Dual-Price & Dual-Model iPhone 5 Speculation Resurfaces

In 2011, many tech analysts believed that Apple would seek to enter the value-priced smartphone market with an iPhone 5 and lesser-priced iPhone 4S. Now, tech pundits are envisioning the possibility of dual models for both the iPad 3 and iPhone 5 in 2012.

Last week, I began to write a column about how the dual-model, dual-priced iPhone 4S/iPhone 5 rumor had managed to die with a whimper. However, I abandoned the piece because the only supporting evidence I had to cite in the article was the absence of evidence. There just didn’t seem like quite enough material out there to reference in order to make the point that the popular notion that Cupertino would allow for an el cheap-o iPhone had gone off the radar.

But as 2011 comes to a close, tech pundits are venturing once again into the dual model iPhone 5 rumor fray.

Leading the way on this dual-release rumor is not the iPhone 5 rumor mill, but rather the iPad 3 folks, who, after being disgraced by the lack of an iPad 2 Plus or iPad 3 in the Fall, are at it again, suggesting a wide range of theories. Some say that there will be an iPad 2 Plus and iPad 3, and that the difference between these two will be performance, while other suggest that the iPad 3 will come in two sizes — the standard 9.7″ version and some kind of 7″ version. Both concepts would also accommodate the long-running thesis that Apple wants to start competing at the value end of the tablet market, fearing that Amazon’s Kindle brand could undercut them as a price leader. (Note that, in 2011, the iPad 2 was still the best-priced tablet for its features.)

Joining the dual iPad model release rumor are now suggestions that the iPhone 5 could get a similar treatment. While I have not come across any discussion of an “iPhone 5S,” I have seen a few piecing referencing two iPhone 5 models. Take this one from Product-Reviews, wherein writer Daniel Chubb suggests, “If Apple decided to lower the price of iPhone 5 or launch two 6G models, then they could entice a massive number of new iPhone owners that have never owned an iPhone before. These people may learn to love the way the iPhone works with Apple TV for gaming and live streaming, and the way an iPhone works with many other Apple products.”

This kind of speculation is where it all begins: the tech universe making the case for a dual-model iPhone 5 release. Some would say that Apple had planned to feature both the iPhone 5 and 4S in 2011, and that the two would have fit into the pricing structure of a dual-model release. But if that were true, then why would Apple have made the iPhone 4S some damn expensive? Wouldn’t it be demoralizing for iPhone 4S users to know that, had the iPhone 5 been released in 2011, that the 4S would have cost substantially less money?

I don’t think this is the case.

My belief is that there was never a plan to release two iPhones in 2011; the plan was for the iPhone 5 and, when Mr. Jobs decided that it just wasn’t going to live up to the hype and expectations that we, the rumor mill, had put into place, Apple opted for the 4S refresh to hold us over.

There are plenty of examples in the Apple catalogue where they offer multiple models of mobile devices. Their MacBooks come in Air and Pro varieties, and with differing screen sizes. iPods cover a wide range of price and performance as well. But the iPhone — and iPad — are different. They are monolithic icons. You don’t have “an iPhone,” but rather “The iPhone.” Same goes for the iPad. I did not believe then and will not believe now that 2012 will bring about an iPhone 5 in two different sizes and/or performance. It just isn’t Apple’s style. We’re lucky we can get it in two colors now.

This isn’t to say that Tim Cook won’t diverge from this sales model down the line. But Apple has proven that it knows how to capitalize on the hype surrounding the iPhone, and they will look to channel all of the pent-up buzz for the iPhone 5 into one singular release in 2012.



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