More rumors of a forthcoming low-cost iPhone

Wow, what a weak for iPhone rumors. Early in the week Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal both reported that Apple was working on a low-priced iPhone in order to compete with low-cost Android phones or to sell in developing countries. Bloomberg said that it could appear later this year. The rumors said that it would sell for $99 or $149 (without a contract), with one analyst suggesting it would be $199. The reports said that it would resemble a standard iPhone but with a less-expensive body such as polycarbonate plastic.

There have been earlier reports of a low-cost iPhone, and more typically the rationale is that Apple needs a less-expensive product in order to have an impact on the smartphone market in developing countries.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

So blogs were abuzz for a couple days. Then, to complicate matters, Reuters, an international news agency, sent out a report saying that Apple's Phil Schiller, traveling in China with Apple CEO Tim Cooke, denied that Apple would sell a cheap iPhone.

Then to complicate matters even more, Reuters retracted their report, which was based on a report in a Chinese newspaper. Here's their retraction notice: "Reuters has withdrawn the story headlined 'Apple exec dismisses cheaper phone as a market share grab-report' which was based on a Shanghai Evening News report that was subsequently updated with substantial changes to its content."

And then to complicate matters more, the Shanghai Evening News, indicating they had had discussions with Apple about the original article, released a new version of their article to replace their earlier report. This version had direct quotes from Schiller so that there could be no misinterpretation. According to a Reurters report on Yahoo News, Schiller is quoted as saying, that unlike other companies, "Apple has always focused on providing the best products for its consumers, we've never blindly chased market share."

So what to make of it? Why did Apple object to a story headlined "Apple dismisses cheaper phone as a market share grab," which was the replaced with, "Apple wants to provide the best products, will not blindly pursue market share"? And why did the Shanghai Evening News remove any mention of cheaper smartphones in their revised version?

Well, maybe Apple is indeed working on a less-expensive phone, but not in order to increase market share in competition with Android, but to simply have a phone that can be offered in developing nations. Who knows? One this is for sure: it's unusual for Apple to react to a media report in this way.

Will we see a low-cost iPhone? I'm guessing that it's not likely in the U.S. but may be under consideration for other countries. But that's a guess. 

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Jim Karpen holds a Ph.D. in literature and writing, and has a love of gizmos. His doctoral dissertation focused on the revolutionary consequences of digital technologies and anticipated some of the developments taking place in the industry today. Jim has been writing about the Internet and technology since 1994 and has been using Apple's visionary products for decades.