For many years now I have waxed poetic about the need for Apple to create a large screen phone. With the latest iteration of the iPhone, the “5” they decided to elongate the device but not make it wider. To me, this mistake is the worst that Apple has made since ignoring the market for seven-inch tablets and then playing catch-up with the iPad mini.
At first, when asked about larger screen phones, Apple said that they didn’t fit in the hand. Of course this was a shock to many people who not only were able to fit larger phones in their hands but to those of us who saw the ad for the iPad mini where the company showed it FITTING IN A HAND.
Now the story from Apple has changed – Apple’s Tim Cook said yesterday that large screen phones require trade-offs. Specifically he said:
My view continues to be that iPhone 5 has the absolute best display in the industry. And we always strive to create the very best display for our customers. And some customers value large screen size, others value also other factors such as resolution, color quality, white balance, brightness, reflectivity, screen longevity, power consumption, portability, compatibility with apps and many things.
Our competitors had made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display, we would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist.
Some of these points actually do make sense and I speculated as such last September but perhaps the most important aspect of a portable device like a smartphone is its battery life and no one gets a whole day of use from an iPhone 5 if they actually use it for much of the day.
In other words, Apple already made a major trade-off sacrificing a full day of battery life to keep the iPhone 5 thin and light.
And every day Apple Store employees get hammered with the question, “When will Apple come out with a larger screen phone.” How do I know? Because I ask them, and this is what they tell me.
The biggest weakness Apple has right now is a device which fits between the size of the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini. What smartphones does Samsung sell which are bigger than the four-inch iPhone 5? The list is extensive. The Galaxy S3 is 4.8 inches in size, the S5 is five inches in size. The Galaxy Note 2 is 5.5 inches. Want a tablet from Samsung, you can choose from the following sizes: 7”, 7.7”, 8.0”, 10.1” and 11.6”. Apple has merely two tablet sizes. Let’s stipulate for the moment that the iPad and Mini give enough options to consumers looking for a large and small tablet… Even so, we have to agree that Apple needs at least one wider smartphone.
I have consistently warned Apple of the multiple device threat starting on July 8th, 2010. I saw Apple’s Achilles’ heel as being its limited product line competing with myriad screen sizes from a plethora of competitors. I saw how the PC market overtook Apple in the eighties due to improvements in price/performance from a multiple vendors and I realized screen size was the equivalent differentiator in the mobile space.
Yet Apple has changed its story on the topic – first telling us that larger phones don’t fit in the hand (how do they look at themselves with a straight face?) and now that they have trade-offs. The trouble is, these product trade-offs are causing customers to walk across the Verizon store from the Apple section into Samsung’s arms.
I have tremendous respect for Apple but when millions of customers vote with their wallets and tell you they prefer a larger phone – even with trade-offs, you have to listen to them. Or am I wrong? Let me know.
For more – see the post which shows how hand sizes vary widely and making a statement that “our phone fists in the hand” doesn’t take into account how much hand sizes vary.