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August 19th 2013 5:14 pm

Does a gold-colored iPhone signal a new direction for Apple?

Image: 9to5Mac (9to5mac.com­/2013­/08­/19­/the­-gold­-iphone­-5s­-fingerpr...)

As usual, much speculation characterizes the lead up to Apple's fall product announcement. With rumors of a cheaper iPhone 5C making waves over the last few weeks, the most recent leak details a new color for Apple's flagship - gold. But, why gold, and why now?

On the technical side, gold is the easiest color to anodize onto aluminum, possibly improving yield. But, what's the commercial motivation? Many have speculated (www.imore.com­/gold­-iphone­-5s) that Apple is under increased pressure (www.tuaw.com­/2013­/08­/09­/apple­-board­-tells­-tim­-cook...), particularly because this is the year where iPhone changes aren't forward-facing, to bring something "new" to the market to compete with the growing power of Android. While it's unlikely that this means a flagship with an entirely different design, it could definitely mean the previously mentioned iPhone 5C, and a new color for the 5S.

If Apple keeps "premium" colors like Slate, White, and Gold exclusive to its high-end models, it could help differentiate their flagships from the rumored, more playfully-colored, and cheaper iPhone model, in an attempt to avoid cannibalization.

Does a new, gold-colored iPhone make you want it any more than you already might? Why do you think Apple might be considering a new color for its flagship this far into its lifespan?

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7 replies

I can honestly say that the iPhone is a physically BEAUTIFUL phone, and I WOULD NOT cover it up if I had one! It feels great in your hand, and looks attractive - especially the old "wafer thin" design, it blew my mind! But for all of the iPhones I see out there, they ALL have cases and covers. So what's the point in bringing out a new color?????
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You buy an iPhone to use it, you buy a case to fit your lifestyle. If I didn't work at a desk I would probably buy a waterproof or more durable case. I only have a bumper (third party, Apple doesn't make them for the 5) to keep it looking nice when I drop it from time to time.

If the iPhone was waterproof and the edges didn't scratch when I dropped it, then I wouldn't have a case. It is nice to have the option of picking out the case I want though.
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A good chunk of people don't put covers on their phones. Also, people with covers and cases still make a big deal about their phone color for some strange reason.
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Apple wants to upsell to people who love their products. Making it look shinier and fancier than the rumored low cost iPhone easily justifies charging double or triple for similar internals. Same thing with the MPB and retina MBP. People who want better can pay for it, while everyone else can buy the "cheaper version" saying they "don't need" whatever upgrade is available.

Apple got iOS into the pocket of people everywhere and they want to capitalize on that foundation with people who want something that stands out.

Maybe we will have two new models:

iPhone 5C - lots of bright colors to appeal to children and allow people to pick their favorite color instead of buying a colored case, more durable, no change in camera or screen, new processor

iPhone 5S - for special gold edition, durable, higher res screen, 12MP camera, more standard storage, new processor
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Higher res? or Higher compared to the "5C"?

With Apples reluctance to add new screen resolutions to their stable, I doubt we will be seeing a new phone from them this year with resolution higher than the current iPhone 5
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You're right, that's likely a stretch for a prediction.

Part of me just thinks that if Apple debuts two new iPhones there needs to be a lot of things different between them. This comes with the understanding that the lower cost one will be between $100 and $200 and the higher cost one will be between $300 and $400 (of course those prices are subsidized with two year contracts).

The other part of me thinks that Apple has had enough problems with yield on the 5 because of the magical thinness of the device and will continue to only release one model. This would reinforce the good manufacturing principles to reduce operating costs that they've been consistent with since the debut of the iPod.

I'm talking about obvious tech business principles like
limiting the number of moving parts (think clam shell or slider phones)- minimize mechanical failures late in product life or from "normal" abuse

making different products vastly different (10" iPad, 4" iPhone, 7"iPad mini)- current products do not compete within categories, customers should not be confused as to which product is right for them (think Sony/Samsung)

performing duties through software instead of hardware (touchscreens, few buttons and indicator lights)- firmware and software updates can increase performance over time

minimizing removable parts (batteries, keyboards, screens etc. are difficult to replace)- related to first principle, when customer hack or modify the device it's more obvious and certainly discourage

allow for the illusion of customization (expensive memory upgrades before you buy) - the product was made months ago, but this makes the customer feel like they have a choice to dictate what is right for them, but you still encourage the one size fits all

stand out from your competition while using the same basic components for things that aren't important to the customer (retina MBP, iPhone 5) similar software as everything else so you can do what you want, but the things that people care about are tailored to be extra special in your device. Essentially it's working smart instead of hard, and allowing yourself to keep your prices high because people know they are paying for high quality.
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I liked the Gold/Champagne for the same reason I like white phones. Not everybody find them attractive which make them less common. But champagne would go better with black in my opinion.
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