After iPhone SE kills Android: 5 other ways Apple can crush rivals with budget products

After iPhone SE kills Android: 5 other ways Apple can crush rivals with budget products

This month, Apple — responding to the never-ending cries of the technology press — introduced a powerful, entry-level iPhone. Starting at $399, the highly disruptive iPhone SE uses a variant of the company’s highest-end mobile processor, the A13. This is significantly more potent than any mobile system on a chip offered by Android manufacturers, even besting Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 865 used on devices with $1,000+ price points. 

If that wasn’t bad enough news for Android, the iPhone SE’s single-lens primary camera produces images of comparable photographic quality to those produced by the main camera on Apple’s most expensive device, the iPhone 11 Pro.

In effect, it’s an Android killer. And there’s absolutely nothing the competing OEMs can do to respond. Why would anyone shopping for an inexpensive phone upgrade throw good money out the window on a far less capable Android at the same or even higher price points?

If Apple can disrupt and kill Android, who else can it wreck with lower-priced, highly capable products?

iPod Arcade

In the “zero development time required” department, and for our first victim, we have the entire handheld entertainment device industry, with folks like Nintendo and its Switch, which has an MSRP of $299. However, due to the high demand for the device, it is sold for more than $499 in some places.

How simple would it be if Apple were to remove the baseband electronics from the iPhone SE and pair it with an arcade controller “sled” similar to what is used on the Nintendo Switch? 

Apple could easily price the iPod Arcade, sans controller sled, for $200 — the current iPod Touch price. It can discount that model at $129 or less. 

Arguably, Apple did not sell a lot of iPod Touch devices, but the current model is underpowered compared to what’s essentially an iPhone SE with Wi-Fi-only capabilities. Apple could price the sled for $100 and include one year of Apple Arcade — normally $4.99 a month — for free. Of course, the iPod Arcade, being a plain iOS device, would be able to run every single application in the App Store, as well.

Nintendo, Nint-dead-o.

iCam

With everyone sitting at home and needing to use video conferencing tools for the foreseeable future, many of us are seeking higher-quality webcams for use with desktop PCs and Macs.

Frankly, many webcams now on the market integrate poorly with Macs and come with sub-par software utilities. Only Logitech and Microsoft appear to be shipping high-volume webcam products. 

Also: CNET: Webcam reviews

Apple could easily take the same wide-angle 12MP camera sensor used for selfies on the iPhone 11 and put it in a small clip-on housing with USB-C/USB-A connectivity, LED illumination for nighttime use, and a decent mic, and have it plug-and-play with not just the Mac but potentially an updated Apple TV. Apple could even put FaceID sensors on it in a more advanced model.

Apple could charge $99 for the basic model and $199 for the FaceID version. And, yes, Apple could make it work on Windows, too. Finally, Apple could add a beefed-up FaceTime for handling corporate video calls and price that as a value-added-service.

It was nice knowing you, Logitech.

Airpods SE

Apple already has a line of lower-cost headphones than AirPods and AirPods Pro, with the Beats by Dre line. However, the least expensive product in that line costs $149, the Powerbeats. That’s an in-ear product designed for more of a mobile and outdoor lifestyle, and the least expensive over-the-ear product is the Beats Solo 3 at $199. 

Also: Best wireless earbuds for business: AirPods and alternatives

The company needs an on-ear product in the $99 range, potentially something with basic-level active noise cancellation. (At home, why would you even need noise cancellation, for the most part?) This budget product should still fit comfortably, allow for better ear ventilation so you don’t get sweaty, be designed primarily for home use, have a mic on each side to respond to Siri commands, and be good enough for casual FaceTime or Zoom usage.

Good $99 on-ear headphones optimized for general content consumption for non-audiophiles would put tons of weird off-brands from China out of business. Even a company like Anker, which makes some excellent value products with its SoundCore line, would have trouble competing with Airpods SE. 

Sorry, Anker.

Apple TV SE

I don’t know about you folks, but I am sick of the streaming boxes that can’t do anything other than stream movies and TV. It’s about time for Apple to do a complete refresh on Apple TV 4K, which currently costs $199.

Look, competitors to Apple TV such as Roku are selling devices for as cheap as $30 for their low-end device and $99 for their highest-end models. Amazon’s highest-end Fire TV is a whole $119, and it’s a great device, too.

Don’t get me wrong; I love my Roku Ultra and my Fire TV device. But you know what would utterly destroy them both? A $99 Apple TV with the A13 chip so we can play Apple Arcade games. Pair it with a $50 Apple Arcade controller, and it’s a done deal. 

Also: Best streaming devices: Apple TV, Roku Ultra, Fire TV Stick, and more

I don’t even need a 4K version; a 1080p version at that price point would be excellent because I don’t give a damn about 4K content. Let’s face it: If this shelter-at-home lifestyle goes on indefinitely, and the content delivery networks remain overwhelmed, we will all have to live with throttled bandwidth that won’t reproduce 4K material accurately in most homes.

Roku, nice knowing you.

Apple Watch SE

The Apple Watch Series 3 is already a good deal at $199. But do you know what would be an even better deal? A $149 Apple Watch SE. This would compete well with the Fitbit Versa at the same price point. I think it would demolish it.

I foresee this device coming in a single size (38mm), made out of plastic and rubber (like the CASIO G-Shock devices of old), with a non-replaceable band.

Also: Wearables and services to help you stay fit and focused while on lockdown

It would be Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-only and have a heart sensor, but no ECG. I’d like to see Apple introduce blood oxygenation sensors, such as those used in Pulse Oximeters (which are currently in short supply due to recent revelations that COVID-19 patients can die from silent pneumonia). Still, realistically, I see those being made available in the more expensive models.

Fitbit, shmitbit. 

Would these lower-cost Apple products completely disrupt their competitors at these configurations and price points? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

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