During yesterday's All Things D kickoff interview, Walt Mossberg asked Tim Cook why Apple hasn't yet released different iPhone models for a range of demographics and regions. If a varied product lineup worked so successfully for the iPod, Mossberg wondered, why not implement a similar strategy for the iPhone.
In short, amidst a sea of increasingly popular Android handsets with large screens, Mossberg wanted to know why Apple has continued to stick with a one-size-fits-all iPhone strategy.
Cook first responded that while Apple hasn't yet released an iPhone with a bigger screen, but that doesn't necessarily mean that they won't in the future.
It takes a lot of work, a lot of really detailed work to do a phone right when you manage the hardware, the software and the services around it. We've chosen to put our energies into getting those right, and have made the choices in order to do that so we haven't become de-focused working multiple lines.
Cook also pointed out that Apple's varied selection of iPods wasn't done haphazardly, explaining that each distinct iPod model served a different role and addressed different needs.
"And so on the phone, that is the question," Cook continued. "Are we now at a point to serve enough people that we need to do that?"
Pressing forward, Mossberg asked if a large screen is different enough of an experience that it's now worth pursuing, especially in light of the fact that consumers seem to enjoy devices with larger screens.
At a macro level, it might. A large screen today comes with a lot of trade-offs. Customers clearly are looking at size, but they are also looking at things like, do the photos show the proper color, the white balance, reflectivity, battery life, brightness, the longevity of the display. So there are a whole bunch of things that are very important to the display. So what our customers want is for us to weigh those and come out with a decision. And at this point, we felt that the Retina display that we're shipping is overwhelmingly the best.
In a hypothetical world where trade-offs don't exist, you could see that screen size would be a differentiation.
It's certainly an interesting take, but I don't quite buy into Cook's notion that average consumers are making extremely informed decisions about screen size when picking out a smartphone. On the contrary, I think consumers are easily lured into purchasing a device with a big screen and vibrant colors and don't give much, if any, thought to metrics such as white balance and the longevity of the display.
You can check out Cook's full answer below.