iPhone SE 2017 Another Example of Apple Doing Less and Less with More and More

2 minute read
| Editorial

In the midst of me-too products unveiled Tuesday, Apple kept iPhone SE available, but eliminated the embarrassing 16GB storage option on the device. The move falls squarely in the middle of conflicting rumors that Apple would either upgrade it or kill it.

iPhone SE 2017

Apple’s New iPhone SE 2017

iPhone SE 2017, Same as it Ever Was

iPhone SE remains the device that it was, but with double the storage for the same price. The entry level device remains $399, but now comes with 32GB of storage. The second tier is still $449, but comes with 128GB of storage. Processor and other innards are unchanged and remain the same as iPhone 6S.

Head Scratcher

I’ve been scratching my head about this all day. On the one hand, I am delighted Apple nixed the 16GB storage option on iPhone SE. It was useless when it was announced in March, 2016, and I’m glad to see its backside.

On the other hand, I grow ever more weary of Apple hanging on to old technology in its product line. If Apple continues to sell iPhone SE and introduces iPhone SE 2 (or whatever it might be called) at a media event in April, that’s one thing. I’ve long thought selling old models of iPhones at lower prices was an excellent way of addressing lower price points.

I fear, however, that Apple is following the lead of iPad and Macintosh and plans on peddling old technology at new prices with the iPhone SE. If Apple was about to release an updated iPhone SE 2, the company would have lowered the price when it made the storage change. What’s even more likely is that Apple would have kept the original storage options and lowered the price.

Less and Less with More and More

I realize we won’t know until and if an iPad media event comes and goes without a new iPhone SE. Let’s follow the evidence, though, and examine Apple’s track record for the last few years. The company has simply grown comfortable with peddling old technology at new prices.

Apple’s Mac product line has languished, and iPads aren’t faring any better. While I do expect new iPad Pro models in the next few weeks, Apple was clearly comfortable letting iPad Pro (12.9-inch) hit the 18 month-mark, just as it was comfortable letting iPad Air 2 get 18 months old before releasing iPad Pro (9.7-inch).

And now it appears Apple will let iPhone SE age in a similar manner, turning it into another example of Apple doing less and less with more and more.

Hopefully Apple will make me look the fool at a media event in the near future. But I’m not holding my breath.

11 Comments Add a comment

  1. mackintosh

    Agreed. Apple has lost its innovation lead and now trails others who have not only caught up but are puling ahead. As examples, from Microsoft we have seen Surface Book and Surface Studio – like them or not, thy are intriguing devices. From Apple, we get new MacBooks – with a touch bar (really?) and recycled iPads. The leaves are turning brown in Apple’s garden from lack of nourishment. There are other eco-systems now that are equally as good.

    Today’s announcements had such promise. With such long-in-the-tooth products, Apple wasted another opportunity to refresh them. I’m not holding my breath either. Would not have expected me say this, but my next “Mac and iPad” will likely run a different OS.

  2. Let’s not jump to conclusions. I think this was an appetizer. Something to get a bit of excitement going leading upon to the next event, (April?). The stuff announced today would have been a full keynote in other years. That they pushed these products off to a product announcement and web update says to me that bigger things are coming. There wasn’t room in the upcoming event for these small things. It makes me optimistic, for the first time in a long while, that Apple is going to wow us at the next event.

  3. MarcusNewton

    Nothing says comfortable with selling old hardware at new prices like a full-priced Mac Pro at 1,189 days old, and the Mac mini at 887 days old.

    These are the first some-what new hardware products Apple has released since the awful October “hello, again” event; that is nearly 5 months of nothing.

    Apple went from “putting a dent in the universe” to “dipping our toe in the water”. These updates today are definitely “dipping our toe in the water” updates.

    Clearly, I am still grumpy. I am going to be extra grumpy if Apple waits until June to release a spec-bumped iMac when they could have updated it in February. I am assuming at this point that the delay means Apple will be using AMD’s new Ryzen processors in some iMacs and hopefully a new Mac mini. If Apple puts in Intel’s Kaby Lake processors that all the other manufacturers have been shipping since January, then I am going to be upset.

  4. In short, Apple pretty much has lost its mojo. Such a shame. Nobody was a bigger fan of Apple than me, but I hardly even keep up with the news any more, much less obsess over the rumor mill. How I pine for the days when personal computing was fun, eagerly awaiting one more thing; or at least a rock solid, lustworthy upgrade.

  5. What a bunch of whining! LOL Seriously. I’ve been an Apple user since the days of the Apple II so I’ve seen many different faces of Apple. Regardless of whether they Wow! The masses, Apple is in a much better position today, than they’ve ever been. If you can’t see that, then your just blind. Sure, we don’t have that Steve Jobs bling factor anymore, but Apple is trying to build a foundation for whatever they have coming next. If you’re too impatient to wait to see what that is, then move on. Who cares? Sorry, but I don’t care how long you’ve been a customer, no company owes YOU anything except to support their products for a reasonable amount of time.

    I’ve had my iMac since 2009 and it still runs great – no plans to replace it. And I’m assuming the next macOS probably won’t support it, but I’m okay with that – it’ll be 8 years old.

    I replaced my original iPad with the 9.7″ iPad Pro after 6 years, but even now, I still use the original iPad (on a very limited basis).

    I have an iPhone SE (it replaced an iPhone 6) – and no, I never expected Apple to update it every year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they put it on a 2 to even 3 year upgrade cycle. Anyone who understands the market could clearly see that this device was to attract the holdouts – the people who didn’t want a larger phone, but they wanted something that wasn’t old. The SE, by all accounts and reviews, is still a very capable phone and will be for some time to come.

  6. Bryan:

    I applaud your courage and consistency, despite some flak, in raising this issue. You were cited on Chuck Joiner’s MacVoices #17083 the other day, which featured Kelly Guimont amongst others, discussing the Echo vs Google Home vs Siri, as I’m sure you’re aware.

    I feel your pain, and acknowledge that Apple’s apparent productivity has fallen behind expectations, at least amongst enthusiasts and those who follow the industry writ large.

    That said, as a lay if not novice cum dilettante industry observer, a status to which I readily concede, I am also aware that Apple remain consistent in moving to their own beat and proceeding at their own pace, without discombobulation from critics, including the user base.

    Not to be an apologist, but bring into perspective a sense of context for any verdict on Apple’s performance; how often have we seen companies throw everything at the wall, see what sticks, and then get cited for ‘brilliance’ and getting ahead of Apple (think larger phone screens)? How often have we seen a new technology, not quite mature but commercialisible if one can accept a non-uniform and suboptimal user experience, rolled out by a competitor and Apple to come in later with a fuller, more elaborate version of the same that not only provides a consistent user experience, but pushes the entire platform further (think Apple Pay and Touch ID)? Finally, how often have we seen Apple ignore an entire product line despite the industry tripping over itself to put these on the market, only to see Apple come out with what appears to be a different product, but one that addresses that niche (think netbooks vs the iPad)?

    I offer one simple, and perhaps wrong, unifying thought. Nonlinearity. What is that? The path that progress invariably follows.

    I have some sympathy for platform builders who, at some point, indeed multiple points in their venture if it is sustained, encounter an apparent plateauing effect in their rate of change or apparent development until the necessary technological development, infrastructure or solution to a roadblock is found or made available. I have encountered this personally in my own profession when building a competitive research platform. There are periods of apparent marked progress and growth, and periods of relative apparent quiescence in which most of the growth is in-house, beneath of the bonnet of detection, but essential nonetheless if one is to get to that next stage of proficiency and capability.

    When I look at Apple, I no longer see, nor have I seen in quite some time, a company that produces disparate products, like the Mac Pro, the Time Capsule, the MacBook Air, the iPhone, or any specific piece of software or service, but a company that is building a platform, each component of which must push that platform forward or else it’s dead wood insofar as resource expenditure is concerned, and a platform that is no stronger or more competitive than its weakest link. And while I don’t pretend to have any insights as to where that platform is going or should go, I am convinced of two things; that it is directional and that there are legacy components that are no longer essential to its integrity and strength, as there are offerings on the market that can be accommodated within that platform.

    All this is to say, simply, that my expectations have evolved, as I’ve watched this company evolve, from a product-centric to a platform-encompassing perspective, in anticipation of how the next product or service will fit and carry that platform forward. Nor can I escape the conviction that a product-centric expectation from this company will lead to disappointment, if not sense of betrayal and ultimately a sense of disaffection and apathy.

    As I said, that is my subjective and lay perspective.

  7. I love the SE, and VASTLY prefer it to iPhone7 and 7+
    The no sound-output is a no-buy for me, and i’m actually -really- happy Apple leaves us an option who needs that option.

    I almost always charge my phone at night ,-while- listening to music in bed.
    Have used wireless plugs that are -okay- (but not great) , that are pretty much half-dead by morning. When I want to use them…..

    I welcome the SE2 (or SE’17 if you prefer) with open arms, as do many others.
    The handy size is another big point to the SE. (also loved 5’s design, so another plus on top of that)

    It’s great when Apple innovates, (god I hated the old iphone plugs, Lightning was a fantastic upgrade) , but it’s not alarming, that other companies do it too.
    iPhones get upgrades every year, a big upgrade every other year.

    That recipe works, I don’t see the fuzz. They still make great phones

  8. Remember what that did for General Motors.

    Yeah remember what happened with General Motors. They lead market sales every year from 1931 to 2007. And since then has consistently cane in either at the top of a tear’s market share or in the top 3 since then. In 2012, the last year to have reliable statistics since it takes time to compile and analyze data, they were the world’s largest automobile makers. In 2016 it had new profits of about 9.5 billion dollars and total worth of at least 212 billion dollars. Enlighten those of us who don’t remember GM in the same reality you see.p to remember.

