Late last week iLounge published a report claiming that Apple is working on a low-cost iPhone. Today iLounge released a follow-up report on the matter, and fleshing out some of the details. They now claim that this rumored device will be constructed mostly of plastic while taking design cues from the iPhone 5, new iPod touch, and the iPod Classic.
Specifically, they claim that from the front, the low-cost iPhone will look nearly identical to the iPhone 5. Larger differences can be seen from the sides. For instance, the volume buttons will no longer be round, but revert back to the rocker style button found on the iPhone 3G/3GS.
The iPod Classic influence will be seen as curves of the rear edges of this new iPhone. The back and sides of the device will be flat, and the curves will be distinct, not curved all the way back as can be found on the iPhone 3G/3GS. As for the edges, they will reportedly share features from the iPhone 5, but design cues from the new iPod touches.
Apple is undoubtedly gearing up to fight for marketshare, and their answer to that fight might very-well be a lower-cost iPhone. But I doubt it. What is often forgotten, is that we already have a “lower-cost” iPhone. In fact, we have two. An iPhone 4 for free with a two year contract, and the iPhone 4S at $99 with a two year contract.
They are perfectly good phones, so why does the rumor mill insist on reporting this? I’m not sure, but if I had to guess, it stems from a mentality that dates all the way back to Apple’s beleaguered days in the mid 90s. At that time, many pundits believed that Apple needed to become a manufacturer of commodity computers, like Dell and Compaq, which were very successful companies at the time. I think the same mentality is seeping into the mobile computing market as well. After all, Samsung is making a boatload of money being a commodity smartphone manufacturer. What I think get’s lost here is that Apple is raking in profit share while still offering a free on-contract iPhone, which is still an excellently crafted, powerful smartphone.
In short, a lower-cost iPhone makes no sense to me, especially since Apple already offers a low cost device. Just not one that was specifically designed and built to be cheap, and I think that is what the market analyst and the rumor mill are getting hung up on.