At a time when the existing iPhone 5 has proved to be one of the top popular purchases during this holiday season, making the analysts forecast that the device’s sales will eventually exceed Apple’s top-end predictions, rumors are also rife about the next iteration of the flagship smartphone, aka iPhone 6, but with a twist in the tale. New reports suggest that the company is working on a less-expensive iPhone model.
Speculations relating to a low-cost iPhone have been around for quite some time now. And on Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal chipped in, adding more credibility to the rumor. The WSJ report has said, citing “people briefed on the matter,” that the Cupertino tech giant is currently busy preparing a cheaper iPhone model, in an effort to introduce “a big shift in corporate strategy as its supremacy in smartphones has slipped.”
The report has stated that Apple has been exploring the possibility of producing a lower-end iPhone for years. The plan is in full swing and if everything goes accordingly, a less expensive version of the Apple iPhone will become a reality later this year.
How will Apple make the iPhone 6 cheaper, given that iPhone is one of the most expensive smartphones currently available in the market?
The report has cited one of the sources as saying that the low-cost iPhone could bear a resemblance to the standard iPhone but “with a different, less-expensive body.”
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“One possibility under consideration is lowering the cost of the device by using a different shell made of polycarbonate plastic; in contrast, the iPhone 5 currently has an aluminum housing,” said the report. “Many other parts could remain the same or be recycled from older iPhone models.”
However, the report does mention that there are still chances of Apple dropping the plan.
The WSJ report came on the heels of another report on the same topic from DigiTimes which said that Apple might come up with a less-expensive iPhone towards the second half of 2013. The report said that the new iPhone model would feature a larger display and “a brand-new exterior design.”
Now the question is whether a cheaper iPhone 6 can live up to Apple’s expectations and become a key profit-making machine. Although the company currently offers its iPhone 5 at a price as low as $199, the 4S for $99 and the iPhone 4 for free on a number of carriers, the handset is still quite expensive without carrier subsidies.
Cody Lee of iDownloadBlog believes that’s exactly where a low-cost iPhone will come into play. According to Lee, an iPhone model costing just $200 or $300 can be successful in markets like India and China where the no-contract prepaid plans are very popular among people.
“I don’t know that we’ll see it this year, as the article states, but I do believe that Apple has a less expensive iPhone in its labs. And if and when it decides to release the device, it’ll make a significant impact on its smartphone marketshare,” said Lee.
According to the WSJ report, with the success of cheaper smartphones running on Google’s Android operating system, Apple feels the heat and, therefore, faces the pressure to make its flagship smartphone more affordable for the masses.
A recent IDC report revealed that in the third quarter of 2012, Apple’s smartphone shipments dropped from 23 percent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012 to 14.6 percent worldwide. On the other hand, Samsung’s market share increased to 31.3 percent in the third quarter of 2012 from 8.8 percent during the same quarter of 2010.
Apple reportedly designed models of cheaper handsets prior to the launch of iPhone 4 in 2010. Although those phones were quite similar to the iPhone, they had a cheaper back and sides. However, the company dropped that plan as there was a prevailing idea among its executives that an additional iPhone model could make the manufacturing processes difficult. Eventually, it was decided that older iPhone models should be sold at a lower price that didn’t entail developing new models.