When the first generation Apple iPhone hit the market, it was not available with any kind of carrier subsidy. As it a result, it was being sold as a premium phone at a premium price. When the second gen came around (iPhone 3G), many wireless providers around the world started to offer discounts when you signed a qualifying contract. This brought the price down to a more reasonable level, but what if you wanted an iPhone that was even cheaper.
Taking a look at the iPod lineup from Apple, you can see that they have an iPod for just about any budget. With this in mind, why is it that the team in Cupertino has yet to put together a slimmed down, budget-minded version of the iPhone for people who don’t want to spend that much money? Yes, I know that you can get an iPhone for $199 with contract, but how about an ever cheaper model?
There were some rumors earlier this month about a $99 iPhone 3G that would be sold through Wal-Mart. From what we could tell, the features would be much the same as the 8GB and 16GB variants, but it would only have 4GB of storage. I think a lot of people would be willing to sacrifice a little storage capacity to save a hundred bucks.
That rumor was later dashed, but you’ve really got to wonder when (and if) Apple would consider such a proposition. Given the quickly dropping price of technology, they wouldn’t have to cut too many corners to offer something more accessible in this dwindling economy.
The possibility of an iPhone nano is really intriguing, because it’s only natural to see the iPhone lineup mature and expand in much the same way as the iPod line. Along the way, we were introduced to the iPod mini, iPod nano, and iPod shuffle, along with the main progression of iPods, so why doesn’t Apple do the same for the iPhone? I don’t know when or how, but they should do it.
For some people, the iPhone is still too big. Yes, smartphones are more popular than ever and people are getting used to larger devices like the Helio Ocean, Samsung BlackJack, and T-Mobile G1, but there’s still a market for something smaller and more pocket-friendly. Research in Motion did it with the Pearl line. The HTC Touch and Touch Diamond are smaller than previous HTC WinMo phones.
The BlackBerry Pearl and Pearl Flip introduced the BlackBerry brand to a lot of people who wouldn’t have otherwise considered the Curve or the Bold. They don’t want something so big, so expensive, and (possibly) so intimidating. Believe it or not, some technophobes are still intimidated by the iPhone.
It’s totally up to the designers at Apple to come up with a more compact version of the iPhone. We could see something as simple as the iPhone nano, which would still take on a similar bar-style form factor, but would have a smaller screen. Alternatively, they could take the Pearl Flip route and offer a clamshell-style iPhone. The flip phone is still one of the most popular styles of phones, especially among “regular” consumers.
If Steve Jobs has been enjoying all kinds of success and raking in all sorts of dough with the current iPhone and iPhone 3G, it would only make sense to further capitalize on this interest and expand the lineup into other segments in the market. A slimmed down iPhone for $0 with contract would fly off the shelves.
To achieve this price point, Apple could easily remove a few lesser used features like the GPS navigation. People don’t expect GPS from a free phone, but they’ll be wowed by the touchscreen, the accelerometer, the web surfing, and all the other great things that have made the iPhone so popular.