Will the New iPhone Come in Different Flavors—Like the iPod—to Boost Sales?

The newest iPhone may be split into multiple models to boost sales, according to two new sources. But rather than creating new hardware for each, Apple may split the iPhone's personality by releasing iPhones containing different software.

Apple iPhone Rumors that the iPhone would emerge in different formats stretch back over a year, with a focus on an iPhone Nano. Such a phone would keep the essential iPhone features, but in a smaller chassis and selling for a lower price.

But now a few hints have come directly from Apple management, and they genuinely point toward a fragmentation of iPhone versions. The first comes from a meeting between analysts from Oppenheimer and Apple execs last week. During the discussion, Apple revealed routes it was exploring for expanding the iPhone's market share: More functionality, lower prices, geographic growth and market segmentation with different models. This information was then presented by Yair Reiner, an analyst at Oppenheimer, to clients at the end of last week. 

All of these suggestions make perfect sense, and with a single offering on sale, Apple's exploration of the smartphone market is clearly in its early stages. The iPhone's high unit price is also a significant barrier to selling more. But Reiner later spoke to RegHardware and let a few more details slip. Apparently that key phrase "segmenting the market" would be concentrated not on hardware but on software instead. The core hardware of the phone would remain essentially the same between models, but enhanced software functionality would go into some versions, and simpler software into others.

This makes a different kind of sense: Keeping the core hardware the same simplifies production, and keeps costs lower. Accessory makers get to make common peripherals, and Apple's core software for developers would work on all the devices. Plus this jives with Apple's official quashing of the iPhone Nano hardware rumors a few weeks back.

But how would the software differentiation work? It's hard to imagine Apple shipping different firmware for each model since that would be overly complex. Can we imagine iPhones with different built-in functions, supported by software—one with a better camera, or one capable of video calling? It's daft to run too far with the musings of a single industry analyst. But these rumors seem to come from pretty deep inside Apple, and that lends them a degree of credibility. We hopefully haven't got long to find out if they're right.

[via AppleInsider, RegHardware

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8 Comments

  • Kit Eaton

    @Yozzo. It's a typical tech business practice--think of Sony's myriad of very very similar headphones, each with a confusing product number and hard-to-distinguish specs. I hope Apple doesn't end up going down this line, but if it does, I suspect George is close to the mark (and @George, I'm actually as skeptical as you.)

  • Yozzo Thai

    While it might make sense from a business point of view, it might not be the case from a user point of view. Samsung has been doing it for years now and recently giving them a backslash in Thailand.
    What they (Samsung) has done is similar to the idea described above. Making only a couple of handsets per year but shipping many. This mean that you’ll end buying a Samsung Y, thinking it is brand new but it isn’t, it its actually an old version from last year but with new design and for example FM radio but no MP3 player – while the original model X had the both MP3 and FM but at a higher price. Users in Thailand and vendors went back to Samsung demanding them not to sell old handsets on different names and flavors and a couple of Samsung CEO’s stepped down. Just because your wife puts on another dress and cuts her hair dosent give her more value - she is still the same old hag :-)

  • iPod Touch

    I don't have a real iPhone but I wanted to check out some of these new features on the online iPhone, but I can't figure out how to use the video recorder at http://interactiveiphone.com I tried going to the Camera App but then it wouldn't let me do anything else. Can someone help me?