The iPhone 12 Mini Isn’t a Top Sellerand That’s Just Fine for Apple
There’s been a lot of chatter lately about the iPhone 12 Mini failing to reach Apple’s lofty sales goals, selling well below estimates and well below competing phones. At first glance, this seems like evidence that Apple got the small-phone trend wrong and possibly split its user base.
“Apple not only launched a wider range of new models than ever before, and also divided that launch into two pairs of models, so comparison to earlier launches is tricky,” said Josh Lowitz, of Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, in comments to MacRumors earlier this month. “In addition, Apple launched a new iPhone SE earlier in the year, further complicating the lineup.”
But is that the full story? Maybe not, I’d argue. The problem with the analysis is the time of year that we’re talking about: just after releasing a bunch of competing models of differing quality.
The small smartphone is a market closely associated with Apple in part because until the release of the iPhone 6 in the fall of 2014, the small phone was the only type of smartphone Apple sold. And the company continued to cater to this market with the release of the original iPhone SE in 2016. To highlight how the definition of “small phone” has changed over the years — the second iPhone SE, released about a year ago, is considered a small phone despite being the same size as the original iPhone 6, which was considered a significant size upgrade for Apple at the time of its release.
That Apple is accommodating a market it basically created but largely neglected for a few years is welcome news, and I think one reason it came back is that it left some users stranded. Like my wife, Cat.
Cat bought a smartphone only begrudgingly and went out of her way to avoid another upgrade. And she only upgraded from an iPhone 5 when I pointed out that networks like T-Mobile were rumored to be dropping support for older devices that weren’t built with more modern wireless bands in mind, making her older device a potential liability. (T-Mobile ultimately retired some devices but left iPhones alone.)
When Cat upgraded at the end of last year, she got an iPhone 12 Mini, because unlike the iPhone SE, it was similar in size compared to the iPhone 5 she was already using. But given how long she held onto her last phone, Cat wanted an upgrade that would ensure she could hold off a half-decade or longer on the disruption of another phone upgrade.