First and foremost, I am willing to believe, that the news of the coloured iPhone 5S/6 this year is real – even before the recent spat of reports, a little bird from the Far East gave me the heads-up on the coloured iPhones. The same sweet chirpy told me about production trial runs of metallic micro-sim trays by Apple two weeks after the iPhone 3G went on sale in Singapore, so as far as I’m concerned coloured iPhones is a done deal.
It will seem the completely black iPhone 5 last year was simply a trial run, on how well colour-anodised aluminium iPhones will stick, and despite the initial “scuffgate” blowup, the black iPhone 5 is by far the preferred colour for most.
Going colours this year is simply a natural evolution – the original iPod started with nothing but white for the first few generations, before the iPod mini came along with colours and become the hottest selling iPod ever.
Apple as a company have always embraced products with differing colour schemes, the original multi-colour iMacs set off the whole colour-plastic PC trend of the early 2000s. especially from Compaq, and whenever volume of the product made sense for Apple to add colours as an option, they have always did, like with the iMacs, the initial iBooks, and to the certain extent the first MacBooks with the surprising inclusion of a black colour option. They are certainly not unfamiliar with colour-anodised aluminium products, with the many generations of iPod nanos serving as proof.
I have not heard much about the plastic iPhones though, probably because Foxconn will not be manufacturing them. Some rumours are stating that they will be utilising the old 3.5 inch retina display instead of the newer 4 inch ones, coupled with possibly iPhone 4S-level innards (Apple A5 and the such), essentially just an iPhone 4S without the glass and metal.
Personally I will like to see something different.
Instead of the old 3.5 inch displays, the new plastic iPhones should have the standard 4 inch displays of the current iPhone 5. This will make this year’s iPhone lineup into a all 4 inch affair, making the old resolution a thing of the past. With the cost savings from a plastic case and economics of scale from manufacturing the new 4 inch displays, the plastic iPhones should be cheap enough to manufacture as a viable replacement for the iPhone 4/4S.
All that is assuming that the iPhone lineup will remain a 3-model affair.
While Apple’s current strategy of simply having older iPhones remain in the lineup to act as lower cost alternatives to the flagship models probably a smart move on paper, having the same production lines running for years instead of making new products means the economics of scale add up to their benefits.
However, the cheapskate consumers are a fickle bunch. Most do not have a particular loyalty to any mobile OS, and will just buy whatever is in their budget and looks nice enough to them. This has always been Apple’s main problem with their “older models as lower cost models” strategy – the phones are “old” and “boring”.
Consumers will rather buy a newly introduced, cheapskate low end phone from Samsung or anyone else than to buy, for example, an brand new, but now “3-year-old” iPhone 4, simply because the Samsung is “new” and the iPhone 4 is “old” and 50% of the population are carrying one.
Most consumers are shallow, superficial, and are almost always, extremely fashion conscious, especially the ones who buy lower-end phones and do not have needs that require the higher computing cores of the flagship smartphones.
The only way to capture their hearts is to make a brand new line of lower cost, but way more fashionable, iPhones for them.
Apple knows this. They were, and still are, the kings of the portable media player market with the low cost but extremely fashionable iPod Nano.
They were always going to do this. I just hope the execution is good – they better don’t choose the wrong colours (the iPod Nano of certain years were released with questionable choices of colours which impacted their sales quite a bit, think iPod Nano Phat, for example).