With rumors and evidence of an agreement between China Mobile and Apple continuing to grow, one Wall Street analyst believes the growth of mobile Internet in the nation of over 1 billion "opens up a whole new world" for the iPhone.
A pair of reports coming out of the Far East on Tuesday claim that Apple is looking to expand the screen on at least one version of the next-generation iPhone to 4 inches, while also adding an upgraded A5 chip processor to its smartphone offerings and an enhanced version of the A4 to the second-generation iPad.
A third major publication reported on Monday that Apple is working on a new, smaller, cheaper iPhone set for release this year, as the handset maker continues to steal thunder from the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona — a show it is not even attending.
Apple is working on a new design and form factor for the iPhone that would allow for a less expensive, contract-free model to take on the competing Google Android platform and bypass wireless carrier contracts, according to Bloomberg.
Although Apple has downplayed the possibility of a stripped-down iPhone, the Royal Bank of Canada is reiterating claims this week that the company is gearing up to announce two new versions of its touch-screen handset, including an entry-level model that lacks both 3G connectivity and an unlimited data plan.
A 4GB version of the iPhone once rumored to play a major role at Wal-Mart discount chains was a no-show in 2008, though one Wall Street analyst now says there's evidence the device may turn up this year.
FBR Capital Markets said Wednesday that it believes that Apple is gearing up to release several new products during the first half of 2009, including a new version of the iPod shuffle and cheaper versions of its flagship iPhone and MacBook offerings.
Renderings of a protective case for a device that resembles a smaller iPhone have been published online, rekindling speculation that Apple may be planning to introduce a new low-end handset sometime in the near future.
Apple chief executive Steve Jobs made a surprise appearance on the company's fourth quarter conference call Tuesday and fielded a variety of questions that revealed further insight into company's ongoing product strategies. Specifically, he made remarks about Apple's position on the emerging NetBook space, how the troubled global economy impacts the company, the state of Apple TV, and how Apple views the prospects for $500 desktop PCs.
While checks within Apple's supply chain suggest the company is researching a low-end iPhone design, rumors that such a device will surface this year are overly optimistic, according to Lehman Brothers.