Yep, rumors of a cellphone from Apple are back in the news again, after investment bankers Piper Jaffray & Co. said that there is a "75 percent chance" of an iPhone arriving in stores in the next 12 months.
Folks have been talking up the prospects of an Apple smartphone for at least a year now. One question, however, never seems to get asked: Why would it make sense for Apple to do this?
The business model for selling these devices is a lot different from selling an iBook or an iPod. Carriers subsidize all these devices to a greater or lesser degree, so Apple would have to work closely with a carrier as it rolled out these devices. I suspect that the brand could sell the device at a premium, but how much more than current high-end $400-plus smartphones are businesses and consumers willing to pay for the marquee?
If Apple were really committed to rolling out smartphone products, perhaps the -- ahem -- smartest thing to do would be to work with an operator to become a mobile virtual network operator (MVNO) and package the phone with lots of multimedia services that it could charge a premium for. Then users would not just be buying a gadget -- they'd be buying a lifestyle.
— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung