Well the iPods did it - why can't the iPhone. Particularly since Android is upping the ante in producing their own iPhone clone, at less cost. Steve Jobs and Apple have always been aggressive in slowing the advance of the competition. Anyone that can potentially steal marketshare and has the chutzpah to think they can build a 'cheaper and smaller' iPhone is going to get whacked in the trying. That's Apple's job (no pun intended).
Android iPhone-cloneHowever, since Apple has always been very secretive in revealing news about a new device before they are good and ready, the word on the street is once again speculative and circulating feverishly by rumor. In a Bloomberg report, it was noted that while Jobs is on medical leave, the development of an iPhone Mini is one of his pet projects. In his mind, less expensive iPhones will attract the segment of the market the smartphone is presently missing.
A cheaper iPhone would help Apple make deeper inroads into markets such as China and India, where many consumers opt for lower-priced devices that don’t carry long-term contracts. “Instead of targeting 25 percent of the global mobile- phone market, Apple would be going after 100 percent,” said Charlie Wolf, an analyst at Needham & Co. in New York, who has a “buy” rating on Apple shares.
Apple has gone down the marketshare road before. In 2004, with sales of the original $299-plus iPod still rising, the company introduced the $249 iPod Mini. In 2005, when the iPod Mini was an instant bestseller, Jobs discontinued it in favor of the cheaper iPod Nano. And this year, Apple began selling the latest version of the iPhone, the 3GS, for just $49, knowing full well that it could capture a lower income market that could not afford the iPhone 4.
And while many analysts were more concerned with features and release dates, The Huffington Post went so far as to speculate on the actual design of the new iPhone Mini.
Huffington Post speculates on iPhone Mini design
A miniature iPhone could also equate to a miniature price tag. Presently the cheapest iPhone 4 on the market today is available for $199, with a two-year contract. When and if the iPhone Mini hits consumer shelves, many are speculating that Jobs is shooting for half that cost - and Apple could release the new device as early as the summer of 2011, the sources hinted.
However, less cost also equates to less memory. According to an anonymous source at Cult of Mac, the Mini would most likely come with minimum integrated memory. In this report, Leander Kahney, noted that "by 'some' of the memory, we mean ALL of the memory. The iPhone nano will have no memory for onboard storage of media, our source says. It will have only enough memory to buffer media streamed from the cloud" - making it "mostly a cloud-based iOs." With no on-board memory, photos and video will have to be streamed UP to the cloud in real-time.
The latest version of the iPhone, the CDMA-enabled iPhone 4 that is compatible with Verizon's network, was released last week to a surprising minimal fanfare. However, the decision to go with another mobile company has broadened Apple's distribution channels with those dissatisfied with AT&T's service. It has also allowed the two telecom companies to fight it out amongst themselves for marketshare (see "Apple Sit In Catbird Seat While AT&T & Verizon Duke It Out Over iPhone 4 Prey") - while Apple reaps the revenue benefit of increased market reach.
Your thoughts readers? Is an iPhone Mini on the boards for a summer delivery or is this a lot of hype?