And you thought iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 were code-names for exactly the same thing, a fifth-generation iPhone… Taking the rumor mill reporting to the next level, Katy Huberty with Morgan Stanley is calling for a late September launch of the next-generation iPhone, with production kicking off in August. So far so good: The time-frame jibes with various tidbits we’ve been hearing from Asian component suppliers for some time.
But check this out: It’ll be two phones, speculates Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore in a note to clients this morning. One will be a modest upgrade sold contract-free and unlocked at aggressive price points, the iPhone 4S, and the other is a substantial, superphone upgrade, presumably to be named the iPhone 5. Whitmores rationale:
With Nokia and RIMM struggling, the time is right for Apple to aggressively penetrate the mid range smart-phone market (i.e. $300-500 category) to dramatically expand its [total addressable market] and market share.
One problem: The $349 price point Whitmore mentioned for the iPhone 4S ain’t exactly what we’d call inexpensive, especially compared to the sub-$200 Android cheapos, like the $150 Huawei Ascend contract-free smartphone.
A fairer comparison would be the 4.1-inch Motorola Triumph, an Android 2.2 smartphone arriving contract-free on the Virgin Mobile network for $300 later this month. So, if Motorola is able to put together a nice mid-to-high-range smartphone and sell it unlocked, Apple should be equally capable to tweak and polish up the current-generation iPhone 4, call it the iPhone 4S and sell it for about the same price as the Motorola handset. There are lots of folks out there who prefer pay-as-you-go plans over lengthy contracts. Following the fall of Symbian, the mid-range prepaid market is up for grabs. With that in mind, it makes perfect sense for Apple to have a product to go after that segment. Conceivably, Tim Cook told analysts in January 2011 that Apple didn’t want the iPhone to be “just for the rich”.