    As for the slow down in tech advances it’s really not slowing down much. Especially when it comes to my wallet. I would still have the iPhone 4 except it was stolen so had to get the iPhone 5s. Having a similar phone in dimensions and weight only with faster processing power is perfect. I don’t like the feeling of lugging a brick in my pocket. I’m not sure what you’re getting all bent out of shape over the storage memory. It’s odd that there aren’t middle choices but honestly I’ve gotten by on 16GB for the past 6 or 7 years with no problems. It cost 1 dollar a month to get 50GB of iCloud storage. Or if you want pay the extra hundred to get 128GB. It’s still less cost then any newer iPhones. This is just a bunch of pointless whining from people who think everyone else in the world is in their position. Meaning the they think the same, can’t think long term and need everything now when they want it like a 3 year old, and have the money to buy a new whole set of Apple products every year. I love the iPhone and iPad. I wish they did more of what I want them to do but that’s part of Apple’s sales pitch. It’s easy to use. I think their other products are incredibly overpriced just for a cooler look and an apple logo on it. And in case this never crossed your mind, Apple is the only company that has refused to cooperate with the US government to let them easily get into our phones and essentially spy on us breaking so many constitutional rights which other companies act like they care about but don’t do much to stop it.

    The last issue is the United States is just one country. Not even all that big of a population considering it’s size in square miles. Companies are now trying to tap into the China and India markets. Two emerging economies and each has well over a billion potential customers. But they can’t afford what you want. What the heck are you doing on your iPhone or iPad that you need it to be so powerful. They aren’t meant to replace computers. Even if it started out that way it was never realistic as a goal. Especially on a phone. Somehow the last 7 years has seen a reverse in trends and we get cell phones approaching the size of tablets to try and make them more than what they are. Primarily a communications device with a degree of entertainment functionality. But certainly nothing compared to a system with a dedicated GPU. And more area so near ventilation isn’t an issue.

    Bottom line is that Apple still leads the market share in both cell phones and tablets. It’s gone down not because of losing customers. But because of companies emerging who cater to customers who cannot afford Apple products. So if Apple is guilty of anything (and this sin extends to many of its customers) it’s being elitist. Thinking themselves above others. And that may have been true in 2007. But it’s 2017 and they don’t have a monopoly on these things. So it’s a poor strategy to release ever increasingly powerful products every year instead of improving on existing products and rebranding them as the new generation. It’s done in many areas of technology. A great example is NVIDIA’s GeForce series graphics cards. They alternate between releasing a truly new product then follow up with the same technology but improve its performance while reducing other things like noise and power consumption. They also don’t typically have a yearly cycle either. There just aren’t enough people in the market who can or if they can want to put down 700 dollars on several new components every year. So the returns on such a fast pace would be diminishing.

    Would you buy a new PlayStation every year or a new Xbox? That’s how the majority of the public views most forms of technology. You’re in the extreme in who can afford to buy what you want and think it’s necessary to come out with a completely killer product every year.

    I also think Apple wasted lots of their budget on the iWatch. A mediocre product that is too small to try and fit everything into it. Plus you need your phone on you to actually use it for things other than a watch. But that’s how the market works. You take gambles sometimes. Apple was on a roll for so long hubris took over and they probably never expected the iWatch to underperform as much as it did. Whether it was profitable I don’t know. But it hasn’t gotten the best representation especially for the price.

    And why would you expect the price to go down on a new product if it was improved with more memory? That’s the exact opposite of how the world outside of alcohol works. Aging technology does not fetch a higher price. But from the article I can see you did very little homework if any and are really just throwing the adult equivalent of a tantrum for not getting what you want when you want it.

    D’Monder…. I don’t know what the h*** you are thinking with “remember General Motors”. Considering how successful they are as a company and have been for nearly a century I fail to remember what calamity befell General Motors. Besides the government bailout which was pretty much given to an embarrassingly amount of major companies mostly from banks and brokerage firms doing shady accounting which finally caught up to them and left us with the bill. Excluding that GM is a model company. It has over 40 billion dollars in liquid cash reserves. Great sales. Great yearly profits. And was just another victim of banks giving loans to people with 0% down and had no trustworthy credit history (it’s not quite that simple but if I were to sum it up quickly that and Ponzi schemes with cooked books would be the best reasons to give).

    Anyway GM is a great company. Perhaps you just don’t realize all its subsidiary companies. But this is about Apple which is also a great company and sits on a each reserve that entire countries would salivate at having in their own reserves. Considering Apple is where it is and you are where you are. I would have to say Apple knows more about what it’s doing than you do. Or you would be the CEO of a giant successful company with a blogger second guessing its direction.

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