Apple is reportedly working on an iPhone model to compete with Google's growing Android handset market share.
In an effort to more directly challenge Google's Android-powered handsets, Apple is reportedly designing a smaller, less
expensive version of its top-selling iPhone. Bloomberg News reported
the new phone would also be easier to operate on various networks.
"Instead of targeting 25 percent of the global mobile-phone market,
Apple would be going after 100 percent," Needham & Co. analyst
Charlie Wolf told the news service.
The prototype would be about one-third of the size of normal iPhones, the
report said, and would lack a "home" button. "Apple would sell it at a
low price mainly because the smartphone will use a processor, display
and other components similar to those used in the current model, rather
than pricier, more advanced parts that will be in the next iPhone," the
Bloomberg article noted.
This week, Apple moved forward in its efforts to broaden sales by
offering the iPhone 4 on Verizon's wireless network. Last week, Verizon
stopped taking orders for the iPhone 4, reporting that it has already sold through
its initial inventory. During a Jan. 25 conference call with media and
analysts to discuss Apple's fiscal 2011 first quarter, Apple executives
announced that the company sold a record number of iPhones during the
quarter, and could have sold even more had it had the inventory.
According to Nielsen
Google's Android platform ran on 43 percent of smartphone shipments
from July 2010 to December 2010, while Apple iOS grabbed 26 percent and
RIM's BlackBerry took 20 percent. Nielsen's numbers came one day after
Canalys published its fourth quarter smartphone shipments across North
America, Asia Pacific, EMEA and Latin America, finding that Android
became the world's leading smartphone platform.
While Apple expands its market share with new carriers and a potential
lower-cost handset, Nokia, the world's leading handset manufacturer, is
feeling the heat. CEO Stephen Elop recently announced
plans to revamp the company's strategy, noting the industry had changed
and Nokia needs to move faster to compete more effectively.
The Android platform is also helping push worldwide smartphone sales to
new highs, according to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker,
released this week. In the fourth quarter of 2010, vendors shipped
100.9 million smartphones, up 87.2 percent from 53.9 million during the
same period in 2009.
IDC research suggested further gains for the smartphone market in 2011,
as vendors deepen and broaden their offerings. "The high end of the
market has been important to help grow the smartphone market in recent
years," said Ramon Llamas, senior research analyst with IDC's mobile
phone technology and trends team. "IDC expects vendors to provide more
midrange and low-end smartphones at lower prices to reach the mass
market. In the same manner, even high-end devices will become available
at lower prices. This will result in greater competition and more
selection for users."
Android's market penetration, helped by the numerous handset
manufacturers adopting the platform (including HTC, LG Electronics,
Motorola and Samsung) has become a cornerstone of the smartphone
market's growth, Llamas noted. Adding to the competitive landscape is
the entrance of two refreshed operating systems, Symbian 3 and
Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 platform.