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Apple likely to debut $199 iPhone as low-cost smartphone market hits $135B in 2013

post #1 of 70
Thread Starter 
A Piper Jaffray analysis of global unlocked smartphone prices solidifies the firm's expectation that Apple will launch a low-cost iPhone later this year, with the new handset purpose-built to compete in the untapped market estimated to be worth $135 billion in 2013.

White iPhone 4
Apple's least expensive handset, the iPhone 4.


Following up on his report from early January, analyst Gene Munster on Tuesday reiterated his stance that Apple is likely to release a more affordable iPhone targeting developing regions like China and India.

"We believe a lower priced iPhone will be a positive for AAPL shares for two reasons," he writes. "First, despite its lower margin, it should accelerate gross profit growth given the size of the low-end market (we estimate $135B in 2013); second, investors have historically bought into AAPL ahead of major new product releases."

By taking available pricing in six international markets ? Germany, UK, France, China, Brazil and India ? Munster was able to come up with a snapshot of the low-cost segment. He notes that the lowest priced iPhone, the iPhone 4, is still 133 percent more expensive than the global average for a low-end smartphone, suggesting Apple is only skimming the top of the market.

As for Apple's other handset models, the iPhone 5 is 19 percent more expensive than comparable flagship handsets from rival manufacturers, while the iPhone 4S is 48 percent more than mid-range devices. This means that Apple's biggest gap in pricing is between seen in the low-end segment.



"This low-end segment is important given we estimate it is a $135B market in 2013 that Apple is currently not participating in," Munster writes. He notes the sector will account for 60 percent of smartphones, or 540 million units at a $250 average sales price.

In the core markets of China and India, the cost of an average low-end handset is $138 and $140, respectively. The iPhone 4 sells for an average of about 265 percent more in those countries. A similar report on Monday said Apple could triple its share of the addressable Chinese market and add billions of dollars in revenue by launching a low-end device.

Munster expects Apple to debut an affordable $199 iPhone in the September quarter and believes the company could sell around 37 million units over the remainder of 2013. That number would jump to around 96 million units for 2014 and 170 million units in 2015.

Rumors claim Apple is working on a device for emerging markets, with the unit built from low-cost materials like plastic.
post #2 of 70
For sure there's a market, but Apple won't go there until there's a profit.
post #3 of 70

Just have Apple buy the entire low-cost smartphone market and shut it down. 1wink.gif

 

And no, it's no more "likely" now than when you analysts lied about it in the first place. I definitely see a $299 off-contract iPhone as possible, but $199 creates a problem of both profit and manufacturing.

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post #4 of 70
When iPhone mini comes out , soon the fuxking analsist will say it will affect the sales of iPhone and apple gross profit margin will decrease . Look at ipad mini , as soon as it comes out , AAPL keeps dropping .
post #5 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

They sell an iPod touch at a profit for $199, why not an iPhone? Reduce memory to 8GB instead of 16GB, smaller screen back down to 3.5" along with a plastic exterior and it could be done. Basically an updated, slimmed down 3GS with lightning connector in multiple colors. I am not saying Apple will or should do this, but I can at least see that it is feasible if they so chose. I think a much more likely price would be $249 to as high as $299 for such a phone. Even in this cheaper market segment Apple would still rather be the premium brand.

There are valid reasons for and against this move but I tend to side with Gene on this one. No reason to completely abandon a $135B market. Many of those people buying cheap phones today will buy flagship models in the future so why not get them into the Apple ecosystem and familiar with iOS now. It would also be popular for children and people without contracts or subsidies in developed countries as well. The shuffle didn't destroy the iPod brand, the mini didn't cause irreparable harm to Macintosh line and neither would a more affordable iPhone.

I agree with most of what you're saying here.  but I think the Nano hurt the iPod Classic quite a bit.  And it's going to be tough to design and iPhone that is a lot less expensive yet not completely cannibalize the flagship iPhone like the Nano did to the Classic.  I know Apple doesn't care about cannibalization from their own line, but the iPhone is the cash cow.  The only way they can do this is to rethink the iPhone for the emerging markets.  Maybe not by reducing build/material costs, but to rethink it in a way that just not as feature rich.  I've argued it your way and the opposite on other thread yet neither argument seems feasible for both an the flagship device to stick around and a less expensive version to emerge.

