Is a cheaper iPhone in the works?

Published: February 26, 2010

As if we needed more iPhone 4G rumors... Apparently, this new handset is going to have a front-facing camera, allow video chat, work with keyboard accessories, boast more storage and fix my coffee in the morning. (Not that the current incarnation is anything to sneeze at. How many gadgets do you know that can beat extreme cold?)

This latest item from Apple Insider is less about specs and hardware though, and more about the ducats: The site sources a prominent analyst — one Ms. Katy Huberty from Morgan Stanley — who believes that the next version will cost less to buy and own than the others did at launch. In fact, she asserts that the large expense is the reason that the iPhone hasn’t been adopted even more widely in the States or abroad, especially in places like China (which has had a pretty ho-hum reaction to the Apple device).

The analyst points out that the old wallet takes a pretty huge beating, both for the handset and the service plan. Apple simply has to address this, she says, if it truly hopes to take a larger marketshare globally.

In a letter to investors, in which Huberty also references gesture control (probably based on a related application patent from Apple that surfaced), she says, "We expect Apple to launch new iPhones in June that offer both a lower total cost of ownership and new functionality, potentially including gesture-based technology."

On the price issue: Well, I can’t argue with the fact that the iPhone isn’t exactly a cheap proposition. But I don’t think price alone is the only barrier here. First, even when the 8GB iPhone 3G dropped down to $99, the more expensive 3GS models were still selling like hotcakes. Second, when it comes to mass adoption in other countries (especially Asia), mobile television — which the iPhone lacks — is very popular and even quite ubiquitous. So the phone’s lack of built-in TV tuner is actually a negative. And lastly, let’s not forget about Android and WebOS (and soon Windows Phone 7 Series). Even some of the most die-hard iPhone enthusiasts can be found salivating over these platforms’ ability to multitask, among other things.

So slashing prices would probably help, but I’m not sure it’s the panacea Huberty thinks it is. Not that I wouldn’t welcome a less expensive iPhone. And I’d love to see Cupertino follow the pattern it set with the iPod, with various models priced to please both the stingy and the affluent. Then again, some of us have been waiting (in vain) for years to see the iPhone Nano to Pro range, so I’m almost afraid to pin hopes on this yet again.

But one thing’s for sure: If there was ever a time to unleash a family of iPhones, it would certainly be now.

Via: PhoneArena, AppleInsider

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