In the smartphone industry, perhaps no other manufacturer has optimized the production line and cost of production like Apple.
In April 2020, Apple introduced the second-generation iPhone SE. While most current smartphones, including the iPhones themselves released in late 2019, switch to large designs, screens over 6 inches, the iPhone SE is the difference with the 4.7 inch screen.
The first reviews for this device praised a smartphone for $ 399, but equipped with nearly the same configuration as the current most powerful iPhone. Android news site Android Police even rated the iPhone SE with the headline “I wish the $ 400 Android smartphone could be this good”.
That’s a real wish, because no smartphone company has made an effective device like Apple to sell such a powerful $ 400 smartphone.
Tim Cook’s smooth machine
To understand how well Apple works, check out the “organ” analysis of the phone made by iFixit. According to this analysis, the iPhone SE 2020 uses a lot of components used to be on the iPhone 8, even the parts are interchangeable.
Specifically, the rear camera assembly, SIM tray, vibration unit (Taptic Engine) and display assembly (including microphones and proximity sensors) of the iPhone SE 2020 and iPhone 8 are identical, interchangeable and still work normal.
That means that if you use the iPhone SE 2020 and have broken the above parts, you can replace them with similar parts taken in iPhone 8 at a much cheaper cost, especially the screen. However, if you swap screens, your phone will lose True Tone unless you use an intervention tool.
“We find it interesting that Apple has rebuilt the phone with components from many previous models. It’s easier to find replacement parts, and reusing old production lines also helps reduce waste. in general “, the article on iFixit said.
Launching a smartphone with components since 2017 shows Apple’s efficiency. According to IHS Markit’s analysis, on the iPhone 8, the screen ($ 52.5) and camera cluster ($ 32.5) are two of the three most expensive components. The remaining component is the chassis and the ports are also pretty much used by Apple on the iPhone SE 2020.
By reusing so many old components, Apple will not have to redesign or redevelop important technologies. They can also proactively enter more components and better prices, thereby reducing the cost of each component. This efficiency and savings are the factors that help Apple sell iPhone SE for $ 399 and still be able to profit.
Apple’s smooth supply chain machine is no longer a secret. This machine has been running smoothly since Tim Cook joined Apple in 1998. This supply chain expert is the one who has brought efficiency, synonymous with profits for Apple for more than 2 decades.
This is why it is difficult for smartphone companies to replace a different design, arrangement and components each year to make a smartphone similar to the iPhone SE and sell it for $ 399 and still make a profit.
Trade excitement for profit
Because of the aforementioned efficiency, Apple always has to maintain stability on the product. The iPhone 8 design actually dates back to 2014, with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus series. Apple only tweaked some details to make 3 more iPhone generations, before launching the iPhone X in 2017. This year, the company can take advantage of the design 6 years ago again.
Not only the iPhone, but take advantage of the design also appears with the MacBook Pro line (from 2016-2018), MacBook Air (2011-2017) or iPod Touch (2013-2019). Extending a design makes the device more iconic and recognizable, but it also makes the user boring. Prior to the launch of the iPhone X, many reviews described the iPhone 7 design that had become obsolete after three consecutive years of iteration.
Besides being boring, keeping the line stable also makes every change be delayed, even when there is an error. The keyboard “butterfly” on the MacBook has been called disgrace since its launch in 2015, but it was not until the end of 2019 that it could integrate a new keyboard on the 16-inch MacBook Pro. Apple even accepts keyboard repairs for users up to 4 years. The cost of repair is not small, but certainly lower than the cost of designing a new keyboard and changing the chassis.
Design “rabbit ears” was new when launched, but only a year later was overtaken by Android brands with a series of strange designs. However, Apple is expected to stick with the screen gap until at least 2020, when the iPhone 12 generation was born. Designing and manufacturing hardware is expensive, so Apple needs to make the most of every design they have.
The pragmatic use of Apple is evident when they launched the iPod Touch in 2019. Apple did not dare to “kill” this iconic device, but also did not want to invest too much in a product that is no longer a pet. The result is a “new but not new” iPod Touch, which Business Insider’s Dave Smith writes as “to keep profits first”.
Apple’s policy does not necessarily benefit its users. Thanks to its line-of-sight optimization, they can recommend very affordable iPhones like the iPhone SE, XR or 11. The iPhone XR has become the best-selling phone in 2019, and the iPhone 11 may be replaced in 2020.
When the economy is affected, the smartphone industry is no longer growing, pragmatic rather than breakthrough technologies are the key to Apple’s success in the future.