Is the iPhone mini Inevitable?

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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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