I actually took the time to read this entire thread... and am surprised that so many people here just don't get why Apple should NOT be concerning themselves with an inexpensive iPhone.
My main reason: the 80% of the world that they are developing for, do NOT HAVE CREDIT CARDS... and I seriously doubt whether they will be purchasing App Cards either. Then: Apple ID? What for? These people are not going to be... nor are interested in any App Store... and certainly not one that is American/English centric.
Someone mentioned that an iPhone "Cheap" would have to come with an SD card slot: not going to happen, and even if it did, Apple would have to open up the system to allow side-loading of apps and entertainment. Just. Not. Happening. Because... for roughly $25.00 you can purchase an SD card with 100's of Android apps, games, movies, music, etc. already loaded on it... which works on a $50.00 PAYG Android.... but not on an Apple iOS device.iPhone is similar to iPod: not true!
You could always "side-load" your music as MP3's from alternative sources and/or your own ripped collection. You can NOT do this with iPhone Apps. Entertainment? Also not so easily for this 80%... because their phone is the only computing device they own. In BRIC countries, it's common to use Internet Cafés to load things onto your phone. How's that going to work with iTunes? Answer: it's not.
Could Apple make an inexpensive "feature phone"? Of course they could, and make a profit as well. But it would still not see the marketshare that the Droids have, because for the 80% mentioned above... ANY iPhone with iOS, Apple Store, and Apple ID
is NOT WANTED....even if it was completely FREE due to the "strings" I highlighted.Apple's strength with the iPhone is it's ecosystem. Period.
This is what needs to be understood in this debate. Take away the App Store and the far superior App experience... and it's just a freakin' phone... in fact, you may have a hard time even calling it a "smart phone" at all if you do that.
With that in mind, it is absolutely necessary to build on the App Store experience, flesh out a really great iOS 7, and build the next "super smart" iPhone
to take over the rest of the profits at the high-end of the market. Pull back some of those Samsung, HTC, Nexus jumpers with a far superior experience and useful modern features. If that ends up costing $600, $700 or even $1000,- for the end-user, in a western economy with access to mobile plans... So. Be. F****ing. It.
NOTE 1: regarding car analogies:
no one mentioned the disaster that Mercedes is still working on reversing, when they thought they had to go "down-market" with their products and thru purchases and "partnerships" in the 90's and Naughts. The brand suffered terribly, and is only recently starting to recover.
NOTE 2: just looked on Ebay.de:
new iPhone 3GS/16gb still going for €299,99. Please tell me again WHY Apple has to pull the rug out from under themselves to dev. an inexpensive, feature-crippled iPhone at US$300.-...!?!
NOTE 3: @antkm1
- on the right track with his post. A completely different approach and product, and not even called an iPhone.
NOTE 4: From The Register: Chinese iOS pirate Kuaiyong launches web app store. Bad news for Apple developers targeting PRC