How does Apple play with “price ratio”?

How to maintain multiple products of different price ranges on one product line has become a thorny issue that Apple needs to solve.

In the early years, Apple didn't have to think about it a lot. Fixing an iPhone and an iPad every year meant that Apple would make choices for users and come up with the best products at the time.

Now it’s different. The iPhone has long since broken away from the era of "single-machine fighting the world". It has changed from one model to two models each year, and then three models. On the upcoming iPhone 12, it may increase to four models, and they will all There are different configuration combinations for different user groups.

▲ The iPad product category has stabilized at four

The iPad is similar. At first, it only joined the mini, then relied on Pro to enter the professional market, and launched the entry-level iPad for the educational user group. Last year, the Air and mini series were resurrected, and now there are products in four price ranges. .

Finally, the Apple Watch. After this round of updates at the autumn conference, intermediate models such as "SE" have also been added to the Apple Watch lineup, instead of just a one-year iteration of the Series series.

▲ Rumors say that this year’s iPhone 12 will have four models

So far, in the three major product lines of iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch, Apple has begun to maintain three "high, medium and low" products, or even more than three, with products with different names and different price points.

The right to choose is also returned to the users. How to let some special personnel get the top experience, but at the same time expand the overall audience of the product, and control it under a reasonable price?​

We can see some clues from the just released iPad Air 4 and Apple Watch SE.

This time, Apple has delegated many unique features of the iPad Pro to the new iPad Air.

The most intuitive is the full-screen form with four equal sides, which makes iPad Air 4 have almost the same appearance, size and weight as iPad Pro.

You can even see that the iPad Air 4 is one step ahead of the iPhone 12, using the latest A14 chip this year.

In addition, like the second-generation Apple Pencil and touchpad Magic Keyboard, these accessories that were once only available on the iPad Pro, as well as USB-C, WiFi 6, and other interfaces, network connection features, etc., have now become the Air series. Available.

In fact, there are still many gaps between the two. For example, the iPad Air 4 does not support ProMotion adaptive refresh rate technology, has no four-way speakers, no Face ID, and the complex rear multi-camera module is also switched to a single camera. These selling points are still exclusive to the Pro version.

But relying on the starting price of 4799 yuan, the iPad Air 4, which includes many flagship features, has been enough to excite many people for a while.

Let’s take a look at the Apple Watch SE. It uses the same design and screen shape as Apple Watch Series 6, but only carries the S5 chip, which is the first grade than the 6th generation. At the same time, it cuts off all-weather display technology, blood oxygen, and electrodes. Two heart rate sensors.

This means that Apple Watch SE will not have two key health detection functions: blood oxygen and ECG electrocardiogram. They are still "exclusive" to flagship models such as Series 6, and they will not let previous users who bought Series 5 last year. Some dissatisfaction.

However, the SE is still very complete with functions such as accelerometer and all-weather altimeter, not to mention that its starting price is one-third lower than that of Series 6, which makes it enough to replace the aging Series 3 and become a new explosive watch.

From the configuration and positioning of these two new products, it is not difficult to see that Apple is actually applying the "affordable product" strategy of iPhone XR and iPhone 11 to iPad and Apple Watch.

This is equivalent to doing a "subtraction" for the two flagship models.

It is true that similar gameplay reductions are very common in the current mobile phone market, but like Apple, being able to provide products at a reasonable price that is not inferior to the flagships of the same class, on the contrary, makes people feel a bit uncommon.

The iPhone XR and iPhone 11 back then are also typical examples. On the one hand, it does have similar features to the higher-end series, such as Face ID, the latest A-series chips, and a full-screen design. The core difference is not big.

But on the other hand, from the perspective of camera combination, body craftsmanship and screen quality, you also know that they will not be a product of positioning.

Why does Apple do this?

▲ The chip performance and characteristics are consistent or basically equivalent to ensure the consistency of the device experience

First, this is related to the consistent software experience that Apple pursues.

I don’t know if you have discovered that whether it is high-end, mid-range, or low-end iPhone, iPad and Apple Watch devices, Apple will tend to let them use the same grade A-series and S-series chips as the flagship, or just the next one. Files to ensure that each device can get a peer-to-peer iOS system experience and maintain consistency.

Here we have to emphasize the important role of A series chips in Apple devices: it has excellent process technology and performance, even if it is a chip 1-2 years ago, it can still be played in the low-end market. The wind is rising, and the supporting coprocessor and AI engine can provide many algorithms and neural network technical support.

So you see, even if the iPhone SE uses the same single camera as the iPhone 8, with the help of A13, it can get the portrait mode camera function and play the latest mobile games.

Similarly, the eighth-generation iPad using the A12 chip this time, with the support of the second-generation neural network engine, also realized the handwritten text recognition function in the memo app.

In the end, performance has become the most important part of devices such as iPhones and iPads, because no matter which gear you choose, the past two or three generations of A-series chips will ensure that their performance is not inferior to competing products in the same period. Smoothly run the latest versions of iOS, iPadOS and other systems.

What is really used to bridge the gap between Apple's "affordable products" and flagship devices is the structure, technology, screen quality, or secondary components such as cameras and sensors.

This involves the second point, which selling points Apple will keep when doing subtraction.

Appearance is undoubtedly the first place. This time, iPad Air 4 or Apple Watch SE use a design similar to the flagship product, and even the screen size is almost the same. iPhone 11 and XR are the same as the 11 Pro, The XS and other series are also unified in the design language.

It is actually beneficial to let mid- and low-end price products "snap" the flagship appearance. Many users will naturally use the "flagship model" as a reference after viewing the pictures or using the real phone, which indirectly enhances the product's image.

In the past two years, Apple also likes to output such an "illusion" in products such as iPhone 11 and iPhone XR: do the best in the parts that are most easily perceivable by users (appearance, performance), and dilute those parts that are not easily perceivable. , And finally matched with a reasonable price to create the perception of "high cost performance".

Today, this "illusion" is also reflected in the iPad Air 4 and Apple Watch SE, relying on our perception of iPad Pro and Apple Watch Series 6.

You can also think of it as an "anchor effect", just like you have heard a lot of the advantages of the iPad Pro and used its price as a reference. Now someone suddenly tells you that you only need about half of the Price, you can get a device similar to it, then you will naturally be satisfied with this result.

So, which selling points belong to the "not strong" part? Still take the iPad Air 4 as an example. Compared with the iPad Pro, it has four speakers, less adaptive refresh rate, and no components such as lidar scanning. Strictly speaking, they are all "desserts" that most people cannot use. Level function".

At this point, Apple does reduce if it can cut, or cut if it can cut, or just keep it at a basic level, and it can be used (three shots to single shots, four speakers to double speakers).

But it is precisely because this kind of "shrinkage" is too inconspicuous, most people do not look at the configuration table, in fact, they are not very aware of it. Instead, they think that "affordable products" are more cost-effective and more valuable.

At this point, Apple's goal has been achieved, and then we can see the result-Apple's "affordable products" have become the best-selling and most popular devices in each product line. This is true for iPhone 11, iPhone XR, and earlier Apple Watch Series 3 and iPad Air.

Even if they are not the devices with the best configuration, workmanship, and materials in everyone's minds, for consumers, the functions provided by affordable products are quite sufficient, and Apple's "price ratio" is also reflected here.

Source of title picture: ADSLZone

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