 

when I travel to China the most common phones i see in the subways and out are the 4"-5" smartphones, and the older crackberry candy-bar feature phones.  And the later is what Apple needs to re-imagine.  Not the Smartphones.  I don't think it's going to happen by just reducing the build-costs and material costs alone.  THe form-factor and features are going to have to be re-thought in order to find a less expensive solution without totally cannibalizing their flagship device.  And I DON'T think its going to be an iWatch or any other kind of wearable device.

 

Addition: I think the reason Apple hasn't come out with a lower cost, feature-light, device yet is even they can't figure out how to make a less expensive iPhone that doesn't take away from the flagship model.  I think they are probably spending a LOT of time trying to figure out how to do this, but coming up short.  How do you make an iPhone less expensive and give the same iPhone-like experience, but not completely obliterate the flagship device?  Ask yourself.  If you had the choice of an iPhone experience that was encased in Plastic or some other less expensive material, yet it does everything the flagship model does and is subsidy-free and $700 cheaper, why would you even consider the flagship model?  because you like to throw away money on something you'll replace in 1-2 years?  No, you'll buy the cheaper one, knowing it didn't cost you anything and it's easier to replace.  So then why keep the flagship model around?

 

It's going to have to be non-retina, smaller SDD, less expensive materials, lesser components.  and probably reduce the amount of Apps or even drop the App store all together.  But then, why buy it or even build one at that point?  So i think that's the problem Apple sees, and that's why I think they are going to have to NOT rethink a cheaper iPhone, but rethink a feature Phone.

 

I think this strategy could also work in the Western markets too.  Because in those markets.  Everyone that wants a smartphone has already made their choice.  It's saturated.  So those people now have moved to the iPad or Mini iPad for their secondary option.  THose (like me) now might be thinking:  "Well, I used to use my phone for everything, I have my iPad and/or Mini.  So no I use my phone for only a few things.  I don't need all of what my iPad does when i'm out.  I only use phone, sms, email and maps...maybe the occasional web browsing and games on the train...and this damn phone is costing me $90-$120/mo.  that's crazy!!!"

 

There needs to be some very distinguishing factors that clearly separate the flagship iPhone to this rumored less-expensive iPhone.  there has to be a compromise without sacrificing user experience.  If you simply just make the iPhone less expensive but put the same iOS in it, there will be no reason for anyone to buy the more expensive version.  Every Apple product line has clear separations between the models.  LIke the Nano to the Classic.  Much smaller, lighter, but very limited SDD.  The iPad Mini to the Classic, it's lighter, thinner, same experience, but no retina and slightly lesser processor.  The same goes with the MBP+r and the MBA.  Lighter, slower, no retina.  THey could go this way with the iPhone, but then they would have to drop the other iPhone models being sold.

 

So yes, the argument of keeping the same OS but reducing materials (lighter, thinner, lesser materials, processing power and lower quality components) could work, but in the case of the iPhone, I think it will go the same as the iPod Nano did to the classic.  Nobody bought the classic after the Nano came out.  the nano was almost the expendable iPod model.  If it broke, throw it for a new one.  I think it's going to have to be more than just materials and components that are the compromise.  At the price points we're talking about (the $99-$199 range) people replace these kinds of phones almost annually, sometimes quicker.  And really gives no reason to upgrade to something better.  IT's going to have to be like an updated iPhone Gen 1 for $199 vs. the iPhone 5 for $699.

 

What if...Apple made a phone that took away the traditional voice functionality and re-designed the Phone App to Data-only phone App with a iCloud phone number that could connect just like a voice phone App?  Google Voice basically does this already.  It works with Phone and SMS.  This could change everything.  Then there would be no need for the iPod Touch and the iPhone to both co-exist.  That might get some major push-back from the Cell industry, but it would be a bold move to the future of phones.  All Data.  No more Voice/Text.  Then, they could drop the Touch line and just have an iPhone line.  They could even update the iPod Nano with a mic. and speaker and there's your iPhone Nano.

 

I think now that more and more Cell companies (in the western world) are dropping the subsidies, the future is looking more an more to the All Data plan.


Edited by antkm1 - 2/19/13 at 11:03pm
post #6 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

They sell an iPod touch at a profit for $199, why not an iPhone? Reduce memory to 8GB instead of 16GB, smaller screen back down to 3.5" along with a plastic exterior and it could be done. Basically an updated, slimmed down 3GS with lightning connector in multiple colors. I am not saying Apple will or should do this, but I can at least see that it is feasible if they so chose. I think a much more likely price would be $249 to as high as $299 for such a phone. Even in this cheaper market segment Apple would still rather be the premium brand.

There are valid reasons for and against this move but I tend to side with Gene on this one. No reason to completely abandon a $135B market. Many of those people buying cheap phones today will buy flagship models in the future so why not get them into the Apple ecosystem and familiar with iOS now. It would also be popular for children and people without contracts or subsidies in developed countries as well. The shuffle didn't destroy the iPod brand, the mini didn't cause irreparable harm to Macintosh line and neither would a more affordable iPhone.

 

First, although they call it a $135B market, the market needs to be seen by it's profits, not it's sales.

 

Second, it's not just about cost of materials and manufacturing.

 

Apple has a product strategy that includes giving excellent product support, warrantee, and service, as well as integration with their other products. Few companies understand that when you go cheap on production, it cuts way into profits on customer service, support and warrantee fulfillment. Then theres the whole minimization of costs through production design and production design strategy. Essentially nobody else has a clue about this That's why they rush into these "huge" markets and promptly loose their arses. 

post #7 of 70

That's certainly an interesting idea.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post

What if...Apple made a phone that took away the traditional voice functionality and re-designed the Phone App to Data-only phone App with a iCloud phone number that could connect just like a voice phone App?  Google Voice basically does this already.  It works with Phone and SMS.  This could change everything.  Then there would be no need for the iPod Touch and the iPhone to both co-exist.  That might get some major push-back from the Cell industry, but it would be a bold move to the future of phones.  All Data.  No more Voice/Text.  Then, they could drop the Touch line and just have an iPhone line.  They could even update the iPod Nano with a mic. and speaker and there's your iPhone Nano.

post #8 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

They sell an iPod touch at a profit for $199, why not an iPhone? Reduce memory to 8GB instead of 16GB, smaller screen back down to 3.5" along with a plastic exterior and it could be done.

You're mixing some things up. The $199 iPod Touch is from 2010 and is already 3.5". You also need to consider the cost of the components and licensing for for the cellular HW.

Personally, I'd like Apple to do everything they can to get rid of the 3.5" size. I still have plenty of apps that haven't been updated to the 4" size.

If a low-cost iPhone is to hit the market I think it will be with China Mobile where the MNO has considerable leverage against the vendor.

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post #9 of 70

If the world average for low end phones is over $200 as shown in the article's chart, there is no way that Apple would price ANY iPhone at $200 or less. That is just not in Apple's corporate culture. Just for arguments sake, if Apple were to make a low end phone (and I sincerely doubt it) I couldn't see it being priced at anything less than $250; its sales would be pretty much limited to China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Indian sub-continent; and Apple might use some less expensive material but not plastic. Alternatively, when Apple introduces the next new iPhone, be it 5S or 6, they could just keep the old 4 around with a $250-$300 price tag but again with sales geographically limited. 

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post #10 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by waybacmac View Post

If the world average for low end phones is over $200 as shown in the article's chart, there is no way that Apple would price ANY iPhone at $200 or less. That is just not in Apple's corporate culture. Just for arguments sake, if Apple were to make a low end phone (and I sincerely doubt it) I couldn't see it being priced at anything less than $250; its sales would be pretty much limited to China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Indian sub-continent; and Apple might use some less expensive material but not plastic. Alternatively, when Apple introduces the next new iPhone, be it 5S or 6, they could just keep the old 4 around with a $250-$300 price tag but again with sales geographically limited. 

I'm sure Apple will lower the price to be on par with the average "smartphone" price just like they dropped their Mac notebook prices to be under $400 for the world average... oh, wait a minute. 1biggrin.gif

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post #11 of 70

No way Apple would do that. A small cheap plastic cheap plastik ugly iphone? No way. Where's the premium ( besides profit )?

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post #12 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by waybacmac View Post

If the world average for low end phones is over $200 as shown in the article's chart, there is no way that Apple would price ANY iPhone at $200 or less. That is just not in Apple's corporate culture. Just for arguments sake, if Apple were to make a low end phone (and I sincerely doubt it) I couldn't see it being priced at anything less than $250; its sales would be pretty much limited to China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and Indian sub-continent; and Apple might use some less expensive material but not plastic. Alternatively, when Apple introduces the next new iPhone, be it 5S or 6, they could just keep the old 4 around with a $250-$300 price tag but again with sales geographically limited. 

There are four problems with continuing with the 4 (or 4S):

1. They are actually expensive to make because they're made out of glass and metal. They can make a new phone at less cost, even considering start costs, and the cheaper phone may even be better (lighter, bigger screen etc).

2. They should standardize on the 4 inch screen, especially if they're going to eventually come out with a larger screen model.

3. They have to exterminate the old 30-pin connector and move to the lightning connector as quickly as possible.

4. The 4/4S almost require a case due to the glass back and density. They're small and heavy, thus fall hard. Adding a case adds to the price. A newer lighter phone using plastic could avoid the necessity for a case.

I agree that they will not come out with a cheap $199 phone. I even doubt they will go below $299. I do think though that the 4/4S phones will both be replaced this year.

post #13 of 70
People can always ship these phones around the world. There is no way they can be geographically restricted.
post #14 of 70
1wink.gif
post #15 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by SolipsismX View Post


You're mixing some things up. The $199 iPod Touch is from 2010 and is already 3.5". You also need to consider the cost of the components and licensing for for the cellular HW.

Personally, I'd like Apple to do everything they can to get rid of the 3.5" size. I still have plenty of apps that haven't been updated to the 4" size.

If a low-cost iPhone is to hit the market I think it will be with China Mobile where the MNO has considerable leverage against the vendor.

 

i prefer the 3.5" screen. though i see the writing on the wall... it's going away. any new iPod/iPhone will have a 4" screen, no matter how cheap it's going to be.
 

post #16 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by mocseg View Post

No way Apple would do that. A small cheap plastic cheap plastik ugly iphone? No way. Where's the premium ( besides profit )?

 

plastic doesn't mean cheap or ugly. apple has made several plastic products and none of them were particularly ugly. iMac G3/G4/G5/early Intel, PowerMac G3/G4/Cube, iBooks, most of the MacBooks, the AirPort line, AppleTV, many of the earlier iPods were half plastic.

 

All of these are/were great looking products. aside from the early MacBook's cracking palmrest, quality was top notch.

post #17 of 70

I doubt it! Apple said it on more than one occasion that they have no interest in low-cost smartphone market.

Apple sells its older iphone models for cheaper, anything less than that will be cheap plastic (garbage). Hence you have Samsung ;)

post #18 of 70
The iPhone 4S is available free or for less than a $100 with contract. So I am not sure why they would even feel the need for lower quality phone.
post #19 of 70
This is dumb.

Analyst also expected the iPad mini to debut at $199 which it obviously didnt.

As far as Apple making a feature phone, I don't see a market for that today. 5 years ago maybe but today smartphones are the norm and people expect all of that functionality.
post #20 of 70

I agree with what someone already said...I'm sure Apple is thinking about how they do a low cost phone that doesn't cannibalize their cash cow but at the same time isn't some cheap piece of crap.  That's why I think this Wall Street theory that Apple can just take the iPhone, put it in a plastic case and sell it for $199 unlocked is silly.  What's even more silly is thinking this plastic phone will have a 5" display.  I don't mind that Apple is taking their time and being thoughtful about this.  Wall Street be dammed.

post #21 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzz View Post

The iPhone 4S is available free or for less than a $100 with contract. So I am not sure why they would even feel the need for lower quality phone.

Where can you get an unsubsidized 4S for free or $99?  I believe a unlocked 4S starts at $450.

post #22 of 70
post #23 of 70
I've seen the 4S for about $80 with contract (can't remember where ) and virgin mobile advertises them starting from $0. with contract of course.

http://www.virginmobile.ca/en/phones/phones-summary.html?dType=deviceType_smartphone
post #24 of 70

It's déjà vu all over again. This is exactly the same refrain the "analysts" sang about how Apple had to get into netbooks: they are the future of computing, Apple can't leave all that money lying on the table, netbooks will be especially big in developing countries/emerging markets, Apple will definitely release a netbook any day now. This despite every indication from Apple to the contrary. I think most of them has simply done a search and replace in their netbook analysis and republished it as a cheap iPhone analysis. 

post #25 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by peter236 View Post

People can always ship these phones around the world. There is no way they can be geographically restricted.

 

Last time I checked Apple's website a year ago, about half the carriers around the world that sell the iPhone, sell it locked to themselves.  (It's not just AT&T that does that.)  

 

So a lower priced phone could be restricted by carrier, if Apple wanted.

 

Of course, there's almost always a jailbreak and unlock path.

post #26 of 70
I know this has been covered already, but why would you sell a lower margin product that would erode your higher margin product? If given the chose most would buy the cheaper over the more expensive as most see a phone as a phone.

And again, you can get an iPhone for FREE with contract so I don't see the need for cheaper than FREE. The only people not on a contract are not Apple's normal customer base in the first place.
post #27 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Richard Getz View Post

I know this has been covered already, but why would you sell a lower margin product that would erode your higher margin product? If given the chose most would buy the cheaper over the more expensive as most see a phone as a phone.

And again, you can get an iPhone for FREE with contract so I don't see the need for cheaper than FREE. The only people not on a contract are not Apple's normal customer base in the first place.

 

There is a way to get around this and make an iPhone that is $600.00 cheaper than the current one, but it's unlikely to happen. 

 

If Apple could do what everyone said they would do in 2007 and actually do something about the stranglehold the carriers have on the customers, then they could put a phone app in the iPads as well as in the iPhones.  

 

Then a lot of folks who don't actually need a f*cking smartphone at all can just use their iPads and thereby save the entire cost of an iPhone by not getting one in the first place.  

 

Boom.  Disruption.  

 

Of course it's unlikely because it means that Apple would have to fight for consumers interests in an area where doing so won't actually make them any more money so they probably won't despite all the high and mighty talk about customers first.  

post #28 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by DESuserIGN View Post

For sure there's a market, but Apple won't go there until there's a profit.

 

Profit is the second consideration. First is if they can make an item of quality. Apple isn't going to chase a price point with plastic casings, a nasty quality screen and a crappy battery. If that's what it takes to enter this cheap market they will stay out. Something they have publicly said and something the analysts just don't get. 

 

Personally I wish Munster, Wu, White etc would be fired already

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post #29 of 70
Quote:
And again, you can get an iPhone for FREE with contract so I don't see the need for cheaper than FREE. The only people not on a contract are not Apple's normal customer base in the first place.

 

Seriously? It's not "free"...it's subsidized through higher plan pricing. The rest of the world (yes, I'm in the U.S.) might disagree that because they purchase(d) their iPhone unsubsidized that they are not 'Apple's normal customer base.'

 

Take a look at this WSJ article:

 

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204653604577247471036145902.html

 

I pay full price for my phones and I use them on any carrier I choose and sell them anytime I want. I want a 2 year contract with AT&T like I want another hole in my head. I own my cars, I owe nothing on credit cards.

post #30 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Buzzz View Post

The iPhone 4S is available free or for less than a $100 with contract. So I am not sure why they would even feel the need for lower quality phone.

 

Because its $450 without contract so it doesn't work as well for prepaid focused markets. 

