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商业 - 科技

苹果在iPhone X上错在哪里

Mohanbir Swawhney 2018年02月05日

iPhone X的亮点没能吸引足够消费者,却让iPhone 8和8 Plus黯然失色。

苹果公司遇到了定价困境。据报道,由于销售增速不及预期,苹果计划将iPhone X目标产量削减一半。如果降低iPhone X售价来刺激销量,苹果就有可能损失利润和高端形象。如果仍按1000美元的单价销售,这款旗舰产品的销量就有可能令人失望。

之所以出现定价问题,是因为苹果将产品线一分为二,一边是乏善可陈的iPhone 8和iPhone 8 Plus,另一边则是定价高得多的创新产品iPhone X。这一策略副作用很明显——iPhone X的亮点没能吸引足够消费者,而iPhone 8和8 Plus比起iPhone X的Face ID、OLED屏幕等创新功能立刻黯然失色。

如果降低iPhone X售价,苹果可能也要被迫下调iPhone 8/8 Plus的价格,以保持iPhone X的高端定位。如果三款产品全面降价,可能大幅削弱盈利能力,同时也等于苹果承认新定价标准设得太高。

那么,苹果可以采取哪些措施呢?一个方案是采用“汽车经销商策略”,即在销售渠道中提供激励手段,威瑞森电信、美国电话电报公司、T-Mobile和百思买等经销商可以推出一些特别套餐,比如200美元的“特别”激励性折扣。在汽车经销领域,这是新车销售的主要方式,折扣和特别优惠可以降低购车成本,但不会拉低标价。通过销售渠道提供折扣后,苹果仍然能宣称以1000美元卖出了手机,这是其他手机厂商想都不敢想的价位,而消费者也弄不明白折扣出自何处。iPhone 8和8 plus的打折幅度可以小一些,比如分别下降100美元和150美元,这样既可保持价差,还能促进销售。

要说明的一点是,高档或独家产品制造商通常不允许销售渠道在标价的基础上大幅打折。举个例子,以Canada Goose羽绒服几乎从不促销,也不通过在线折扣零售商销售。“从不促销”则向来是路易威登宣传品牌的口号。如果买iPhone X不用1000美元,还会有优越感吗?

不过,渠道折扣对手机来说并非没有先例。三星经常做短期促销,Galaxy 8手机就在假期购物旺季推出过特别打折活动。问题在于,这样做销售渠道可以把控折扣。零售商可能从苹果争取200美元优惠后给消费者折扣减半,其中100美元放进自己的腰包。

价格还不是iPhone X的唯一问题。苹果本打算将其打造成巅峰产品,命名时都直接跳过“9”系列。苹果还想借iPhone X为手机功能设立新标准,可以说目标并未实现。Face ID非常创新,使用也很顺畅,但支撑不了1000美元的价格。OLED屏幕很美,却并不新鲜。作为苹果供应商,三星所有手机都已采用OLED屏幕(讽刺的是,苹果销售不佳意味着三星也会受创。据说三星为iPhone X提供一块OLED屏幕可以赚得110美元)。

iPhone X还有个令人讨厌的设计硬伤,为Face ID app设置的“刘海”打破了无缝OLED全面屏的整体性。毫无疑问,以后苹果推出新款手机时肯定会想办法修正这项尴尬的设计。因此我们要问,9月份苹果发布下一批新产品时该怎么做?

苹果需要升级iPhone 8和8 Plus,而不是保持“二分”市场。三款产品都可以采用OLED屏幕,或者全都加上Face ID功能。苹果还可以保留iPhone X(或后续产品)上某一项高端功能,同时配备6英寸或更大的屏幕。关键在于改进iPhone 8和8 plus的功能特性,然后将标价分别提高50和100美元。这将让iPhone X保持高端吸引力,同时缩小iPhone X和其他“小兄弟”产品在功能和价格上的差距。(财富中文网)

汉比尔·绍尼是美国西北大学凯洛格商学院教授。

译者:Charlie

审校:夏林

 

Apple, which reportedly plans to cut its production target in half for the iPhone X because of slower-than-expected sales, faces a pricing dilemma. If it cuts the price of the iPhone X to spur sales, it risks compromising its profits and premium image. If it sticks to the $1,000 price point, it risks disappointing sales for its flagship phone.

Apple created the pricing problem when it bifurcated its product line into two sets of phones—the ho-hum iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus and the innovative iPhone X priced at a huge premium. The move has clearly backfired: The bragging rights for the iPhone X aren’t attracting enough customers, while the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus pale in comparison to the X’s innovative features like Face ID and OLED screen.

If Apple cuts the price of the iPhone X, would also be forced to lower the prices of the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus to preserve the premium position of the iPhone X. Lower prices for all three would be a big profitability hit, as well as an admission that Apple stretched too far when it set a new price benchmark.

So what can Apple do? One option is to adopt the “car dealer strategy,” by offering incentives through its sales channels so that sellers such as Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Best Buy , and others could offer special deals—for example, a $200 “special” incentive discount. Such discounts are the backbone of new vehicle sales in car dealerships, with incentives and special offers that make buying a car cheaper, without lowering the list price. Offering discounts through the sales channel would allow Apple to claim victory on selling a $1,000 phone—a price point no other manufacturer had the guts to even think about implementing—and consumers would never be the wiser as to where discounts originated. Smaller dealer discounts, such as $100 or $150, could be offered on the iPhone 8 and 8 plus, respectively, to keep the price differential, and boost their sales, as well.

One caveat is that makers of premium or exclusive products don’t typically allow significant discounts off the list prices in the sale channel. Canada Goose parkas, for example, rarely go on sale and aren’t sold through discount online retailers. Likewise, Louis Vuitton adopts a “never goes on sale” mantra as part of its branding. Would an iPhone X that’s not purchased for $1,000 still have the same cachet?

Nonetheless, channel discounts are not unheard of in mobile phones. Samsung often will do periodic promotions, such special discounts for its Galaxy 8 phone over the holiday shopping period. One wrinkle, however, is that the sales channel would control the discounts. It might be possible for a retailer to take the $200 discount incentive from Apple, pass along $100 in savings to the consumer, and pocket the other $100.

But price is not the only problem for the iPhone X, which was meant to be so superlative that Apple skipped right over “9” in its numbering. Apple also tried to set a new benchmark in functionality with the iPhone X, which arguably has not materialized. Face ID is very innovative and works well, but it is not enough to justify a $1,000 price. The OLED screen is beautiful, but it’s not new. Samsung, Apple’s supplier, uses OLED screens in all its phones. (Ironically, Apple’s sales disappointment also means a hit for Samsung, which reportedly makes $110 per iPhone X for supplying the OLED screen.)

The iPhone X also has an annoying design glitch: a “notch” for the Face ID app, which interrupts the seamless, edge-to-edge display of the OLED screen. Apple will undoubtedly find a way to correct this awkward design feature in future releases of its phones. This leads us to the question of what Apple should do when it unveils its next suite of products in September.

Instead of perpetuating the bifurcated market, Apple needs to upgrade the features of its iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. It could adopt OLED screens across all three products or it could put Face ID into all its phones. It can reserve one of the premium features for the iPhone X (or its successor), as well as offering a larger screen measuring 6 inches or more. The key will be improving functionality and features for the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, and then raising their list prices by $50 or $100, respectively. That will keep the iPhone X as an aspirational product, while narrowing the feature and price gap between the iPhone X and its smaller siblings.

Mohanbir Sawhney is a professor at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

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