updated 11:25 am EST, Fri February 13, 2009
Tiered iPhones, plans?
Apple and its American carrier partner, AT&T, are looking at diversifying the pricing tiers for next-generation iPhones, claims Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu. Citing industry and supply chain contacts, Wu suggests that Apple is having difficulty not with developing new technology, but in devising options cheaper than the iPhone 3G, which costs a minimum of $200 plus another $70 or more in monthly voice and data fees. The sheer expense of the phone has become a problem in the context of a global recession, says Wu.
Economic troubles are believed to have convinced AT&T that cheaper iPhone plans may be tolerable, and that it needs to find a way of coping with the loss incurred from heavier bandwidth users. Together AT&T and Apple are said to be exploring the concept of second and even third iPhone models, splitting the iPhone market in manner similar to iPods. Accompanying new iPhones would be different featuresets, with plans for light and heavy data use; a rumored plan would include no default web browsing allotment, instead providing exclusively for e-mail and SMS messaging.
Three iPhone models are described as in "a fairly advanced development stage," waiting for approval from Apple to progress further. One is believed to have a smaller 2.8-inch screen, but may not be released for some time due to Apple interest in making software the distinguishing feature of the near future. The 3.5-inch size is expected to dominate until Apple can find a means of acquiring comfortably smaller touchscreen technology.
Leaks and rumors surrounding future iPhones are accelerating with the approach of summer, when Apple has traditionally launched major iPhone revisions. Most recently it has been suggested that an iPhone with a matte back may be in the works, which would move away from the glossy plastic used for the iPhone 3G. The original iPhone relied on anodized aluminum.