There have been quite a few reports and analyst notes to investors that have speculated on the possibility of a more affordable iPhone release. However, Apple’s marketing head did what he could to put a rest to the rumors in an interview with the Chinese language publication the Shanghai Evening News.
According to Apple’s Phil Schiller, the continued popularity of “cheap” smartphones in China and other emerging markets will not dictate the “future” of Apple’s line of consumer electronics devices, including the iPhone. Briefly describing the history of China’s handset market, Schiller illustrated that feature phones were initially the most popular for Chinese consumers, before entry-level smartphones took over in recent times. Despite this, Schiller said that “Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products. In fact, although Apple’s market share of smartphones is just about 20 percent, we own the 75 percent of the profit.”
Talk about a lower-priced iPhone has been rampant in the past few days, and has included two notes to investors from Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster. One of these notes forecasted a potential $6.5 billion revenue for Apple if it introduces a low-cost iPhone sometime in 2013. Also, Brian White of Topeka Capital Markets predicted that Apple may launch more than one smartphone in 2013, the so-called “iPhone 5S”, which will continue in the iPhone high-end tradition, plus another lower-end variety designed for consumers from emerging markets. Though it remains unknown whether Schiller’s comments represent Apple’s stand on budget-priced smartphones, it would be interesting to see how Apple plans to go about offering alternative products such as the iPad mini for customers who cannot otherwise afford high-end devices.
Apple has yet to make an official comment about Schiller’s interview, although the company did apparently confirm that the interview as indeed an official one.