Proposal: The Solar-powered iPhone would contain capabilities to charge both using the mains electricity and off the grid charging. With a solar cell built into the back case of the device, it could charge to full capacity within 12 hours of sunlight. The system ensures availability of alternative power in case of blackout issues as well as advances the global green initiative.
Advances in Mobile Phone Technology
The communication technology industry is highly dynamic, with new advances being made every day. However, there has been fairly limited development in the production of solar-powered phones. Most of the entities that have pursued this venture have produced low-end devices whose target market is often the third world. Such companies as Apple that are known for their high-end products have not sought such a venture yet. The Samsung Guru E1107 and the Samsung Blue Earth were the first recognized models to hit the market under the solar-powered label (Taylor). Nevertheless, since 2009, the entity has not pursued this venture further probably due to lack of popularity of the products. Even as mobile firms attempt reducing their global footprint through efforts at recycling, energy expenditure remains high. In Singapore, the subscription to mobile phone use exceeds the population of the country (Lim 43). The implication is that, on a global scale, energy expenditure on mobile phone charging remains high. Further, as high-end mobile devices increase in sophistication, they continue reducing their power capacity. The outcome is a probable situation where smartphone users are always worrying about dead phones, which hinders convenience. Therefore, the introduction of the solar-powered iPhone would be essential in ensuring convenience as well as facilitating environmental preservation.
The Solar-Powered iPhone and the Target Market
The target market for the new device includes the current users of smartphone and iPhone models. This segment is characterized by the willingness to explore new products as well as few limitations with respect to pricing. Most of the users are aged between 25 and 35 implying that they have access to a constant flow of income. They are also classified as the youth, which means trends and fashion are among the top determinants of their purchasing choices (Baig).
In an article in Forbes magazine, Anthony Leather elaborates how battery life should be the new battle ground for smartphones in this century. Undoubtedly, with the advancement of 4G connections and processing capabilities, smartphones have risen to the task of addressing the demands of the 21st century life (Leather). Unfortunately, the battery life of these devices is poorly suited to handle the life, with long charging hours and low capacity. Current Apple models are not performing any better. In late 2014, Apple had to recall most of iPhone 5 devices due to extremely poor battery capacity and long charging hours (Silverman). The iPhone 6S model has also reported dramatically short battery life, with variations occurring among individual devices (Brown).
The failure of smartphones and iPhones to cope with the power needs of the user prompts the need for an alternative source of power. The solar-powered iPhone compensates for the low battery life characteristic of the current models by offering the alternative of solar charging. The iPhone will have a perpetual energy reserve producing electricity by capturing ambient light. The back case of the phone is equipped with a cell, which has both photovoltaic and optical properties (Chanson). The case is transparent and ultrathin, and its production will vary to fit into the final shape and size of the phone model. With its power-generating capabilities, the phone will enable users to access applications even after their power from grid-charging is dead. It is notable that the solar-powered iPhone comes with all the capabilities of the current iPhone 6S. It can be recharged be means of the mains electricity using the solar power as the backup source of energy. This implies that the solar capabilities enhance the phone’s performance granting it an edge over the existing products in the market.
Existing Solar-Power Phone Solutions
The current market has a variety of solar-powered phone models. In 2009, Samsung launched two models of solar-powered phone. The Samsung Guru E1107 was the first model, but it was a low-cost phone that targeted the developing countries with erratic power grid patterns (Gera). Later in the year, the South Korean company released the Samsung Blue Earth, which had internet connectivity and some android capabilities. LG and ZTE also announced their prototypes in 2009, but they all were limited to basic capabilities and functions (Taylor).
Umeox, a Chinese manufacturer, introduced the world’s first smartphone in 2011, the Umeox Apollo (Solar Energy). The phone has all the capabilities of a smartphone including Bluetooth capabilities, a high memory, SD card, and a moderate resolution camera. However, more recently, Sun-partner Technologies and Kyocera Corporation unveiled their working prototype of a solar-powered smartphone(Chanson). The model is designed for rugged outdoor life and targeted at the sporty individuals who constantly face tough conditions.
The previous phone models, especially among the prominent firms, LG, Samsung and ZTE, provide some insights regarding the introduction of this new model. For instance, the products could not accommodate extensive capabilities due to the low battery life extension provided by solar charging. Some of the models may require charging for more than 12 hours of sunshine, which makes them impractical in the current market (Gera). Thus, the production of an exclusively solar-powered phone is incapable of handling the demands of the smartphone user. Additional issues include the limitations on the size and type of back case. While the models included optical capabilities, they may have had limited photovoltaic abilities(Solar Energy). These shortcomings enable improving the design of the new product. It will be unsuitable to introduce a product that is entirely powered by solar energy as this will limit its battery life. Instead, the combination of grid charging and solar energy will facilitate the accomplishment of a longer battery life, with the solar power acting as backup. Further, having a larger phone size and the combination of photovoltaic and optical qualities will enhance its solar capability. Anyway, a phone can only be so large meaning the size increment may not accomplish a significant change.
The introduction of a new product into an existing line of products reduces the costs of production, especially in regard to promotion and distribution (Kazmi 211). Therefore, specific approaches are necessary to determine the cost of production, thereby determining the pricing strategy that will apply (Johnson and Scholes 28).
