Excellent, fair review and perspective. The storage section at the end is especially incisive:
Apple should not be selling 16 GB iPads. The starting tier for typical consumers should be 32 GB. There’s just not enough usable space on a 16 GB iOS device to do the things Apple has worked so hard to make easy to do. …
I also understand the product marketing angle. That there are a lot of people who will look at the 16 GB models, see that they can get four times the storage for just $100 more, and buy the 64 GB model instead — when they would’ve bought the base model if it were 32 GB. I get it. There’s no doubt in my mind it’s good short-term business sense to go with a 16/64/128 lineup instead of 32/64/128. But Apple is not a short-term business. They’re a long-term business, built on a relationship of trust with repeat customers. 16 GB iPads work against the foundation of Apple’s brand, which is that they only make good products.
Apple has long used three-tier pricing structures within individual product categories. They often used to label them “Good”, “Better”, and “Best”. Now, with these 16 GB entry-level devices, it’s more like “Are you sure?”, “Better”, and “Best”.
This relates to my argument in last week’s Accidental Tech Podcast that Apple’s high hardware margins are a strategy tax that hinders other important factors within the company.
A balance must be struck between healthy profit margins and making good products. I don’t think Apple has ever only made good products,1 but the introduction of “Are you sure?” models has only come to iPhones and iPads in recent years — the first few generations of iOS devices (and iPods) were all high-end when they came out.
And until this year, the “Are you sure?” iOS devices were just older models that got pushed down the product line over time with embarrassingly low storage sizes, like 8 GB.2 But iOS, cameras, and apps have progressed to the point that even 16 GB devices are now constrained, exacerbated by iOS’ poor user storage management. This is the first year that Apple’s flagship iOS devices are available in sizes that will often result in poor user experiences.
Not long ago, we could just tell our friends and family to buy “an iPhone” or “an iPad”, unqualified. They were all great.
Now, if our parents call us and say, “We just got an iPad!”, we need to think, Oh no, which one did they get? Please don’t be one of the shitty ones…
The cheapest Macs have usually shipped with too little RAM. No computer can be called good today if it ships with less than 8 GB of RAM, like the base models of the Mac Mini, MacBook Air, and non-Retina MacBook Pro — or if it only ships with a hard drive instead of an SSD or Fusion Drive, like the base models of the Mac Mini, 13” MacBook Pro, and non-Retina iMacs. ↩︎
The free-with-contract iPhones have all been 8 GB, including the 5c this year. ↩︎