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An open letter is a good gesture, but if they really want to make a statement, Apple and other big companies would threaten to leave the states in question. What better way to say FU than to take away tax revenue. Since most conservative states want the US to be run 'like a business', why not speak the language of business.
I have the same grip as Neil even on the 5s and before. That pinky grip is useful when thumb typing texts. If you grip it as he showed with the SE, it's fairly difficult to thumb type because the keyboard is so much lower than the sweep of your thumb. I'm getting an SE but I know it's still not as ideal as the 3.5" screen iPhones.
single handed use is for a much more casual use case, but is also useful in many situations. Think about public transit. If you have to stand on the train or bus you will need to grip something with one of your hands. Maybe you have a bag from shopping in one hand? There are any situations where ergonomic single handed use is a necessity.
Despite this issue with the data, I'm not surprised by slow sales of the SE. My impression is that relatively few potential buyers are excited by improved specs - its an exciting new design that most people can't wait to purchase - and we sure didn't get that with the SE.