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Is Apple’s range out of control?

Is it time that Apple took control of their range of products, and just simplified it a little?

Apple
image courtesy of author

More coming soon

Far Out, the next Apple event is just over a week away, and anyone in this Apple and tech space is juiced!

There are a couple of reasons for that – firstly, at heart, we are all Apple geeks. Seeing what the company has been working on and is about to release, is still as exciting to me as ever.

Apple’s Far Out event, otherwise known as the iPhone event, will feature the release of this year’s iPhone 14. That remains one of the biggest tech events and product releases of the year. Although some hype of the early and mid-2000’s has subsided a little, it is still big news.

But, it will not be all iPhone, as Apple Watch 8 is expected to be released in tandem with iPhone 14. This year, the big news is that Apple are adding to the Watch range with a $1000 Apple Watch 8 Pro edition. Larger, tougher, and clearly, more expensive, Apple Watch 8 has been rumoured for release for a while now.

All of that is to come at just one event. It is more than likely that Apple will be holding two more events before the year is out. So, the product range will be burgeoning by the time we say goodbye to 2022.

I said there were a couple of reasons that anyone reporting on the Apple space is always delighted for conference season. The first, of course, is the product, and the other, is it gives us new devices to test and make content about. The summer months can be long and dry – and I’m not talking about the weather!

After WWDC in June, we have little to cover, so creating interesting, relevant and fresh content can be, well, a challenge, to put it lightly! We do our best…promise…

Is more better?

This morning, when I was out doing some cardio work, I was listening to an Apple-based podcast. In it, they were discussing Mac’s, iPads, iPhones, Apple Watches, all the normal fare, and it just got me thinking.

As much as we want more, the next and the newest, is the Apple range at risk of becoming too flabby and confusing? Does it now need some simplifying and to go on a diet?

Perhaps it is us, the consumer, that is at fault rather than Apple. I am guessing you don’t become a multi-trillion dollar net worth company, by a happy mistake. Meticulous planning, marketing and a strict product release strategy must surely be at its very core. If we didn’t demand, then they would not develop and release – right?

But, if we just go through the range, I think you’ll see where my thoughts are coming from.

iPhone

Ok, so this is probably the simplest of their product range, even though, by sales, the most important.

iPhone 14 will be announced at next week’s Far Out event. If all the reliable sources close to Apple are to be believed, then this year, the iPhone mini is due to be dropped from the line-up. Sales, apparently, were just not supporting its place, so Apple responded in the way it knows best.

It will be a super-simple range for iPhone 14 – with just four models available (not considering storage options etc). There will be the 14 and 14 Max, then the 14 Pro and 14 Pro Max. Just two screen sizes for the non-Pro and Pro phones – that’s all ya’ get. Perfect!

A lesson that could be applied better across Apple’s range, as we shall look at now.

Mac

Now, this is where my thoughts began today for this blog. On the podcast I was listening to this morning, they were chatting over the ‘need’ for a 15-inch MacBook. That kind of made my ears prick up, as I just don’t see it. We simply don’t need yet another screen size option, do we?

The range here, is at best, already complete, and at worst bursting at the seams.

It starts with two 13-inch option MacBook Air’s. You can still buy the M1 MacBook Air, and now the M2 variant as well. Next, are the MacBook Pro’s. In this range, which is now all M2, you have another 13-inch Mac, a 14-inch and a 16-inch.

Moving away from laptops, let’s now look at desktops. There is the Mac mini, 24-inch iMac, Mac Studio and Mac Pro.

It is the array of laptops that I reckon could be smoothed out a little. If the moniker of ‘Air’ were to be dropped, I think we could get back to starting the laptop range, simply, with a MacBook. It would, ostensibly, be the Air, but it would just sit neater in the range if it were just called a MacBook. So, we have our 13-inch MacBook, then on to the MacBook Pro’s, which are perfect as they are. This is all you need then –

  • a 13-inch MacBook
  • 14-inch MacBook Pro
  • 16-inch MacBook Pro

How tidy does that look? The desktop Mac’s each have clear positions, with no overlap or confusion. Although there is some clamour for a new iMac Pro 27-inch, there really is now, no need. The combination of a Mac Studio and Studio Display does away with an iMac Pro in my opinion.

