I just had a disappointing palm-to-forehead realization: Apple’siCloud investments will reduce the pressure for Apple to increase thestorage space on the iPhone 6. I no longer have hope that the next entry-level iPhone 6 willstart at US$199 for 32 GB of storage.
I’m afraid we’ll be stuck yet another year with an entry-model iPhone 6 that will start at the $199 price point — with a carrier contract — offering just a paltry 16 GB of storage. To get 32 GB, you’ll need to shell out another $100 — $299 with a carrier contract.
There are all sorts of reasons why I find this realization both irritating and disappointing.
For starters, the iPhone is the world’s most popular camera. It’schanged how people take photos and changed how people store photos.Apple’s innovations with iCloud and its Photo app and photomanagement are giving the company an excuse to deliver millions of iPhones with dinky storage capacities. The new basic mantra is to start encouraging people to “fill their library, not their device.”
Of course, that’s not all bad. A lot of people don’t back up theirprecious photos — they live on their iPhone. If they back up theiriPhone regularly, that helps, but a lot of people don’t back up theiriPhones often enough.
Apple has an answer in iOS 8 coming this fall:iCloud and the new iPhoto app. They work together to let you storeyour photos on Apple’s cloud, seamlessly moving your library of photosto your iPhone and other devices. Instead of holding a full-size imageon your iPhone 6, your iPhone could store a smaller photo whileleaving the original full-size image in iCloud.
Right. I’m very excited about it. Except now that same innovation isanother excuse to keep the storage capacities the same — and charge apremium for anyone who realizes they need more.
A Long History of 16 GB
As it turns out, Apple moved its standard starting storage capacity to16 GB with the iPhone 3GS. That’s right — and you read that correctly:iPhone 3GS. When did the 3GS come out? 2009. So, for five iPhonemodels, the base storage capacity has remained the same, at 16 GB.
IHS has been tracking the cost of components in devices for years.Last year, it peggedthe bill of materials (BOM) and manufacturing cost for the 16-GB iPhone 5s at $199. The 32-GB model? A staggering $9 more — it has a $208 BOM and manufacturing cost estimate.
At the same time, the base storage capacity has remained at 16 GB, theiPhone camera has been producing larger, more detailed images andvideo, while consumers are using it more frequently.
Plus, there are apps. Graphically intensive games take up the mostspace, it turns out, but some apps gobble up space, too. Once youstart editing video and building new home movies, you can run out of16 GB mighty fast.
Why Not Trust Apple’s iOS 8 iCloud Solution?
iCloud requires decent WiFi connectivity to work. If you take your iPhoneon a weekend excursion with just one movie loaded on it, suddenlyyou’re likely to be in a photo/video management state paying attentionto how little storage you have left.
Then try taking a video of yourfamily playing on the beach — but lose the opportunity for the footage because you’re out of space. The moment is gone while you frantically delete stuff to free up space.
If you can use the carriers for data as you upload full-size imagesand video to iCloud, you’ll blow through your data plans, ultimatelyspending more yet again.
Or, you’re stuck offloading your photos andvideo to your Mac, PC or iPad — basically, now you have to plan tobring extra devices just to manage the data. This is the opposite ofenjoying an experience and using your iPhone to capture and share it.Which, I think is anti-Apple. The device should enable greatness,not end up requiring tons of thought and planning.
It gets worse, though. After the free 5 GB of iCloud storage, you’llget yourself into a cycle of paying Apple at least $0.99 a month formore iCloud storage, easily charged to your iTunes credit card-connected account.
Who’s Verse? That’s Apple’s Verse
Meanwhile, Apple is promoting iPads and iPhones with its “Your Verse”marketing program that shows people capturing cool stuff with theiriOS devices, often in far-off places in the world. Really? You getWiFi underwater? On the side of a mountain? So Apple isn’t delivering the best possible product here — Apple is delivering the least common denominator to consumers, mostly so Apple can retain higher profit margins.
In order to get enough storage, you have to be a reallysmart consumer at the time of purchase. While standing in line, you’ve got to imagine yourneeds not only at the moment, but also a year or two ahead.
If you’ve ever trod off the beaten path for more than a day or two,you won’t be able to count on your 16-GB iPhone to handle your photoand video needs.
What that means for me is that 16 GB would lead to apain-in-the-ass experience rather than a delightful one, so I’llhave to spend another $100, minimum, to get into a 32-GB iPhone 6 whenI sign another contract with my carrier.
Is that really such abig deal? Giving power users the option of spending more to get morestorage? Not exactly. Except when a whole new set of consumers startfinding themselves managing storage rather than enjoying theirexperiences.
Back in 2009, did anyone believe that we’d still be stuck with a baseof 16 GB in 2014?
Yet, here we are.
Of course, come September or so, when the iPhone 6 likely will berevealed to the world, the base storage for the flagship iPhone 6might actually be 32 GB. I certainly hope it is.
If you like to take photos and video on your iPhone now — and youthink you might spend more time editing home video on a larger iPhone6 screen — plan on spending more money on it. If we’re lucky,we’ll be happily surprised — but I’m not holding my breath.