For the past 6 years, Apple has been an industry leader in the creation of new smart phones. Quite simply the iPhone has transformed the smart phone market segment and change what consumers expect from their phone. However recently, the Apple iPhone has faced stiff competition from other large corporations like Google and Samsung. Google has created the Android operating system which has many great features and that combined with great hardware from Samsung, has eaten into Apple’s market share.
Samsung also managed to produce it’s hardware for a cheaper price than Apple, giving often giving consumers a slightly less flashy version for a significantly lower price. After all iPhones are great but they are very expensive devices. Recent rumors have indicated that Apple has realized this problem and might be changing tact – releasing a cheaper iPhone for small budget smart phone buyers.
This is a significant change for Apple, who have previously held a high quality at any cost ethos. They have never lowered quality to obtain more market share. Steve Jobs always valued quality over anything else and Apple products reflected that. From the iMac to the iPhone, Apple products just felt well built and of higher quality than the standard computer or mobile phone. Will this move into the budget phone arena indicate a change from their high quality standard? If that’s the case, gone will be the days of technology enthusiasts lining up around the block for products of a quality that only Apple could build.
Part of Apple’s problem is the fact that many of genius ideas have been replicated in cheaper products by their competitors. You can pick up any Samsung device and it will do 75% of what the iPhone does, but for as little as 50% of the cost.
What the build quality, specifications and design of a cheap iPhone would be like is all speculation at this point. But with the Jobs legacy still fresh in the mind of Apple designers and developers, it’s unlikely that this phone would sacrifice too much in terms of quality.
The best case scenario for Apple would be a phone that retains the Apple quality but comes in 25%-50% cheaper than the existing iPhone. The worst case scenario is a buggy iPhone clone that feels “cheap” compared to other phones and tarnishes Apple’s reputation for years to come. We will see in early 2013!