In a world where there seems to be "breaking news" on the next iPhone on a daily basis, this week there seemed to be even more than usual.
Industry insiders, analysts and even an Apple exec himself are lining up on opposite sides of the debate over a potential cheaper iPhone for emerging markets. After Apple's Phil Schiller appeared to debunk the rumor on Jan. 10, saying a less expensive product isn't part of the company's "product development direction," former Apple CEO John Sculley said this week that the Silicon Valley giant better think about overhauling its international strategy to keep up with the likes of Samsung.
“Apple needs to adapt to a very different world," Sculley told Bloomberg TV. “As we go from $500 smartphones to even as low, for some companies, as $100 for a smartphone, you’ve got to dramatically rethink the supply chain and how you can make these products and do it profitably." He went on to say that there's less differentiation between the iPhone 5 and other top smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S III than there used to be.
Meantime, all eyes continue to be on a potential release date for the next iPhone, which most are referring to as the iPhone 5S. The latest opinions point to June or July, meaning there would be only nine months or so between hardware updates rather than the traditional twelve (although Apple only waited 11 months between debuting the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5).
Jeffries' Peter Misek said this week that Apple will start production in March and start selling the device in "mid-summer," Computerworld reported. Misek also said we might continue to see "incrementally improved" models of the device going forward – think the iPhone 4S vs. the iPhone 4 – which we could assume might mean more frequent updates. Global Equities Research's Trip Chowdry is also on board with that thinking, saying a "technology shift is happening at Apple," the article quoted him as saying.
Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities is in line with Misek and Chowdry, but he goes as far to predict that Apple will deliver both an iPhone 5S and a re-worked iPhone 5 – possibly at a lower cost – in June or July. The 5S, he says, will have an improved processor, a camera upgrade and a cool fingerprint sensor behind the home button for added security, MacRumors noted.
The other big news this week was a report that Apple is cutting orders for iPhone 5 parts, damaging enough to take Apple's stock price below the $500 mark. But Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu said demand for the device "remains robust," adding that the order slash results from improved yields, meaning Apple simply doesn't need to place more orders, Apple Insider reported.
And finally, ABI Research released a report saying Apple's smartphone market share will peak this year at 22 percent. That's "barring an unlikely collapse in Samsung's business," the firm said, noting that the Korean manufacturer's market share grew from 8 percent to more than 30 percent in 2012.
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