My normal reaction to the deep dark hole that is iPhone rumour stories is to get Lewis to write them, but it's a new year and all that so I thought I'd get my hands dirty for a change. He'll get the next Elop piece in exchange.
Anyway, he's partially already covered this one, as it's about Apple SVP Phil Schiller seemingly playing down the likelihood of a budget iPhone seeing the light of day, as was suggested a couple of days ago.
Schiller was speaking to the Shanghai Evening News this week – some of Apple's senior management are over in China right now, where the iPhone launched for the first time late last year. And while he didn't reference the budget iPhone rumour directly, Schiller's comments (verified by The Next Web before publishing, unlike with other recent translations) certainly seem to aim a fair-sized bucket of cold water in its general direction.
“Every product that Apple creates,” Schiller is quoted as saying, “we consider using only the best technology available. This includes the production pipeline, the Retina display, the unibody design, to provide the best product to the market.
“At first, non-smartphones were popular in the Chinese market, now cheap smartphones are more popular and non-smartphones are out,” Schiller added later.
“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.”
It's hard to reconcile those remarks with the recent claim that Apple is planning a “smaller, cheaper” version of the iPhone for “developing nations”, a title which China would fall into as far as Apple's market position is concerned.
And compared to the original claim – in fact, compared to 99% of iPhone rumour stories – this one is actually based on comments actually made by a senior figure at Apple (and verified as accurate).
That said, China is obviously important to Apple (as it should be), and despite the iPhone having reportedly been better received than the company was expecting, the drive to expand its reach to a larger audience will always lead to the potential for cheaper product options in the future.
But truly going after the low-end smartphone vendors that are currently doing such good business in China would involve Apple having to change its production process and choice of materials, not to mention its approach to product branding and marketing, and as Schiller seems to be pointing out, that would run contrary to the principles that have made the company so successful in the first place.