Is the iPhone mini Inevitable?


There have been so many predictions about how Apple must make an iPhone mini to survive. How it’s inevitable. How Apple will be sunk without it. I have just one word for all those folks: netbook.

CNET quotes Neil Mawston that in order to compete with Samsung, the iPhone mini is a must-have in the product line:

We believe Apple will have to launch an ‘iPhone Mini’ at some point over the next three years to address the hundreds of millions of prepaid users worldwide that cannot afford the current iPhone. The iPhone 5 is growing fast and profitably right now, so there is limited incentive for Apple to launch a profit-squeezing ‘iPhone Mini’ this year. We expect the ‘iPhone Mini’ to be more likely next year, in 2014, when Apple’s penetration of the global postpaid smartphone market will be nearing saturation and Apple will be forced to discover fresh growth streams elsewhere.

Via CNET News)

Here’s the thing, when netbooks were all the rage. When they were flying off the shelves and growth in that sector was nuts, everyone said Apple had to get into the netbook space. Apple said, no, then came the MacBook Air (not awesome at first, mind blowing now) and the iPad. Where are netbooks now? The deadpool. The last two companies still making them, Acer and Asus, stopped production Dec 31st, 2012. The netbook is dead and done.

So, I have to take proclamations of “Apple has to make this niche device to survive…” with a grain of salt. There is precedent, of course for “caving” to pressure, Steve Jobs dismissed 7″ tablets and the iPad mini has turned out to be one of Apple’s most successful products.

I think Apple’s experience with the iPod line and past computer lines shows the trouble you can get into when you start trying to meet every niche and need within your product. Could Apple preserve its amazing profit margins with an iPhone mini? Who is the real market? Apple going after the low-cost market just doesn’t make sense to me, not with everything else Apple has been producing of late.

So, as will all these analyst predictions, pronouncements, and prognostications, I think the iPhone mini is something we’ll keep hearing about, until we learn that it’s really something like an advanced personal communicator using wireless spectrum that is free and open.

Then we’ll all say, of course, Apple had to do that too.

Photo from Flickr by Andrew Currie.

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  • Joe Blough

    Makes me laugh when everyone reports “Steve Jobs dismissed 7″ tablets”. No one knows if he green-lighted it before he died. I suspect he did. Lest everyone forget, Steve Jobs dismissed video on the iPod, too. “Who would want to watch video on that size of a screen”.

  • Kimk69

    To me the MacBook Air is not a net book at all. But that’s just me maybe. Me personally, I think it’s bull. iPhone mini. I just can’t see it.

  • Kimk69

    Who cares if they can’t keep up with Samsung. They’re selling millions of high dollar phones year after year and Samsung has like 30 phone models out a year. A lot of junk. Who wants to play with a tiny iPhone. If rather have a 3GS with some newer software. They gotta be pretty cheap to make. Even the i4.

    • fan

      Exactly, my old 3GS has a couple of tiny scratches, my fault from not getting a case early, but my old 4, my 4S and my 5 don’t have a mark on them from being in Otterbox and LifeProof from when I got them. I could easily go back to using the 4 if I really had to, it is still a great phone to use, not to mention the money they are still worth to buy new.

  • Jeremy Taco Patterson

    I don’t see it happening for one reason: profitability after the initial purchase.

    People who buy iPhones (and iPads and iPods for that matter) buy apps and music. A LOT of each. BILLIONS of dollars worth annually, in fact. People who buy Pre-paid phones GENERALLY aren’t the “disposable income” type who have a lot of extra money to spend on apps and music.

    Apple, quite simply, isn’t interested in selling “only” phones to those folks. They have yet to cave to a market simply to have a cheaper device in the market, and I seriously doubt they will start with their most profitable device.

    I read it summed up quite nicely once and I wish I had remembered who said it so I could credit them: Apple isn’t interested in ALL of the smartphone business, only the most profitable.

    Leave the throwaway phones to Samsung/LG/etc.

    • Rounak Jain

      Doubt apple makes much profit on the sale of content through the iTunes Store, it’s a break even business most probably

      • Damani Brown

        They break even

      • Kiwiholden

        Are you high? What do you think the over heads are for copying Digital content over and over?
        I hear the movie Business only breaks even too…

  • bcsc

    Seems like a great idea. That way, they can sue Samsung for releasing the S3 mini last year.

  • el

    omg!! 1.5″ screen for the mini?? maybe 1″ is better …… reverse gear Apple ……

  • Rounak Jain

    So what the analyst is basically saying is put a SIM card slot in the iPod nano

  • Steve jobs

    If you want an iPhone mini. Get an iPhone 4 or 4s. It’s smaller than the 5. Makes no sense. A smaller iphone wouldn’t work. Keyboard would be too small.

    • moe22

      you sir are correct. i believe the width of the iphone is meant to be the way it is for its usability as the “iPhone” anything different would be iPod Touch Nano.

  • Kiwiholden

    I think the way they sell older models now is more profitable than making a mini, this way the production line is already set up and they don’t need to create new production lines

  • Pacomacman

    Someone has read into this completely wrong… An iPhone mini doesn’t mean a physically smaller phone, but a cheaper to manufacture less featured phone! Some people really do need their heads testing. The whole idea is to cut costs and deliver a cheaper more affordable phone.

    • Steve jobs

      What are you smoking? It does mean a smaller device. Every mini product has been smaller in the past. They would not create a new line to attract customers at a different price point since they are already doing that by lowering the costs of prior models. iPhone 4 =$0. iPhone 4S =$100