While the ink on my latest mobile contract has barely dried, it seems like new smartphones have been announced on a near daily basis, all trying to carve out a niche in the market for themselves, or trying to take on the latest iPhone in the mass market. In the case of the latter, the market is starting to get very crowded with some tough competitors, making it tougher even for Apple to maintain the dominance they (read shareholders) have perhaps grown accustomed to over recent years. Tougher competition leads to lower margins and market saturation. These are the conditions that Apple has to deal with now, and perhaps that is what is fueling the many rumors around the next iteration of the iPhone(s); an iPhone that will come in more options than we are used to, including screen size, color, and price.
The next evolution of the iPhone
Recent speculation from amongst other Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities and Jefferies analyst Peter Misek have Apple already starting production of what so far seems to get the iPhone 5S label, an iteration of the current iPhone 5 model, retaining the same design, but with improved processor, possibly memory, and likely a new and improved camera with 13-megapixels and dual LED flash. They are all talking about a launch anytime between June and August for this new iPhone iteration, which is not unlikely given the historic release schedule for Apple, but slightly early compared to recent years announcements.
Read more! iPhone 5S UK buyers guide
None of this sounds farfetched, but is it enough to satisfy the early adopters/movers in the market to either stay (or return) to Apple, given the tough competition from the likes of Samsung, Sony, and Google? The answer might lie in the next evolution of iOS and not in the hardware itself, but more on that later.
A low-cost iPhone for the rest of the market
While Apple has so far stuck with the ‘one device to rule them all’ strategy, with the addition of the older model as a back-up, knowing well that most people will save up for the latest model, there are signs that their thinking is and have to change. The low-cost iPhone has been rumoured for years, but with WSJ weighting in on the subject, the rumours have suddenly become a bit more believable.
Before rounding up rumoured features of the low-cost iPhone, let’s quickly have a look at the long game so to speak. For a market leader like Apple, this has become a numbers game, so growing the number of overall customers is at the core. In more mature markets it will be harder to increase number of customers, so the game is one of improving customer lifetime value. However, there are still large growth markets out there, that a low-cost iPhone could potentially help Apple tap into. Plus, sometimes it is also about stopping potential competitors from diluting the overall value of the market, strategically using their brand to ‘kill’ an emerging category so to speak.
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Now, for the low-cost iPhone rumoured features, the expert opinion is divided. Some see it having similar specs to the current iPhone 5, but less powerful, and potentially using cheaper materials. Others seem to believe that it will have a larger screen (up towards 5-inches), which seems unlikely for a low-price offer, and it would also cause more fragmentation for Apple. Most seem to gather around the thinking of Horwitz over at iLounge, that we are talking about a device that takes some design inspiration from the latest iPod Touch 5 as well as the iPod Classic, and that like the latest iPod Touch model, it will have several color options.
A final iNote…
The above is of course just rumours, with a touch of my own predictions and thoughts on the topic. Apple might choose to do something completely different, and once again change how we think about a mobile phone, although that would be very surprising at this time. I’m sure any analyst and shareholder out there is hoping some kind of game changer from Apple to lift them back up into the stratosphere, and continue the growth that they have grown accustomed to. Perhaps the launch of some magic iBeans will do the trick?
And yes, whatever is coming next, it will have the Lighting Connector so get used to it!
[Image source: Yahoo News]