Apple to Release iPhone Mini?

Samsung has been crushing the smartphone wars and it may further widen its lead over Apple this 2013. According to experts and data reports, Samsung is expected to churn out a 33% market share this year (290 million smartphones) from its 31% market share last year, while Apple is expected to grab only 21% (180 million iPhones) from its 20% share last 2012. What’s the reason behind Samsung’s huge lead over Apple?

Strategy Analytics expert Neil Mawston explained that Samsung’s huge lead over Apple is due to the Korean company’s broader line of products that caters to a wider market. Samsung "plays in more segments" as Mawston puts it, and this is the reason why Mawston also sees an iPhone Mini in the near future. He even fearlessly forecasts that it will be available by 2014.

In an interview with CNET, Mawston explained that at some point within the next 3 years, Apple will have to launch a more affordable version of the iPhone to do something about the millions of prepaid users who aren’t able to afford the latest iPhone model. But since Apple is still enjoying profits coming from the iPhone 5 which was launched September of last year, it’s more likely that Apple will be releasing the mini version next year 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." That’s where the iPhone Mini for prepaid users will come into play.

Some analysts, however, are seeing a low-cost iPhone in the very near future – as early as summer, to be exact. Now that’s a bolder prediction. Some experts say that an iPhone Mini could be released this year with a price that ranges from $200 to $250.

There really is no concrete proof that Apple is indeed releasing a "mini me" version of the iPhone. But a smaller and cheaper handset will definitely be a sales-booster for the company. If Apple was truly planning to release iPhone Mini, the prospect of owning a cheap but nevertheless effective business phone like an iPhone will prove to be very appealing to Chinese and Indian markets. If Apple can create solid markets in these countries, the company will be reaping billions of dollars in profits and millions of users.

The only problem that Apple could face once this iPhone Mini becomes a reality is Google’s Android OS. In December 2012, Google Chairman Eric Schmidt proudly announced that Android is winning its mobile war against Apple. He even compared Android’s success to that of Microsoft’s when the latter emerged victorious in its desktop business war against Apple 2 decades ago.

Schmidt’s claims are backed by statistics. According to Gartner, Android has captured 72% of the global market share in the third quarter of 2012 while Apple captured only 14% of the global market share. This may be due to the fact that most of Apple’s smartphone rivals like Samsung, HTC, and Sony are using Android as OS. But who knows? If this rumor about a smaller and cheaper iPhone becomes reality, it can be a potential game-changer. And what happens next? People will just have to wait and see.

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