Apple loves the rule of three. If you’re not familiar with what the rules of three is, it’s basically the idea that humans tend to remember information in chunks of three better than one, two, four, five or any other number. In fact, Apple loves it so much that every single Steve Jobs keynote was based around the rule of three. As Carmine Gallo, a columnist for BusinessWeek, explains in his book The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs:
Why Goldilocks Didn’t Encounter Four Bears
Listeners like lists. But how many points should you include in the list?
Three is the magic number.
Comedians know that three is funnier than two. Writers know that three is more dramatic than four. Jobs knows that three is more persuasive than five. Every great movie, book, play or presentation has a three-act structure. There were three musketeers, not give. Goldilocks encountered three bears, not four. There were three stooges, not two. Legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi told his players there were three important things in life: family, religion and the Green Bay Packers. And the U.S. Declaration of Independence states that Americans have a right to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” not simply life and liberty. The rule of three is a fundamental principle in writing, in humor and in a Steve Jobs presentation.
If you need a clear example, look no further than when Jobs launched what was Apple’s singularly most revolutionary product: the iPhone, in 2007. When Jobs paced around the stage on that day, he hinted what Apple was about to unveil by saying:
Well, today, we’re introducing three revolutionary products of this class. The first one is a widescreen iPod with touch controls. The second is a revolutionary mobile phone. And the third is a breakthrough Internet communications device. So, three things: a widescreen iPod with touch controls; a revolutionary mobile phone; and a breakthrough Internet communications device. An iPod, a phone, and an Internet communicator. An iPod, a phone … are you getting it? These are not three separate devices, this is one device, and we are calling it iPhone.
The crowd went wild. People screamed, jumped on their chairs and some even cried. Could Jobs have achieved the same effect without introducing the iPhone as a combination of three previous revolutionary products? Probably not.
The point is, the rule of three is hugely important – and especially so within Apple.
So that leads us to the iPhone 6…
The reason why Apple most likely cut the 32GB version from the iPhone 6/6 Plus line up is most probably because they wanted to simplify the product lineup… which would allow customers to make their decision on which iPhone they want faster.
If Apple had kept the 32GB version, but still introduced the 128GB version anyway, it would’ve violated the rule of three. There would have been four price points. And in the world of Apple, that’s a huge no-no.
But why cut the 32GB, and not the 16GB or the 64GB?
The 16GB version of the iPhone 6 is meant to appeal to a very tiny group of people: those who use it as a communications device, rather than entertainment. In other words, grandmothers, grandfathers and people recently graduating from feature phones. Beyond that group of people, the 16GB version is unfeasible and just downright stupid for just about anyone else to own. Therefore, by cutting the 32GB variation out and leaving only the 64GB as the next cheapest option, Apple is essentially forcing people to spend more. And since the memory of the phone is one of the cheapest components that Apple can easily mark-up, that translates to more profits in the bank for Apple.
Another way of thinking about it is this: the 16GB version is basically useless to most of us.
So what’s our next option?
Right, the 64GB!
The difference between the 16GB and 64GB memory chips is probably no more than $30 for Apple. But we the customers would have to pay $100 extra – and that’s great news for the shareholders of Apple!
In the course of reporting on the exclusive iPad Air 2 leak, sources within Apple told us that they knew they could only retain three price points. One of them would have to go, if Apple was going to introduce the 128GB version (which makes sense, in a world where people are consuming more and more of their content on their mobile devices). So we made a couple educated guesses. Apple could either cut the 32GB version, as they did with the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus (a pro-Wall Street decision), or they could could cut the 16GB version and make the 32GB version the next baseline (a pro-consumer decision). Apple traditionally has been more pro-consumer than they have pro-Wall Street. But as it turns out, we miscalculated and Apple decided to cut the 32GB version instead, which was disappointing. This is usually what happens when marketers, and not the product people, decide how something should be sold.