majority of people are already having their budgets squeezed by flatlined wages and increasing costs of living here in the UK, while there has never been more choice, or better value, offered by the biggest rival, Android, and its associated products.
Fundamentally, Apple is relying on its customer loyalty to win the day here, but this in itself could well be called into question- Marketing Week recently ran a fascinating article about the difference between real customer loyalty, and the pull of ‘ecosystem brands‘, whereby it’s just easier to buy into services and products from the same company, rather than this being a purchasing decision based on genuine preference for those services. Whatever the truth in this instance, it’s certainly food for thought.

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