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Opinion: There are signs Apple is starting to target mid-market consumers too
If there's one certainty in life where Apple is concerned, it's that it targets the premium end of the market. Apple would tell you that it aims to make the best products, and that these cost money to make. A more cynical observer might say that Apple aims to make the highest margins and makes the products (and adds the marketing) it takes to achieve this. But either way, the company has always targeted those customers willing to pay the big bucks for premium products. That approach has meant that while Samsung sells almost twice as many smartphones as Apple, it's the Cupertino company that hoovers up almost 80% of the total profits in the industry. But there are signs that Apple may be broadening its horizons … In a way, Apple has long aimed to have a range of products to appeal to consumers at different price points. In Macs, for example, we had the Mac Pro versus the iMac for the desktop market, and within the iMac range we have the 27-inch 5K flagship and the 21.5-inch 4K option at the more affordable end. For laptops, there's the now very expensive MacBook Pro range at the top end while the MacBook Air still hangs in there at $999. In iPads, the iPad mini has always served a dual purpose: providing a more portable form-factor for those who found larger iPads too unwieldy, but also a more affordable entry point for those who wanted an iPad but whose budget didn't stretch to the more expensive ones. In iPhones, Apple typically kept its older models on sale as a somewhat cheaper entry point. But the company has more recently been more actively targeting mid-market smartphone buyers by specifically designing products for them. There was the failed iPhone 5c initially, and the iPhone SE today. The latter also emulated the iPad mini in targeting both budget-conscious consumers as well as those of us who prefer a more pocketable device. The iPhone SE has been a big success for Apple. It became the third best-selling smartphone in the U.S. and achieved even higher satisfaction ratings than later and more expensive models. It's almost certain we'll see a new model next year. And just this year Apple launched a low-cost 9.7-inch iPad costing just $329, less than half the cost of the cheapest iPad Pro model, and roughly a quarter of the cost of the most expensive one. The company's recent earnings reports strongly indicate that this has been a massive hit
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