Fortune reports that Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore today released a new research note claiming that Apple may be preparing to release two new iPhone models later this year, with the usual iPhone revamp being joined by the debut of a cheaper model coming in at an unlocked, unsubsidized price of $349.In a note issued early Monday, Deutsche Bank’s Chris Whitmore is telling clients to expect both — an iPhone 5 and an iPhone 4S.
“With Nokia and RIMM struggling,” he writes, “the time is right for Apple to aggressively penetrate the mid range smart-phone market (i.e. $300-500 category) to dramatically expand its [total addressable market] and market share.”
As Whitmore sees it, an iPhone 4S that is unlocked, priced around $349, and comes with a pre-paid voice plan would “drive significantly greater penetration” into an addressable market that has grown to include 1.5 billion potential customers in 98 countries, two thirds of whom prefer pre-paid plans.
Unclear is the basis of Whitmore’s claim, whether it be concrete information obtained from Apple’s supply chain or mere speculation on what Apple “should” do.
Whitmore notes that while the market for prepaid smartphones is very small in the U.S., many other markets around the world have much higher levels of prepaid activity, and a cheaper iPhone would significantly lower the barrier to entry for those customers.Stay tuned with us for more breaking news. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and check out our RSS for quick reference.