iPhone SE: great for buyers, even better for Apple

Today, Apple announced the long awaited new iPhone SE. I won’t get into the details — the manufacturer’s website does a fantastic job at that — but I wanted to share Carolina Milanesi’s take on Tech.pinions:

[The iPhone SE is] a product that serves the purpose of getting the most pragmatic users to upgrade after holding on to their phones for years. These users might be coming from a hand-me-down or a secondhand iPhone or even be Android users looking for their first iPhone. […] For Apple, upgrades are not only driving hardware sales nowadays, but they also assure that as many users as possible can take advantage of Apple’s new services, such as Apple TV+, which comes free for a year with the new iPhone SE.

Exactly. I believe the iPhone SE is here to convince a large group of people to buy their first iPhone, or their relatives to buy it for them. If Apple’s website clearly has teenagers in minds, I noticed quite a lot of people on Twitter saying this is the iPhone for a parent or their partner: usually a person that is seemingly not into tech enough to spend $700 for a new phone like the iPhone 11, and won’t mind the outdated design or the lack of a ultra-wide angle lens.

What this means for Apple is the possibility to sell services and accessories to a group of people who would never have bought an iPhone before. AirPods, Apple Watches, silicon and leather cases, apps, Apple Pay, Apple Music, Apple News, Apple Arcade, Apple TV+, Apple Care, the list is indeed very long. The iPhone SE extends Apple accessories and services market by reaching a new population. For Apple, the iPhone SE could eventually mean a remarkable services and wearables growth: “SE” for “services” or “secure the customer base”?

For the buyers, the iPhone SE means all the goodies about the Apple ecosystem: Apple Messages, FaceTime, better-than-competition privacy, great security, excellent already-included apps such as Notes, Reminders, iCloud Drive, even the fully featured Garage Band or iMovie, and on top of it all, the App Store. Along with a great if not the best software experience out there, people also get a good and reliable camera, and the usual iPhone overall delightful experience: for first-time Apple buyers, this is a very important point.

Apple uses the A13 chip on the iPhone SE, the same as the expensive iPhone 11 Pro, which should allow the device to stay up to date with the latest iOS release for years to come, maybe up to five years, which is far from common in the Android world, even for flagship devices or premium brands.

If iPhone SE buyers don’t break the phone, Apple would have successfully removed a huge chunk of the sub-$500 market from the claws of its competitors, and will probably keep it for itself for years, especially if these buyers end up as Apple Watch or AirPods owners too.

Selling great and long-lasting devices is a good way to have loyal customers, customers that will eventually love your products and your brand.

Selling exclusive services, desirable iPhone-only accessories like the AirPods is an even better way — the Apple way — preventing the customers to even consider the competition. Like Ben Bajarin said on Twitter:

It is fascinating how Apple keeps enticing its competition into battlegrounds where they can not compete.

The iPhone SE is using the same recipe as the “regular” annual new iPhone, but this time aiming for a segment of the market where you usually find last years’ iPhone models only in the hands of users. For them, the SE is a great upgrade. For Apple, it is a way to build a new, more loyal, customer base.