Sources told Peter Burrows at Bloomberg BusinessWeek that Apple is working on a small, cheap (and out of control?) version of the iPhone to slow the infiltration of the Android from Google.
Really, really interesting, and a major strategy shift rom Steve Jobs if true.
Since his comeback, Jobs has seemed content to stick to his pre-firing strategy of capturing the high end of markets and letting the "clones" take the bulk of the business. That happened in PCs, where imitations of the Mac OS (a product from Microsoft called "Windows") took over the PC business, leaving the Mac as a niche player. An important, cutting-edge, Mercedes-type niche, but still a niche.
Jobs has seemed willing to continue that strategy in smart phones and now tablets, letting Google play the old Microsoft role: Imitate Apple's software and license it to all hardware makers. That means Micros- er, Google, sells more units and attracts more apps from the independent market over the long-term.
It's been working for Google. Canalys says Android phones have started taking over current sales of the smart phone market.
At the end of 2009, Android captured 9% of smart phones sales, while iPhone got 16%.
One year later, Android took 33%, iPhone 16.0%.
(Raw numbers from Canalys here)
I figured Jobs was happy with this approach. After all, Apple's profits and stock price are outstanding. But I've had a bad habit of underestimating him. I admit it. He's a genius. (Well, I've always admitted that.) He's smarter than I. He's the greatest pioneer since Thomas Edison said "Let there be light bulbs." He will continue to surprise everyone, no matter how used we've become at being surprised by him.
Perhaps Jobs is entering a new phase: Undisputed market leader. Bad for Google if he decides to do that.
Maybe he's still just thinking about this mass-market iPhone. Now that the iPhone is coming out on the Verizon network, we'll have to see if Android will continue its momentum. If not, Jobs may not have to make this change. Or maybe he'll do it anyway.
Hell, what do I know?