How Did Apple Miss the 4″ iPhone Demand?

Tim Cook, during Apple’s earnings call yesterday, discussing the iPhone SE:

We’re thrilled with the response that we’ve seen on it. It is clear that there is a demand there even much beyond what we thought. That is really why we have the constraint that we have.

Sometimes, you can’t help but think that Apple has its own internal reality distortion field. That they don’t do any market research. That they really don’t know what people want.

My experience is limited, of course, but plenty of people I’ve communicated with – in person, by email, on Twitter, etc. – have expressed their preference for a 4″ phone. Lots of other people have written about this as well. It’s as though Apple thought they could wave a magic wand and make people want larger phones.

I’ve been a booster for the 4″ iPhone ever since I bought the iPhone 6s, which was simply too large for a pocket computer (for me). I know that lots of people prefer the larger 6 / 6s model, and the clown-shoe sized 6 Plus / 6s Plus. But there are lots of use who want smaller.

Tim Cook even said, during the previous earnings call, that 60% of iPhone users still had smaller phones.

Now that the iPhone SE has been released, Cook suggests that Apple simply didn’t see the demand. Apple’s delay of offering larger iPhones was probably a mistake, but not retaining the 4″ model in their line-up when the iPhone 6 was released was just as bad. When the iPhone SE was released, most people thought it would remain an outlier, but I think now that Apple will add a 4″ model to its main product line, rather than having it as a separate device. There really are a lot of people who don’t want a larger phone.

It’s also worth noting that the iPhone SE may be selling more because of its lower price. Now that Apple is selling fewer iPhones, they may have to start competing on price.