Apple doesn’t do cheap. It never has and, despite a summer of hype and hope, it was never going to slap a bargain-bucket price tag on its new iPhone 5c.
However, its decision to start flogging its plastic device at £469 SIM-free, rising to £569 for the 32GB model, is proof positive just how little Apple is interested in competing with Samsung, HTC and Nokia in the lower end of the smartphone gene pool.
Plenty can be (and has already been) said about this being a huge mistake by Apple.
The game has changed and where it once defined the future, it’s now having to follow its rivals.
Except that the level of hubris at the top of the Cupertino company means it’s unwilling to dilute its brand by offering the iPhone 5c at a super low price point in the same way others are happy to.
The idea of anyone in China, India or other developing markets being willing to pay this much money upfront is absurd.
That’s one way of looking at it. The other is that Apple knows that with so many million iOS devices out there, shifting iPhones is no longer how it makes the big bucks.
That money comes from the App Store, where it still bests Google Play, despite there being millions more Android phones and tablets in the wild.
Analysis firm Distimo’s May figures showed Apple’s daily revenue from its Top 200 paid apps at $5.1 million, compared to $1.1 million for Google.
So, perhaps Apple doesn’t think it needs to flog that many iPhone 5cs in order to make cash (which, let’s face it, is it’s ultimate goal).
Even with that high price, it’s hard to imagine the iPhone 5c being a flop. Once we get complete contract info from the networks, there’ll be a clearer idea of the device’s chances.
As ever, even if numbers are sluggish, perspective will be required.
Apple still massively outsells the likes of Nokia and HTC in the smartphone sector and this new phone will doubtless be no different.
What the iPhone 5c does lay bare, though, is that Apple has no plans at all to offer a genuinely cheap phone.
It clearly doesn’t perceive a low-cost kit as a viable way of making big profits, seeing as the margins would be so low in selling a phone for under £200, say.
The specs are essentially the same as 2012’s iPhone 5, except for the polycarbonate shell.
We’re hardly looking at a phone that offers entry-level internals, such as Nokia’s superb but limited Lumia 625.
Be under no illusion, the iPhone 5c will sell. But it marks a point where Apple is no longer leading the conversation.
These days it feels like Cook and co have become ‘me too’ purveyors, something that was almost unthinkable just a few years ago.