updated 11:25 am EDT, Mon March 31, 2008
Munster on Low Cost iPhone
Apple will kick off 2009 with at least one new iPhone model aimed at the budget realm, according to new predictions by Piper Jaffray senior researcher Gene Munster. The analyst expects Apple to have between two to three distinct iPhone models no later than January 2009 and also expects Apple to make its first efforts to branch out past the $400 mark. At least one model will ship at between $200 and $300, Munster claims. One of the three models is likely to be the now presumed 3G iPhone, which Piper Jaffray anticipates arriving between June and September with new features.
Although not necessarily likely to be used, Apple recently filed for a dual-sided trackpad patent that could potentially allow for a smaller-screened iPhone that uses a clamshell design instead of the larger bar design of the phone first launched in 2007.
This combined with rapid expansion plans should lead to a surge in overall sales over the space of the next two years, Munster writes. The expert sees potential iPhone launches in 2008 that could introduce the handset to Canada and Mexico in North America as well as Australia, Italy, and a first Asian launch in Japan. A Chinese release of the phone in 2009 may also occur if Apple is willing to relent on the exclusive deals it has set up in the past.
Should the expansion continue, the new markets could "effectively double" the potential market for iPhones every year and may help Apple sell as many as 45 million iPhones during 2009, according to the analyst. The growth is enough that the cellular business is considered Apple's most potential-laden business and may supercede other categories that the California company depends upon for its current success.
"The iPhone is the driver with the greatest potential," Munster says. "We believe the iPhone will replace the iPod as a driver of significant growth for the company."