updated 09:10 am EST, Wed January 14, 2009
UBS on 4GB iPhone
Apple is in the midst of building a new lower-cost iPhone that is helping the company manufacture record numbers of the handset in the first quarter of the year, according to UBS analyst Maynard Um. Specifying only "checks" within the industry, the financial expert claims an iPhone with 4GB of storage is in the works and is helping Apple boost the number of phones shipped to 7 million in the first three months of 2009. The figure would just the 6.9 million achieved during the iPhone 3G launch and potentially gives an edge over RIM, which sold 6.7 million BlackBerries through the late summer and early fall.
Details of the alleged new model are unknown; as-yet unverified rumors have pointed to an iPhone nano in progress for a June release, though a separate rumor has also alluded to a 4GB, full-size iPhone that hasn't materialized according to these unofficial plans.
Um nonetheless describes the 4GB model as potentially important; while it may cannibalize some sales that would go to 8GB models, he estimates that the likely significantly lower price would add about 1.5 million extra sales for customers who might otherwise resist today's $199 base price.
The UBS analyst is more cautious about the just-ended holiday quarter and warns Apple may have shipped less than 5 million iPhones despite the traditional seasonal spike. Macs may help Apple remain on target through both the launch of the new unibody MacBooks and a slew of reseller discounts.