iPhone SE: Does Apple need a “cheap” smartphone?

Everything indicates that in just over a month Apple will present the third generation of the iPhone SE, the cheapest alternative offered by those from Cupertino to access the ecosystem of the company’s smartphones. A device that, with its fans and its detractors, has undoubtedly managed to become one of the most iconic (and therefore aspirational) references on the market of which it was the forerunner and in which today it competes against rivals that are undoubtedly just as virtuous.

From the moment of its launch, the iPhone was an expensive phone. More or less depending on its configuration, of course, but it has never been a smartphone available to everyone. Both the iPhone SE and keeping a specific version of the previous generation in the catalog are the ways offered by Apple to get a somewhat cheaper iPhone, but even with this option, those from Cupertino still remain far from 200-250 euros , which is a psychological barrier for many users.

In April it will be two years since the launch of the second generation iPhone SE, so this second generation will have, if what we expect is confirmed, a life cycle of two years. And this is very striking, because its predecessor, the first generation iPhone SE, had twice the lifespan, remaining present from its launch, in 2016, until the arrival of the second generation. Is Apple stepping on the gas with the entry-level iPhone?

Of course that’s the impression it gives. Two years is still twice what we see with the “normal” iPhone, but it seems that this second generation of the iPhone SE must have performed better, in terms of popularity and sales, than the first >. And this makes a lot of sense, since even without all the elements of its older brother, it does substantially lower the barrier to entry, because let’s remember that the cheapest option in the iPhone 13 family is the Mini variant with 128 gigabytes, which It costs 809 euros, compared to the 489 that we will have to pay for a 64-gigabyte iPhone SE (539 euros for the 128-gigabyte variant).

Apple’s economic results are good, it is enough to take a look at the historical evolution of the price of its shares to be clear that, with ups and downs, the company is still on the crest of the wave:

Source: Google

On first reading this is obviously very positive. However, any company that has settled into growth doesn’t do very well when it slows down. However, waiting for new product lines (from virtual reality viewers to cars), and with one of its great sources of income, the App Store, threatened by the North American justice system and regulators from several countries, in Cupertino they must be thinking a lot about what to do. And the iPhone SE looks like an answer.

The iPhone’s growth options in the top-of-the-range segment are limited, as it already enjoys a privileged position, and the situation is not too different in the high-end tablet markets high and smartwatches. And as for its computers, the jump from Intel to Apple Silicon has taken away compatibility with Windows, which is so exploited both with Apple’s Boot Camp and with virtualization tools such as Parallels.

Renewing the iPhone SE more frequently seems like a smart step, therefore, to grow in user share, since its 500 euros means that it can rival in price with many mid-range and medium-high of close prices, playing its main asset: being an iPhone. Now, although on many occasions we refer to the iPhone SE as the cheap iPhone, I already said it at the beginning, it is not a cheap smartphone, but “cheap”.

With this change in the life cycle of the iPhone SE, Apple clearly tells us that it intends for the iPhone to stop being something so exclusive, that it wants to get closer to users who would like to make the leap to the ecosystem of Apple but who do not consider investing 800 or 900 euros in a smartphone. Would it make sense to go one step further in this direction?

At the moment it seems very unlikely, but if we look at the medium term, Could Apple keep two generations of the iPhone SE on sale simultaneously? After all, they already do something similar with the Apple Watch, of which we can currently find Series 7, SE models in the store and, as a cheaper option, Series 3, which allows you to enter the ecosystem of Apple smart watches for only 219 euros, compared to 299 of the Watch SE and the 429 of the Series 7.

An iPhone SE that would break the 400 euro barrier downwards would, in all likelihood, be a bestseller. It is true, yes, that the iPhone brand would lose the aura of exclusivity that has always accompanied it, but given how consolidated its brand image is already, I doubt that this would affect its sales at the top of the table (of prices ). And yet, it would attract many more users who, in this way, would already set foot in the enormous Apple ecosystem.

And this may seem like a minor detail, but it is not, it is not at all. Not many will remember it, but the iPod boom brought many users into contact with Apple. And something that Apple knows how to do very well is to attract you once you have made contact. Consequently, there were many users who, after the iPod, made the leap to Mac, or iPhone, and ended up installed in the Apple ecosystem. A “cheap” iPhone SE could be the tool to replicate the iPod’s success, not only selling more smartphones than ever before, but also attracting a host of potential new users to its devices and services.