Wednesday, October 21, 2015

No Longer Good, Better, Best

Ben Lovejoy:

Many of us have expressed dismay at the fact that Apple still, in 2015, sells an iPhone with just 16GB of storage. Apple would, of course, argue its corner. […] I could go on, but the simple reality is that most of us need local storage, and trying to palm people off with 16GB is simply unreasonable. Apple is offering an iPhone which pretty much guarantees frustration down the line, and there’s absolutely no reason to do so when it could offer a 64GB starting point at the cost of a few bucks less profit.


And then we have the latest Retina iMacs, where Apple reduced the SSD component of the 1TB Fusion Drive from 128GB to a miserly 24GB. That’s less than the RAM available in some configurations. Effectively, Apple has swapped out a genuine fusion drive – one that really did combine the responsiveness of an SSD with the affordability of a hard drive – for one that is, at the very least, severely compromised. One that is unlikely to deliver the snappiness expected of SSD storage. One which, we might even say, can still be marketed as a fusion drive without genuinely delivering on the promise of the technology.

The 16 GB iPhone 6s is probably the best example. That’s just ridiculous for a new model of Apple’s flagship phone. A lot of people will buy it, not realizing the decision they’re making, and be unhappy down the road. It’s probably a lot more than a few bucks of extra profit, though, because a lot of other people will pay $100 to get the 64 GB iPhone, whereas they would have been happy with a 32 GB base model.

With the iMac, more surprising than the smaller Fusion Drive is that the base model doesn’t have any sort of Fusion Drive. It has a 5400 RPM notebook drive. I don’t think that offers a “Good” experience in 2015. That brand-new iMac is going to feel slow compared with an iOS device or even an old MacBook Air. And it’s likely that many customers won’t realize there’s a huge performance difference, so this won’t work as a tactic for upselling. They’ll just buy the base model.

Apple is currently celebrating all the advances since the original iMac, which retired the floppy drive. How many years until it retires the standalone spinning hard drive?

Prioritizing profits over product quality is short-term thinking. Will Apple keep doing things like this until there’s a decline in measured Customer Sat?

Previously: 16 GB.

Update (2015-10-21): Riccardo Mori:

I’ll reiterate: in a ‘base model’ iMac that costs €1,729 without any add-on, I’d expect at least the low-price 1 TB Fusion Drive option as the default, not old hard drive technology.

See also: Accidental Tech Podcast.

Benjamin Esham:

Apple’s iMac comparison didn’t mention that the first-generation one also came with a 5400 RPM drive.

That was a 3.5-inch drive, albeit one with higher data density.

Update (2015-10-26): See Accidental Tech Podcast.

4 Comments RSS · Twitter

Is there actual empirical evidence that owners of the 16GB phones are unhappy with their iPhones? Not "this couldn't possibly be enough" commenting by people on web sites, but actual surveys or substantial complaints by the people who brought them and used them?

On a similar note, what are the benchmarks for the new low end iMac drives (the 24 GB fusion)? Do we have them yet, or have we simply decided that they *must* be slow?

@Total I haven’t seen empirical evidence about unhappiness, but there is definitely evidence (from third-party apps) that 16 GB phones are often full, and we know that leads to poor user experience. Anecdotally, people don’t seem to know what to do with a full phone other than buy a new one. Maybe they think that’s normal, but I don’t think it contributes to the idea of iPhone as a quality product.

I’m sympathetic to the idea that the midrange iMac might have OK performance with a 24 GB Fusion Drive. At least it could probably boot quickly. I don’t think you need to benchmark the base model with the 5400 RPM drive to know that it’ll be slow.

Given the absence of empirical evidence then, I'd suggest we not be quite so absolute in our condemnation.

Kresten Jacobsen

Some anecdotal evidence here: My wife and I opted for the smaller iPhones sine I thought the upgrade prices was crazy. The phone was almost always full of images / video even though I set up a workflow to automatically offload them as we wanted to keep some on our devices.

Similarily with my parents, brothers and their wifes / girlfriends, only they didn't offload images automatically, so their phones got full even faster.

For all parties this was a bad experience and several have optet for other phones now.

Me? I (and my wife) got the 64GB model this time, but I still think the upgrade price is way to high...

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