​Apple's iPhone SE: Can it prod customers to buy two iPhones?

Apple's update to its 4-inch version of the iPhone addresses a few key strategic holes in emerging markets, but the iPhone SE could serve as a handy secondary device too.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple launched the iPhone SE, which is designed to address a market for 4-inch smartphones, target a lower end market and potentially emerging markets too, but perhaps the biggest win for the company would be to convince its customers to buy two smartphones.

At a starting price of $399 for 16GB and $499 for 64GB Apple may just address its inexpensive Android device problem.

Billed as the "most powerful 4-inch phone ever," Apple is betting that it can boost its lower end of the market. Greg Joswiak, head of iPhone marketing, said Apple sold more than 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015. "So why are people buying 4-inch iPhones. First, some people simply love smaller phones," said Joswiak.

Key details about the iPhone SE:

  • An A9 processor.
  • The same GPU performance as the iPhone 6s.
  • The design is blockier than its larger siblings.
  • A 12MP iSight camera.
  • It can capture 4K video.
  • NFC radio build it.
  • Faster LTE with more bands.
  • 64GB will start at $499.

But tech details aside, the strategic significance of the iPhone SE is worth noting. Consider:

  • Apple can address the lower-end of the market. The low-end of the smartphone market and emerging regions are expected to supply all the growth going forward. The mature markets are tapped out. Android has be best entry points on the low-end.
  • By bringing a smaller less-expensive iPhone to market, Apple can fill in a key gap vs. Android.
  • The iPhone SE may be an accessory smartphone to its larger siblings.

Consider a person with an iPhone 6 Plus, or even a 6s, who is sometimes weighed down by a large screen device. There are clearly times when you yearn for the smaller iPhone. Anyone who has been caught up with the phablet movement on iOS or Android knows that larger-screen phones can sometimes feel like a cinder block in your pocket.

Apple March 21 highlights: iPhone SE, iPad and more (gallery)

The 4-inch iPhone can almost be an accessory for when you don't want to lug around a larger device. In certain scenarios, the iPhone SE can be that Goldilocks device. Perhaps the iPhone SE becomes your workout phone.

Apple certainly wouldn't mind if its customers had two devices. After all, Apple wants you on its platform regardless of the screen size. And if you can get the smaller screen with higher-end specs why wouldn't the iPhone SE make sense?

Apple executives may not address the two iPhone person directly, but you can connect the dots if the price is right. The potential Apple pitch for the iPhone SE seems obvious to me. Now we'll see if tech buyers go for it.

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