Is A Cheaper iPhone Inevitable?

As rumors continue to fly about Apple’s upcoming iPhone 5, it’s easy to forget that Apple may indeed be cooking up a smaller version of their hit smartphone. The gossip started back in 2009 when rumors were claiming the possibility of an iPhone Nano launch that fall.

Well, obviously there was no such introduction and the story kind of died out. Then earlier this year, media giants Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal reignited the rumors with claims of confirmation that the iPhone Nano existed…

Today, AppleInsider is fanning the flames as they share the results of a recent Morgan Stanley survey. The financial institution teamed up with AlphaWise to conduct a poll of over 2000 Chinese mobile phone owners during February and March of this year.

The survey showed that 90 percent of the people questioned had a “high interest” in buying a smartphone for their next phone. