Apple will release two new iPhones come September, according to speculation from analyst Chris Witmore of Deutsche Bank: the iPhone 5 and the 4S. The idea makes sense, as it would allow Apple to simultaneously address both the mid-range smartphone market with a more affordable device while also providing a more expensive model for the high-end.
However, the theory appears to be nothing more than that: a theory. Meanwhile, a separate report from Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty states that production for the next iPhone will begin in August.
iPhone 4S: $349, Unlocked, Prepaid?
Witmore's prediction, published this morning on Fortune, comes from a note issued clients earlier today. The analyst says that now is the "right time for Apple to aggressively penetrate the mid-range smartphone market (i.e. $300-500 category to dramatically expand its [total addressable market] and market share." The iPhone 4S, priced around $349 unlocked, would come with a pre-paid voice plan.
Sounds like a great theory, let's see how that pans out.
For what it's worth, Apple already has a plan in place for addressing the needs of this more price-sensitive market here in the U.S.: the iPhone 3GS, offered for $49 at AT&T. For many first-time iPhone upgraders, the 3GS is a "good enough" phone for their needs. That means the more disruptive part of Witmore's (unsourced) speculation is the part of about a pre-paid voice plan. Now that would really get Apple into a new market: the part of the world where mobile users prefer to pay upfront for unlocked phones. This, says Fortune's Philip Elmer-DeWitt, includes regions in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
It's also the same market where low-end Android devices will compete alongside any Apple newcomer. According to a report from Juniper Research from January, there will be over 185 million entry-level smartphones by 2015. Shipments of these devices will be driven by operators who hope to boost data usage on their networks by offering phones running the Android OS, Juniper says.
In other Monday morning iPhone rumor news, Morgan Stanley's Huberty states that production for the next iPhone will begin in mid to late August and will "ramp up aggressively into C4Q." As for the rumored Apple TV - the TV set, not the media center box - that's still in the early design stages, she says.