Apple has just released its latest smartphone, the iPhone SE, and for me, that’s one of the most important things that has happened this year in the tech world.
There are a couple of very important conclusions that I can draw from the release of a 4-inch phone.
Bigger is not (necessarily) better
Apple always builds its products based on market research. According to Wired, the company said at the keynote that despite all the new and cool devices, eight percent of all phones sold last year (30 million of them) were 4-inch ones. That seems to indicate that when it comes to a smartphone, the thumb is still the most important finger, and people love phones they can completely operate with their just that finger.
People will buy whatever you offer them
Still, that’s just eight percent of their market. The majority of Apple users still go for the latest and greatest, even though they might find it less convenient to use. Even Wired’s Liz Stinson said it took a year to get used to the iPhone 6’s size. Isn’t this kinda strange? Instead of buying a device that fits you nicely, you’d rather buy one that doesn’t, then take a year changing your habits just so your “ergonomic workarounds don’t feel like workarounds any more”?
Is this a push to resurrect the tablet?
But what’s really got me thinking is whether this move could mean Apple is trying to breathe more life into the tablet market, guerilla style? It’s no secret that the tablet has failed to find its place in the average consumer’s life. Sales are dropping hard, new devices are offering very little that is new and exciting, while the old ones are being used less and less, mostly because bigger smartphones are taking over.
So what if we combine the two conclusions above: bigger is not necessarily better, and people will buy whatever is new on offer? We get a smaller smartphone, one that people will actually find more natural to use.
That leaves just enough market room to squeeze in a tablet. You won’t be watching your favorite shows on a 4-inch display, that’s for sure. But on a new tablet, especially a new Apple tablet, you just might. Enter, 9.7-inch iPad Pro, together with a smart keyboard and the Apple Pencil.
I’m not saying people will stop buying bigger smartphones, that’s probably not what’s going to happen. There are still dozens of extremely powerful and popular devices, both iOS and Android, with large screens.
But the number of those who will rediscover that a smaller phone might actually suit them better, and a tablet might actually be more useful in certain situations, will probably grow.
Now we just have to wait for a few months and see how it goes. I’m pretty confident Apple will kill it with sales again. And that’s coming from a devoted Android user.