The competitions are gathering strength, and it is more imperative for Apple to tinker with its business model and release a cheaper iPhone version this year, which a number of analysts have been suggesting.
But how cheap a tag price is Apple willing to swallow for its flagship smartphone? More appropriately, in the event the iPhone Mini becomes a reality, is Apple ready to shock the industry by selling its quality wares with a dirt-cheap price level?
Noting that the tech giant is overly protective of its operating margin, analysts said that Apple is likely to repeat the iPad Mini approach - sticking to the core quality offerings of its gadget, which means no significant corner-cutting in the iPhone Mini production, and ensuring that the margin remains in solid position.
Most likely, affordable for Apple is a smaller iPhone that consumers can buy at starting price of no less than $US250, BGR News said in a report, citing the consensus from most industry experts.
Such move, however, will hardly make a dent considering the emerging industry trends in which device manufacturers are forced to offer both entry-level and high-end handsets in order to capture wider spans of the market, the same report noted.
For Apple to really shake the industry, which analysts said is the need of the hour, the company needs to go below the $US200 mark, possibly go as low as $US150 for an iPhone Mini with the following specs: 4-inch display screen, capacitive touchscreen, a single-core processor with decent speed, 2GB+ of storage capacity and a not too-shabby camera shooter.
"Anything under $200 would be an earthquake (for the industry) . . . That device would sell a hundred million units in a year with no marketing, if the production can be ramped up fast enough," BGR said.
Admittedly though, pulling down too much is not that easy for Apple. It has to consider that low-end components are not exactly compatible with the present form of its ecosystem.
Another major worry is the likelihood that overall sales of the high-end iPhone, replicating the scenario seen when iPad 4 and iPad Mini was simultaneously launched. The bigger iPad almost went unnoticed, analysts said, its sales subsequently suffering.
But the benefits are also enormous for Apple. Its iPhone Mini, possibly geared for the masses, will likely spell the demise of struggling mobile device players like Nokia and BlackBerry, BGR predicted.
Also, with many more able to access the iOS world, Apple is more equipped to reverse the gains that Google's Android has been collecting.
And one big bonus for Apple, with most of the competitions weakened, the company can focus a big chunk of its energy for the epic one-on-one battles with Samsung, which is highly tipped to retain the global smartphone leadership for Q4 2012.
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