Consumers have been whipped into a frenzy after a slew of analysts commented on the immanent arrival of the iPhone 5 earlier this week, but the latest prediction could make the Apple's phone family within broader reach.
RBC Capital's Mike Abramsky told investors today that it is likely that the arrival of Apple's next flag-ship iPhone 5 could push the prices of existing models down significantly. In the case of the iPhone 3GS, the phone that would become two generations old, that price would be free.
While a $49 iPhone is already available (AT&T), psychologically a $0 iPhone provides a compelling offer, writes Abramsky.
The analyst cites a survey taken June 7th to 14th, conducted by ChangeWave, of 1,500 respondents, in which they were asked, If the Apple iPhone 3GS became available for free ($0) but required a 2-year AT&T service contract, how likely is it that you would get a new Apple iPhone 3GS for yourself or someone else (e.g., a family member) in the future?
He observes, Survey data suggests 14 percent are very/somewhat likely to buy the iPhone 3GS for free with 2-year contract, exceeding buying interest for the iPad (13 percent) and original iPhone (9 percent).
Ironically, a free iPhone 3GS would add $7 billion of revenue to Apple, he believes.
The though of low-costs iPhones kicked off last Friday with Deutsche Bank's Chris Whitmore saying that Apple would try and fill the mid range of the cell phone market with an iPhone 4S this fall, with a prepaid calling option, alongside a fully-featured iPhone 5.
Toni Sacconaghi of Sanford Bernstein yesterday reiterated his view that at some point, Apple should try and offer a cheaper version of the iPhone.
But not everyone believes that.
BMO Capital's Keith Bachman Monday dismissed that view, saying there'll be just one new model of the iPhone come September, the 4S, will be a full-featured phone, not a simpler, cheaper model.