Does the New iPhone Create a Class Distinction?
Colorful or sleek, what your new iPhone may say about you.
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The Responsibility Project
In the past, simply owning an iPhone said something about buyers – a pocket-sized status symbol in its own right. And before the introduction of the iPhone 5 a year ago, the different models weren’t that different from each other, offered in white and black.
But Apple recently announced that its iPhone 5s would come in two, well, classes. The iPhone 5c, which starts at $99, with a contract, comes in colors like bubblegum pink, sunny yellow and fire engine red (not their official names). The higher-end model, the iPhone 5s, starts at $199 and comes in colors that more resemble the exteriors of luxury automobiles: gold, silver and “space gray.”
An NPR story notes that where the choice literally was black and white previously, “Now there’s a clear, and quite colorful, distinction between who paid the big bucks and who decided to go cheap.”
Apple says the lower price point of the 5c will help Apple carve out new territory in a rapidly maturing smartphone market and help it in developing markets such as China, where the current premium price for an iPhone keeps it behind some competitors with cheaper devices.
Motives for market expansion aside, will the bifurcation in iPhone models start a class war at home? Should Apple should just have released one (albeit enhanced) model to avoid creating a hierarchy of iPhone users? Weigh in.