"With Nokia and RIM struggling," wrote Whitmore, "the time is right for Apple to aggressively penetrate the mid-range smartphone market (i.e. $300-500 category) to dramatically expand its [total addressable market] and market share."
In other words, Whitmore is sort of resurrecting the iPhone Nano rumors, only it won't be called the iPhone Nano and it won't be smaller. Instead, he believes the mid-range version will be called the iPhone 4S, and the high-end version will be called the iPhone 5. Where the iPhone 4S will be a lightly revised version of the iPhone 4, the iPhone 5 will be a brand new device.
The idea of an iPhone Nano--a smaller, cheaper iPhone--floated around the Internet for years. The entire reason for Apple to make such a device would be to help it penetrate more markets. By offering a smaller phone that's more affordable, Apple could gain new customers.
The same theory applies to Whitmore's iPhone 4S. This supposedly cheaper device would be a prime candidate for the prepaid market. Whitmore thinks the price would be approximately $349, and the device would be available unlocked. This could help Apple conquer some of the 1 billion people across 98 countries who prefer prepaid services to postpaid.
Speculation of what Apple will announce in September has been rampant for six months or more. This year is the first since 2008 that Apple has broken its annual June refresh cycle for the iPhone. It has been suggested that Apple is delaying the iPhone 4S/5 (or whatever they'll be called) because iOS 5 isn't ready yet. Apple's new system software is prepared to debut this fall. Whatever the reason for the delay, the September launch date has been cited consistently.
What's the potential impact for enterprise customers?
The iPhone 5 is apparently lined up to be the iPhone 4's successor. Businesses that need to arm their mobile professionals with powerful smartphones will likely choose this device, as it will be the more capable of the two when it comes to processing power, wireless technologies, and so on. But that doesn't mean savvy businesses should count out the iPhone 4S. The idea of a slightly lower cost device might appeal to budget-constrained IT departments.
Consider that the full retail price (without carrier subsidies) of the iPhone 4 is $599 or $699, depending on the model chosen. With carrier subsidies--and two-year contracts--the iPhone 4 costs $199 or $299. The iPhone 5 would probably demand similar pricing, but those two-year contracts can be killer. The iPhone 4S, however, at $349 with no contract requirement sounds like a bargain.
Is this how things will play out? Obviously, no one but Apple knows for sure.
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