You can’t swing an iPod touch on a lanyard without hitting someone who believes Apple will ship a lower-cost iPhone soon. Here’s the pertinent trilogy of arguments.
Benedict Evans: “Defending iOS with cheap iPhones”
Ben Bajarin: Customer Acquisition and the Entry Level iPhone”
John Gruber: “The Case for a New Lower-Cost iPhone”
Evans suggests an inflection point — where the high volume of Android users is finally catching up to their relatively lower worth — is forcing Apple to defend the iOS platform. Bajarin correctly notes that Apple doesn’t want just any ol’ customer, they want customers that are engaged in the ecosystem. Gruber completes this game of Hollywood Squares by arguing that Apple’s not going to make a lousy phone that’s missing important features. It’s just going to make a lower-cost, full-featured phone (iPhone 5C), retain the iPhone 5 and introduce a new, premium phone (iPhone 5S).
Personally, I don’t see how this, or at least something very similar to it, is not exactly what’s going to happen. The iPhone is now on all major carriers in the U.S. Apple needs to move down the cost spectrum to bring more customers — still good ones — into the iPhone fold while defending its high-end turf. The same is true for the iPad.
There is never going to be a fire sale on iOS devices, but Apple can afford to open up its offering to fuel continued growth and defend its platform.