I was always wavering on the 3G idea:
Imagine an LTE iPhone 5C sold to post-pay carriers, and a non-LTE iPhone 5C sold at a significantly lower price to the rest of the world.
Still, this is the prediction I’m the most uncertain about. After all, the additional cost of LTE is a cost that will assuredly decrease over time, thanks to Moore’s Law and Apple’s scale, and Apple’s operations are predicated on decreasing SKU complexity, not increasing it.
The RF360 chipset [from Qualcomm] offers support for all seven cellular modes, including LTE-FDD, LTE-TDD, WCDMA, EV-DO, CDMA 1x, TD-SCDMA and GSM/EDGE. If deployed in a next-generation iPhone, Apple could launch a single “universal” handset instead of the company’s current three-model lineup.
Of particular interest is the chipset’s TD-SCDMA operation, as the standard is used by the world’s largest cellular provider by subscribership China Mobile. While Apple has yet to ink a deal with the telecom, many analysts believe a partnership will be a major boon for the continued growth of Apple’s iOS platform.
As I wrote, Apple highly values a simplified product line; 3G-only is not just a different broadband chip, but a different antenna system as well, and less efficient to boot. I think this new Qualcomm chip is an obvious choice for the China reason alone (TD-SCDMA and LTE-TDD), eliminating my low-end model. I just don’t think Apple would do the two SKU solution (although they perhaps ought to)
That Qualcomm chip is likely to be more expensive, making the $299 option that much more unfeasible. The likely “low-cost” aggressive price is $350 then, which may be too high for prepay. Moreover, it’s unclear how Apple would differentiate a free-with-contract model in a way that would justify charging higher prices
Moreover, I’ve received a few tips that $450 is more likely. Therefore, I’m moving from “predict” to “ought to.” I’m going to focus more on this in a separate article.
I still believe the 5C will have the same computing power as the current iPhone 5; setting the Apple-designed A6 as the baseline going forward will reap significant dividends
So here’s my revised view of what Apple ought to do:
- iPhone 5S: aluminum, in-cell touch screen, high-end camera, dual flash, A7 processor, LTE – $650/$199 subsidized
- iPhone 5: aluminum, in-cell touch screen, current camera/flash, A6 processor, LTE – $550/$99
- iPhone 5C LTE: plastic, in-cell touch screen, mid-grade camera/flash, A6 processor, LTE – $350 (but ideally $299)/free
Eliminating the 5 completely is a possibility as well. More on what a higher price – like $450 – would mean soon.