Products arent always built to sell well

Since taking over responsibility for the Pinnacle Marketing blog I’ve not had a lot of time to write blogs here. But every now and again, a topic comes up that possibly isn’t suitable for the company blog – this is one of those topics. While looking through my Twitter feed I came across a link to this article about the iPhone 5s being the “world’s top smartphone.

Now I don’t want to argue about the figures, but this sentence got me thinking.

The iPhone 5c is unsurprisingly not doing that well for only being on the market since September. It’s sitting at the number five spot just ahead of the ancient iPhone 4s. It will be interesting to see what Apple chooses to do with the 5c come this fall given its relative lack of success and heavy marketing push.

After recalling the excellent behavioural economics course from Dan Ariely I attended on Coursera, I started wondering whether the point of the 5c wasnt to outsell the 5s, but was really there to make the 5s more desirable.

Now the 5c does provide good hardware and user experience at a more competitive price point than the 5c, but Apple have always tried to be a premium brand. What if rather than being a product designed purely to compete with the Samsung’s and HTC’s of this world, the 5c was there to provide a choice and comparison point?

And what if that comparison point was being positioned so that while it was fun and funky, it lacked the cool and credibility of being the top of the range phone that the latest generation iPhone has always been? Once you’ve decided you want an iPhone, how many customers would want to miss out on the credibility that buying the best infers (especially when you are tied to a phone for at least 2 years)?

I know I would struggle to miss out on ‘the best’ for the next 2 years, and I bet that’s why the 5s has sold so well. I don’t think this is unexpected by Apple, I think this was a lesson in marketing and positioning from Tim Cook – one that most of us will probably ignore.

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