A Cheaper iPhone Is Indeed Coming [WSJ]

Apple reportedly shelved the idea in 2009 over manufacturing concerns

Apple’s plan to dominate the smartphone market is moving forward, according to people who have been briefed on the company’s low-end iPhone about to launch later this year.

An unlikely scenario for some, Apple’s launch of an inexpensive iPhone is said to occur sometime at the end of 2013.

People with knowledge on the matter tell the Wall Street Journal that Apple is likely to release a phone that isn’t very different from the ones it is selling today, design-wise.

However, the materials it will be made from are reportedly cheaper. For example, Apple might go with a plastic shell instead of aluminum – the material that the iPhone 5 enclosure is currently made of.

No technical specs are offered, and WSJ’s sources say nothing about a potentially bigger display, as claimed by DigiTimes yesterday.

We have voiced our own concerns that Apple would have a hard time making profits off a cheaper iPhone with a larger screen.

The Journal also reveals that Apple has been fiddling with the idea of a low-cost iPhone since at least 2009.

The company wanted to grab more market share then, just as it does now, but “Apple tabled the idea as some executives worried a second iPhone would complicate its manufacturing processes,” according to the report.

Instead, the company chose to keep older iPhone models on sale, at times lowering the storage capacity so that the company’s profit margins wouldn’t be impacted.

Apple’s rumored low-end iPhone is believed to be primarily targeted at China, where the subsidy model involving annual carrier contracts is not as lucrative as it is in the United States. Nor can people afford a $650/€500 factory unlocked iPhone 5 there.

Not surprisingly, Apple’s CEO is currently visiting the country meeting with government officials and perhaps not only.

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