Apple marketing boss Phil Schiller’s recent comments about a so-called iPhone mini have been welcomed by some quarters of the tech industry as a sign that the Cupertino company is not working on a budget version of its bestselling iPhone.
In an interview with the Shanghai Evening News, Schiller said that, “Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products. In fact, although Apple’s market share of smartphones is just about 20%, we own the 75% of the profit.” He had earlier commented that Apple would only ever use the best technology available for “every product that Apple creates.”
While it would be easy to see this as an outright dismissal of the iPhone mini, or whatever it ends up being called, Schiller’s remarks don’t actually deny that such a device is being worked on.
First of all, Apple would never call a cheap iPhone a budget device, even if it was. They don’t do so with the iPad mini, largely because while it’s cheaper than the full on iPad, it doesn’t sit in the same price bracket as key rivals. This will doubtless be the approach that Apple takes with a cheaper iPhone, pricing it above rival Google Android handsets yet still within the reach of those who want to spend less but still enjoy the Apple experience.
The idea of the ‘best technology available’ can be interpreted in different ways too. How about the best technology available for a budget smartphone? One that still sells for less than a top-end device but is notably better than a bargain bucket HTC or Samsung device? Apple will have looked into this and no mistake.
It’s of note that Schiller talks about profit and how much Apple makes from its 20 per cent share. Does the figure he refers to include apps as well? Because as Google’s share grows in China and other emerging markets, its profits are likely to rise with app and other downloadable sales. Apple won’t want to miss out on a whole load of new consumers and yet more profit simply because it only wants to make high-end handsets.
The iPad mini seemed like a fantasy after Steve Jobs trashed seven-inch tablets and said they were not fit for purpose. Any words coming from Cupertino about the future of a ‘budget iPhone’ should be taken with a huge grain of salt.