More speculation about possible $99 iPhone

Rumors of a $99 iPhone have been running rampant on the Internet. Some experts are on the $99 bandwagon now, too, believing that 2009 might be the year for Apple to increase its lower-end market share.

A recent post on Barron's Tech Trader Daily suggests that Apple plans to "attack the low end of the smartphone market" by offering a $99 version of the 8GB iPhone.

According to Barron's, RBC Capital analyst Mike Abramsky believes that Apple will reveal updated 16GB and 32GB iPhones at the Worldwide Developers Conference on June 8 (as expected), keeping $199 and $299 price points. The article suggests that "Abramsky thinks even an evolutionary upgrade will drive a healthy upgrade cycle; he estimates 20 percent of the 21 million iPhone-installed base will upgrade within the first year."

But the most interesting part of this report reads:

The company could leverage its component and manufacturing efficiencies by offering an 8GB version of the phone at $99, down from $199 currently. He thinks the result could provide a major lift to unit demand, with 5 million additional iPhones in FY 2009, and 22 million in FY 2010.

Additional information about this story was also posted at AppleInsider, reiterating the rumor that there will be new models of the iPhone, but that Apple would split the iPhone into regular and "pro" editions.

According to AppleInsider:

Next month's Apple Worldwide Developers Conference will see the introduction of an "iPhone Pro" that will sell for $199 and $299 with storage capacities of 16GB and 32GB, respectively. Inside, he [Abramksy] expects a new 3G wireless chip capable of connecting to wireless networks that support download speeds of up to 7.2Mbps, a 600MHz Samsung ARM processor, 3.2-megapixel camera with video capabilities, a magnetometer, and other features already found on the current iPhone 3G.

RBC Capital Markets

It is also noted that "Apple will continue to sell its existing iPhone 3G in an 8GB configuration, only pricing it down to $99 from $199 in a bid to broaden its share of the worldwide smartphone market, boost its multitouch install base, and poke holes in any price umbrella rivals may seek out in their own bid for market share."

The iPhone hasn't really been around long, and in order to gain market share, Apple may well consider introducing different models, lowering prices, adding more features, and growing geographically. ( China would be a good place to start.) All this could be accomplished with a $99 starting price.

We know that you've heard the $99 iPhone rumor before--including after Walmart started selling the iPhone --and never seen it materialize. What do you think this time around? Would you be interested in a $99 iPhone? Share your thoughts in the comments.

 

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