The new Apple iphone has launched. The iphone 5s is the flagship phone and the 5c is the lower priced version.
The rumour was that the 5c was going to be the cheaper version of the iphone to usher in a new period of affordable Apple phones for a younger audience wanting a less conservative designs that can be bought off-contract. In the USA and Europe contract phones are subsidised phones. This means that the price you pay for the phone is just a part of the cost. The monthly fee from the wireless phone company includes a monthly amount to pay for the phone.
For the rest of the world you buy a phone. This is referred to as off-contract. In the UK many people now buy last years' smartphone on ebay and then get a sim only contract with 30 days cancellation as a reaction to 24 months contracts.
Traditionally phone manufacturers have dealt with off-contract purchases in several ways. Some have sold locked pre-paid phones to try and force customers into paying for minutes on a longer term basis. Some offered cheap old models of Android phones. Apple has tended to offer last years' model on a cheaper contract plan. Not completely off contract but a move towards a wider audience. These days you can still buy a iphone 4S on a contract albeit half the contract price of a current model with only a small upfront payment.
So the stage was set for Apple to announce an obscenely expensive fashion icon of a flagship phone and a new accessible low-cost 'peoples iphone' for the masses. This would break Apple into the mass market of low cost Android phones and potential own a second market rather like the ipod Nano conquered low cost flash memory based music players.
This did not happen. Instead the iphone 5c looks a little like the iphone 5 but with a choice of colour cases. Nokia helpfully pointed out that they have had a range of coloured cases on their Lumia range for a couple of years! The main surprise was that this phone was not priced very cheaply. In fact you would not get much change at all from £500.
Added to this there is no nfc chip for mobile payments and no wireless charging (available in £199 Google Nexus 4). Apple are not big on standards preferring their own (closed) ecosystem, or, as they might put it, thinking differently.
If you are not an Apple fan but perhaps what you might refer to as a man or woman in the street looking for a low cost off-contract phone then this is probably not a price bracket you would be considering. In the real world I am still seeing a lot of cheaper Android smartphones being sold off-contract by budget conscious consumers. I am also seeing more Windowsphones costing £89 beginning to appear on my commute. Apple has effectively decided not to compete in this market. This is not necessarily a bad thing if they make great profits out of the premium market. However that market is now mature and is beginning to look like a replacement market whereas the budget consumers are becoming a mass market.
This may have been the last chance Apple had to become a genuine mass market player in developing countries.