Just in case you forgot, Apple may introduce a relatively cheap, contract-free iPhone this year. Or not.
But Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore told investors that now is the time. He believes that Apple will launch a mid-range, pre-paid iPhone for $300 to $500 in September, Apple Insider reports.
This, Whitmore believes, is the fabled ‘iPhone 4S,” a new category of device released alongside the iPhone 5. Instead of resembling the iPhone 4, Whitmore thinks it’ll look like a low-end iPod Touch (pictured). If priced at $350, it could still provide Apple with a healthy profit margin while tapping a huge global market of pre-paid phone subscribers. He noted that out of 1.5 billion worldwide customers, two thirds are pre-paid users.
Although Whitmore’s remarks seem to be nothing but speculation, this isn’t the first time we’ve heard of such a rumor. In February, the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg reported that Apple was working on a smaller, cheaper iPhone that would work anywhere in the world. The New York Times contested that the phone would not be smaller, but would definitely be cheaper as a way to target the pre-paid market. Of course, all these reports cited anonymous sources.
I’m skeptical, if only because of little we’ve heard from the rumor mill on this front since February. Apple released an unlocked iPhone 4 for $650, but that’s mainly for world travelers who would otherwise spend lots of money on AT&T’s expensive overseas rates. If a cheap, contract-free iPhone was imminent, I’d expect to be hearing more rumors by now. The volume of iPhone 5 rumors, by comparison, is through the roof.
Whitmore is right on at least one thing: The pre-paid market is ripe for Apple’s picking. A contract-free iPhone seems inevitable, even if it doesn’t happen in September.