The iPhone 6S currently sells for between $600 and $650 dependent on the manner of purchase or point of acquisition (Apple Inc). The production process will involve incorporation of an alternative system, which will enable the exploitation of solar power. In this regard, the eventual market price must consider the additional cost of production. Estimates indicate that the final market price should be about $200 above the price of the current models. Due to warranty specifications, the price could increase by $100 more. The result is an eventual estimate of about $900 as the final price of the product. This price will be unlikely to encounter opposition as the target segment is within the high end market.
The promotion and distribution will follow the current lines that Apple uses. In regard to distribution, the phones will be sold exclusively at Apple outlets. However, it is possible to get the device using online orders. The launch of the product will involve a special press conference, with the production unit present to explain its features. The conference will also function as a mini-show to enable iPhone users to view the new product. Instead of focusing on mass media adverts for general markets, the company personalizes promotion through global campaigns (Burns). For instance, the ‘Shot on iPhone 6’ campaign enhanced the brand loyalty among users and boosted popularity in the 77 countries it featured (Burns). Consequently, the promotion of the new solar-powered iPhone will focus exclusively on the use of billboards and online campaigns. In addition, it will make subtle use of television, such as brief advertisements on channels featuring the English premier league or popular news channels. This combination of promotional strategies will ensure that the new product imposes minimal costs on the production process while grasping wide publicity.
Direct and Indirect Competitors
Assessing the target market makes it necessary for the entity to anticipate the onset of competition (Chaffey 72). While the market for this new venture remains largely unexplored, it is possible that other firms will pursue the same after Apple launches its product.
The only definite competition in this area is currently the Torque prototype introduced by Sun-Partner Technologies and Kyocera earlier in 2015 (Chanson). The product has most of the components relating to solar powering that the iPhone seeks to integrate. At the same time, the company does not enjoy the popularity that Apple already does. The implication is that, while Kyocera may have to seek out markets, Apple will benefit from its existing client base and distribution approaches. However, a much greater threat may loom in the future for Apple’s new product. Samsung poses a major threat due to its alternative android technology as well as a wide range of phone products (Taylor). Further, the company already initiated the technology six years ago suggesting that returning such products with improved features to the market will not present a problem. As such, Apple will have to device ways of handling competitive pressure and avoiding losing its market share as was the case with its operating the current operating system (Kelly). It is vital that the product be devoid of any flaws thus denying Samsung any gap, of which to take advantage in the identified segment.
Social Changes and the New Product
Social changes and trends are integral to the determination of product suitability for a particular market. In the case with technological products, devices such as mobile phones are evolving to become objects of social status and represent identity (Lim). From another perspective, the awareness towards environmental issues is experiencing an increasing trend. The implication on technology companies has resulted in them being pressured to reduce their global footprint (Gram-Hanssen 67). The response of most firms has been through the provision of recycling options.
Against this background, the introduction of the solar-powered iPhone will be promoted by the current societal status and trends. An environmentally aware consumer is likely to appreciate the use of renewable energy in the new product (Sharma, Tiwari and Sood 936). Using solar power some of the time reduces the dependence on grid electricity effectively cutting back on the overall energy expenditure. Clean technology is rapidly becoming a popular concept, and combining it with high-end products will yield double benefits for the producer (Allcott 1085). The iPhone 6S has managed to garner popularity despite the issues relating to battery life (Baig). Thus, introducing an alternative approach to ensure that the battery lasts longer will only eliminate the misgivings people have regarding the product. The implication of these situations on the production process and market entry is mostly positive. It is possible that people, especially in the tropics, may not perceive the added solar capabilities as a particular advantage worth the extra cost. One way or another, the benefit of longer battery life is very attractive for the user to ignore. The market of high-end smartphones and iPhones competes on an application forum, but their constant failure has remained battery life. Introducing this product will revolutionize the arena creating a new level and perspective of competition.
The study presents the possibility of successfully introducing a new iPhone into the market, with the capability for solar powering. While this is not a new idea, it has often not been adopted due to issues with feasibility. Most of the issues involved the attempt to introduce an exclusively solar-powered mobile phone. The charging hours for such a device exceed the available daytime hours making such ventures unfeasible. However, with the combination of photovoltaic and optical technology, it is possible to present such a device. The shortcomings of an entirely solar-powered device are overcome through incorporating grid charging capabilities. This way, the solar power will function as backup energy and extend the battery life of the model.
However, some concerns may emerge in regard to choice pricing strategies for this device. The product will sell at about $900, about $300 above the pricing of the iPhone 6S. While pricing whims may not be dominant in the high-end segment, some clients may not perceive the solar power as sufficient benefit to pay the extra money. This restriction may limit sales compelling the firm to developing deliberate promotional strategies. Nevertheless, only the initial market reception bears the capability to judge this reaction among consumers.
Issues with social change and the introduction of the new device present a positive forum for this product. The current trends indicate more environmental awareness promoting users appreciating the use of clean energy. Further, the iPhone is among the trending items in fashion, which will make a new model with extra features a bonus. Consequently, the reception of the model will be highly likely to be positive enabling successful establishment and growth. In the long run, it is likely that more competitors will emerge with similar products. However, introducing this product will grant Apple the first-mover’s advantage and enhance its income for a considerable amount of time.