Apple Watch

Hmmm, now the judge and jury are out on this, but, looking at Apple’s website, you could opt to buy a Series 7, SE, a Series 3, or two third-party branded options, Hermes or Nike. And all those are available in two screen sizes.

I’d assume the 7 will be dropped after the October event, but the range will be added to with the Apple Watch Pro. The fact that Apple have retained the two branded watches, means one of two things. Either they are selling well, or the licensing fees are worth their while in not dropping them from the line-up.

And yes, I fully appreciate that the Apple Watch Pro is looking to be ever so expensive. It’s not for me, or possibly you, just like the Mac Pro, but it is an entirely different spot in which it sits, so I get why Apple want to plug that gap in the market. In so doing, they may possibly, even steal some market-share back from Garmin.

Surely, it’s time for the series 3 and possibly even the SE to go. I understand they are attractively priced and seen as entry options, but, the internals are starting to show signs of age. You can buy a Series 7, in aluminium, with a Solo Loop for £369 anyway. This highlights my point neatly. The Apple Watch page is a mess. I should know, as I just bought one a month back for my daughter’s birthday. If we could slim down the range, it may be easier to understand. So, how about this –

  • Apple Watch Series 8 with either 41mm or 45mm faces
  • Apple Watch Pro with a 47mm face

A nice, easy menu option, and in-keeping in model naming with the Mac’s and iPhones – non-Pro and Pro. You’d still have a myriad of case materials, finishes, and straps to work your way through, but at least the starting point is somewhat simplified.

iPad

Right – sleeves up, this is where it really gets messy.

iPad seems to have lost its way. Is it a Mac replacement, or a tablet in its own right? Apple clearly doesn’t want you to consider it to be a Mac, which must be behind the route they’ve gone with the OS. It seems clear, well, to me at least, that they see the Mac and iPad working with one another.

They will almost certainly be bundled together at the same October, Apple event, and if Stage Manager ever sorts itself out, they will have that in common too. But it is the range itself that appears confusing and bloated. The iPad lineup is currently made up of an iPad mini, iPad, iPad Air and iPad Pro.

Prices and specs are tripping over themselves left, right & centre. Trying to decide where to focus your spend is mighty confusing. Working out what processors, they are running, what screen size you need, and what their niche purpose is, takes some consideration.

Assuming that macOS will never make its way to iPad, isn’t it time that the range were really trimmed back? With a smaller, tighter selection from which to choose, each of their places in the market become more obvious. I could see this iPad range looking attractive;

  • iPad mini 8.3-inch
  • iPad 10.9-inch
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch

Again, all the options of Wi-Fi, cellular, and storage should remain, but suddenly, the range is easier to understand. The mini is an entry point iPad, the 10.9-inch iPad would be for the student or office user. Then the iPad Pro speaks for itself. Who knows, the iPad Pro may even get Pro apps at some point too! Does the iPad Pro really require two screen sizes? And am I being naive to suggest one processor option for iPad too?

Wrapping up

If we could get to a more cohesive, slimmed down range across the entire Apple range, how much simpler would it look? In essence, non-Pro or Pro devices for Apple Watch, Mac, iPad, or iPhone.

With less confusion on the landing page, more clarity is given for making the right choice at the point of purchase. None of the products Apple sell are cheap, so the importance of us understanding what we are buying and thereby avoiding buyer’s remorse is hugely important.

These could just be the confused ramblings of an early morning cardio session I have committed to the written word, but the more I look at it, the more sense it’s making to me. What about you? Are you confused by the sheer choice we currently have on offer from Apple?

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