 

This iPhone cheap would $200 no contract, unlocked. Perfect for prepaid.

 

I say IF Apple ever did this it wouldn't be full featured. Voice, text and limited Internet like email and safari only. No FaceTime, no App Store. It would be designed as the 'jitterbug' model of the lineup. 

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post #31 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

No reason to completely abandon a $135B market. Many of those people buying cheap phones today will buy flagship models in the future so why not get them into the Apple ecosystem and familiar with iOS now.

How does Apple "abandon" a market (for cheap phones) it is not in?

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post #32 of 70
Apple don't care too much about self cannibalisation. They probably do care about market share. Everybody who buys the cheap iPhone is a future customer for the expensive one, and a present customer for the App Store and iTunes. Which will lock them in.

as for cannibalisation. The market for top end iPhones stays the same - high end consumers in rich countries on contract. The market for the lower end iPhone is off contract purchasers in poorer countries. Hard to see where significant cannibalisation would come from.
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post #33 of 70
The term feature phone is meaningless. Apple would have to do the same iOS features, more or less, minus the App Store.
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post #34 of 70

I heard that Apple is going to debut a low-cost iTunes store.

 

Albums are 30% cheaper, but you only get 70% of the tracks.

 

I am confident that This Will Happen!

 
post #35 of 70

I still don't get the plastic iPhone argument, how much more expensive to make is the aluminum case anyway, $200 more?  Using their unibody process I think it's more like $20.  And as they've done with iPods, they can be multi-colored even in aluminum.  I don't think Apple is going to go back to plastic and it has nothing to do with it not looking cheap - they have after all used plastic before and it didn't look cheap.  But the only thing going back to plastic now is going to accomplish is make the phone bulkier and/or reduce space for internal components.  That's a big price to pay just to shave a few bucks off the manufacturing cost.  And that's leaving aside the issue of the decreased durability and sturdiness of plastic.  And it isn't going to significantly reduce the weight over aluminum either.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

 

I still think a 3.5" plastic iPhone in multiple colors with a lightning connector makes the most sense and is the most likely. These phones would not need a case and would be great advertising since they would be so easily recognizable. They would be like the Camry or Corolla are to Toyota in the hopes that one day the customer switches to a Lexus.Then keep the current iPhone at 4" and hopefully offer a larger version of around 4.7" to 5.0" with a base price of $299 with contract subsidy. That would allow them to offer a $99/$199/$299 clean differentiation in price as well as screen size to avoid confusion. 

post #36 of 70

Perhaps AppleZilla would offer to be the manager of the new low-cost iTunes store?

Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

Don't you just love all the sarcasm on Appleinsider. Nothing like sarcasm to try and end good discussions.

 

 

post #37 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by gwmac View Post

 

Don't you just love all the sarcasm on Appleinsider. Nothing like sarcasm to try and end good discussions.

 

 

Yes, I love it. There is nothing I love better. 
 
post #38 of 70
Quote:

Originally Posted by antkm1 View Post
 

 and that's why I think they are going to have to NOT rethink a cheaper iPhone, but rethink a feature Phone.

 

Many in this forum (like myself) think this is the most likely possibility, though some are still adamantly opposed to this.

I like your logic.

 

I think that most sane people have come to the realization that the lower price point must be addressed, not wholly ignored because Apple is like [insert a luxury automobile company here].

post #39 of 70

I'm going out on a limb and say the iPhone for the low-cost phone market will be clear, whereby one will be able to see its inner workings. Lucite/Acrylic, maybe?There may be quite a few technical obstacles to overcome but.....it would look pretty cool, IMHO, and if any company can design a cool looking, functional device that shows off its inner guts, it's Apple.

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post #40 of 70
Originally Posted by drewys808 View Post
Many in this forum (like myself) think this is the most likely possibility…

 

MANY people here think they're going to completely abandon the reinvention of the phone that they did six years ago? Really? Many of them. Many people think that Apple will abandon the App Store and all its developers and revenue for the sake of a "feature phone". Really. 

 

So that's two; gotta have at least four for "many".

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