iPhone SE is here and perfectly matches the essential points outlined in October:
- NFC background tag reading in place for new Apple Pay features going forward.
- Touch ID that removes the Face ID face mask problem in markets like China and Japan, this issue has been constant blind spot in the western tech press, until now.
- A13 Bionic for superior battery performance and Express Card with power reserve
- Cheaper battery friendly Haptic Touch instead of the more expensive battery hungry iPhone 8 3D Touch.
And the budget price. The iPhone market position in Japan stalled with iPhone XS/XR as government pressure took away carrier rebates that had driven iPhone sales. The Japan market, like markets everywhere, was ripe for an updated entry level iPhone, but the Touch ID plus A13 Bionic combination is especially potent right now because of the face mask situation in the COVID-19 crisis, and social distancing driving people away from hard cash towards contactless payment use. Touch ID is still the best and stress free experience for using Apple Pay on iPhone. The secret sauce is A13 Bionic that delivers superior Suica Express Transit performance along with power reserve, and much more.
So what kind of user is the new iPhone SE aimed at? The Apple Store trade-in page suggests a big divide at the iPhone 7 Plus point, there is more resale demand for Apple Pay Japan compatible devices.
The challenge for Apple and carriers in Japan is getting pre-Apple Pay Japan iPhone users to upgrade. Many iPhone 6/6S users took the opportunity to get a cheap battery upgrade from Apple during the iPhone performance throttling brouhaha. A big reason why these users have been hesitant to upgrade is the Face ID with face mask issue. This is the dominate issue now for Face ID iPhone users, my own observation is that many people in Japan just turn it off and use passcodes.
Now that iPhone SE solves that problem with top tier Apple Pay Japan features and performance it will be very interesting to see how it plays out. We are already seeing signs that contactless payment use is growing in Japan because of COVID-19 social distance issues. As Tomo Hagiwara of Aquabit Spirals puts it…unfortunate success, behavioral transformation in action. This could be the most important Apple product launch in 2020.
iPhone SE will be a very big unfortunate success.
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