Most handset vendors have a portfolio of devices that spans across multiple points. Said portfolio gets refreshed every 12 to 18 months. Apple on the other hand, they come out with one phone a year. Their “midrange” device is the iPhone from last year. And their “low-end” device is the iPhone from two years ago. But can the company go back even further? According to Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies, sources tell him that Apple will start selling the iPhone 3GS in emerging economies this year for somewhere between $250 and $300. To put that number into some perspective, you can buy an iPhone 3GS today for $375.
Now think about it for a second, how powerful is the “iPhone” brand? We’d argue it’s more aspirational than anything that’s come out of Nokia during the past few years. The Lumia 610, which is the company’s cheapest Windows Phone, goes for 200 Euros or roughly $255. Given the choice, what do you think someone in India would go for, the 610 or the 3GS? Exactly.
There are some issues though. Developers would have to support four generations of phones. There’s the aforementioned iPhone 3GS, the 4, the 4S, and whatever the new one will be called. Admittedly, making sure an app works right on four phones is a lot easier than testing against 400 Android phones. But still, it’s more work than developers are currently used to today. Also, you can’t make iOS apps unless you own a Mac, and they’re still too expensive for most people working in emerging nations.
When are we going to find out if this rumor is true or not? Probably when the 2012 iPhone is announced this fall. While that $299 price point is cool, $250 would be even better. Forgetting about the 3GS for a minute, imagine how cheap an iPhone 4 is going to be in just a few short months?
Watch this space.