Since its initial launch, the iPhone has come in one flavor. Even with second and third generations, if you wanted to take the iPhone route, the only difference you would find between one iPhone and another was color and capacity. Word has it though, that will eventually change. A rumor from Bloomberg comes with a story that claims Apple is planning to manufacture a smaller iPhone, referred to as the iPhone Nano.
It is believed that Apple is making this smaller, cheaper version of their popular handset to help fend off Google's increasingly popular Android. One unique advantage that the little green robot has over the iPhone is choice. You can name the form factor you want, pick the carrier that appeals to you the most, and you can basically pick your price point, too. Even though the iPhone has officially been welcomed to the family at Big Red, you are still forced to choose out of two carriers, and there is one form factor and two set prices.
The iPhone has always been one of the most expensive phones on the market, leaving those who want to save a penny out of the loop. In terms of marketing and appealing to certain demographics, a smaller iPhone makes sense and the rumor appears to be believable. However, not everything seems to add up. It is said that the iPhone Nano – if it ever makes it to shelves – is projected to hit a $200 off-contract price point. I find this very hard to believe.
First, the two current iPhone 4 models retail for $649 and $749; the cheapest of Android devices run around $350 unsubsidized. These are typically entry-level devices made primarily of cheap, lightweight plastic. To hit such a ridiculously low price point, Apple would likely have to construct the body out of plastic and put a lower-res display on it; along with other things that just don't sound like Apple. The source states that Apple could hit the lower price by using similar technology to what is in the current iPhone rather than components from the newer version.
I remember a quote from a while back where Steve Jobs said, “We don't ship junk.” Yes, he was talking about computers, but this philosophy carries over. I'm not saying that the iPhone Nano would be junk, but considering that off-contract price point, I don't think it would be anywhere near the high quality people have grown to expect out of Apple. Based on what was said, I'm not convinced Apple would ship anything like that either. Jobs may be on sick leave, but he's still calling the shots.
Second, Bloomberg states, "Apple has considered selling the new iPhone for about $200, without obligating users to sign a two-year service contract, said the person who has seen it." The iPhone Nano is supposed to appeal to people who don't want to pay so much for a phone. A $200 tag isn't any cheaper than their full-sized 16GB iPhone 4 on contract with AT&T or Verizon.
While they're doing just fine for the time being, Apple has to be planning something. Becoming a sitting duck in the fast paced mobile world is the last thing a company wants to do. Rehashing the same phone year after year will only work for so long; it will have to adapt and evolve to target other demographics.
I know a lot of people that would love nothing more than a more affordable iPhone. That said, Apple could still be making a smaller iPhone without the $200 price tag. I'm not saying they can't do it, or that they aren't. But based on these specific rumors, it seems very unlikely.