February 11, 2013
Analysts Certain A Cheaper iPhone Is In The Works
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
After more than 5 years, Apple has some very strong competition in the smartphone market. As such, many industry analysts have suggested that Apple should release a cheaper iPhone in order to compete in new and emerging markets. While Apple has never done anything which could be considered “cheap,” talk about such a low-priced phone has been strong in recent months.
In December, investment research firm Topeka Capital said they found a few prototypes floating around Apple HQ which could have been these value-packed iPhones. Today, they´re saying they´re sure of it, claiming that Apple could deliver one of these phones as early as June of this year.
"In late December, our research uncovered iPhones in different screen sizes for potential launch in May/June, allowing Apple to better bifurcate the market and pave the way for a lower-priced iPhone," writes Brian White, analyst for Topeka Capital in a note to investors, which has been obtained by Apple Insider.
White even offers up a few potential names for a low priced iPhone, such as the Mac-themed “iPhone Air,” or “iPhone mini.”
These phones are also expected to be made of plastic in order to bring the cost of goods down to an acceptable level. In addition to lowering the price, this plastic shell is said to make these phones even lighter than the existing iPhone 5.
"The case would be an interesting area of cost savings with a lower priced material (e.g., plastic) versus the aluminum unibody casing on the iPhone 5, while adding colors to excite consumers," said White.
It is worth mentioning that there have been several complaints on the web about the weight of the latest iPhone 5, with many saying the phone has finally become “too light.”
Apple has traditionally reserved colors for their iPod line. Adding color to the iPhone, while an often requested feature, could be an indication that Apple views this phone more as an iPod than an iPhone. Some have even wondered if this “cheap plastic iPhone” would be nothing more than an iPod Touch with radios.
When, or if, Apple releases this phone, it´s expected to be priced low enough to be an entrance into the iPhone world. Specifically, this phone is said to be aimed at emerging markets where subsidies do not exist and a $649 starting price turns potential buyers away.
According to White, these customers represent 60 percent of the smartphone market, meaning Apple essentially left a large chunk of money on the table.
"We believe a $250 to $300 price point for a lower-priced iPhone would make sense and 58 percent below the $649 price point for an unlocked 16GB iPhone 5," said White in his letter to investors.
"A $250-$300 price range would also be competitive with China-based Xiaomi that offers a high-end phone experience at a mid- range price of ~$320 in Chinas," he added.
The cheap iPhone rumors have become quite prevalent so far this year, with many analysts and pundits predicting Apple could also release a more expensive and larger iPhone later this year. A bigger, more expensive iPhone would compete head-on with Samsung´s entire line of greater than 5-inch phones and tablets. The majority of iPhone rumors to date also predict the next Apple smartphone isn´t due until August or September.