In product marketing differentiation is key. It’s important for a product to be different in some major way from the competition. It might be design, color, feature list, functionality, quality of materials, price, or cost of ownership.
Look at whatever products you’ve purchased and you’ll see how they differ from their competitors. Differentiation is key. That axiom of product marketing is one reason why smartphone users can choose giant phones. Thank you, Apple. It’s their fault.
Bigger Is Better
Apple’s first few generations of iPhone had 3.5-inch screens. What is one easy way for a competitor to create a highly differentiated smartphone? A larger screen.
It didn’t take long for other smartphone manufacturers to figure out an easy way to one up Apple. First there were 4-inch screens, then 4.5-inch screens (and variations), and now 5-inch screens.
Some of these smartphone screens are so large that they’re often referred to as phablets. Phone and tablet mixed together in some kind of Frankendroid design.
Non-Apple smart phone manufacturers really had no choice. They couldn’t make their screens smaller. 3.5-inch screens are about perfect in size; easily navigated with a thumb and controlled by a single finger touch.
For whatever the reason, Apple stuck with the 3.5-inch iPhone screen until the iPhone 5, which has a 4-inch screen, and another row of app icons.
Meanwhile, Samsung and other Android cohorts seem hell bent on create ever larger phones. Did Apple buckle to competition by introducing a 4-inch iPhone? Or, is bigger better?
Just between you and me, after having seen a dozen giant smartphone screens around town, I think Apple will introduce a larger iPhone to sit between the iPhone 5 (or whatever the next version will be) and the iPad mini with the 7.9-inch screen.
Why? Apple is not impervious to the draw of eye candy. Whether larger screened smart phones cell in attractive numbers remains to be seen. It’s not as though Samsung and friends divulge the numbers of what they sell.
What cracks me up about the giant screen smartphone phablets is that they’re advertised and displayed with a stylus. A stylus. What’s wrong with the finger? After all, it works just fine on the smaller 3.5-inch iPhone screen, so it seems logical that a finger would work better on a larger screen.
Again, we’re back to differentiation. It is unlikely that Apple will ever approve a stylus (leaving that accessory to help bolster third party manufacturers), so competing smartphone builders gain another key point of differentiation.
Does Apple need to build a, say, 5-inch smartphone? Probably not. But, phablet fever being what it is, it couldn’t hurt. Analyst Shaw Wu says Apple is leaving money on the table by not building a larger iPhone.
Maybe. But let me ask a question. How many larger smartphones– 5-inches and above– are being sold? Only Apple gives out sales numbers. Anywhere from 65 to 75-percent of the smartphones sold by AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon recently are iPhones, all with 4-inch screens or smaller. That doesn’t say that larger screens are really all the rage, now does it?
When Apple finally ships a near-5-inch iPhone it will tell us that the company is willing to flex from principles and not leave the competition with too much room to differentiate. After all, perception is reality, right?