On Monday March 21st, Apple is rumored to be unveiling two new additions to the iPhone and iPad families. Apple is likely taking a “smaller” route with these two devices, hoping to appeal to consumers who may have been turned off by the larger devices. With 33% of the market belonging to the iPhone 5, 5S, and 5C, there is a big opportunity for a strong upgrade cycle and quick adoption of the new devices.
However, this out-of-cycle announcement begs the question: do we really need yet another device? More specifically, what effect will this have on mobile engagement? Will it only add to the mobile engagement crisis we are already in?
Just like we have prepared for such events in the past, we measured Apple’s current device share to see the potential impact these new models could have on the mobile industry.
iPhone 6 Still Reigns Supreme
Keeping true to our previous reports, the iPhone 6 is still the most adopted iPhone with 32% of the market share, followed by the iPhone 5S with 19%. The new phone, the iPhone SE (rumored name), is said to be an enhanced version of the iPhone 5S. The new model will be a mixture of the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 models in terms of look and hardware, including having a 4 inch screen. It is also rumored to have one of the best cameras Apple has ever developed, but no 3-D touch.
Apple may be hoping to benefit from the success of the iPhone 5S by essentially creating an updated version of it. Since the biggest differentiator may be that the iPhone SE has all the upgrades of the current models but in a compacted form, there is a big upgrade opportunity for consumers who are holding on to the older models and are reluctant to change to a larger device.
With reports saying that the iPhone SE could go on sale within a week of the announcement, it will be interesting to see if it has better early adoption than last fall’s models, the iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. Even more interesting will be the longer term effect on consumer behaviors. Will a smaller device improve mobile engagement because it better meets consumers’ needs?
Apple Adding to the Pro Line
Since our last iPad market share report, the iPad Air has emerged as the most adopted model with 18% of the market. The model beat the iPad 2, which means that for the first time in over a year, a new iPad model is at the top of the list. On the other end of the spectrum, the iPad Pro is the least adopted model, capturing only 1% of the market.
Apple will try to resurrect the Pro line with the unveiling of the newest iPad, a smaller version of the iPad Pro. The new model will be 9.7 inches compared to its 12.9 inch predecessor. The new iPad is said to have stylus support, four speakers, additional RAM, and a connector for attaching a keyboard allowing it to transform beyond the traditional iPad.
Adding this smaller device to the Pro line suggests that there will be two kinds of iPads: the iPad Air as the more affordable line and the iPad Pro with the more powerful hardware and features. Creating this differentiation between the two signifies Apple’s desire to be a one stop shop for all tablet users. However, we know from our previous analysis that new iPads have low early adoption, and with all the questions about the decline of the tablet, we’ve got to wonder: are tablets on their way to becoming an irrelevant way for consumers to engage on mobile?
What This Means For Mobile Engagement
The introduction of a new device has more than one implication for mobile engagement. For starters, we know with a new device comes the possibility of an app purge. When people buy a new phone, they will only download the apps they love and frequently use, meaning many apps get left behind and companies lose the opportunity to engage with their users.
Secondly, will businesses see significant differences in mobile usage due to the smaller screens? Clearly, a fair number of people prefer a smaller screen, as evidenced by the number of iPhone 5S and iPad mini devices still in the current market. And if this is true, then what happens to the tablet - will they continue on their downward slope? Now that the hardware has caught up to consumer demand, will people engage more or less?
More importantly, will apps be ready? How fast will app publishers tailor their apps to fit the new smaller screen? Now there is yet another device for businesses to adapt to. Companies’ ability to modify their mobile experience back to a smaller screen will make a difference when it comes to user retention in the short term, but will it be enough in the long run, when it comes to winning the hearts and minds of a business’ most loyal customers?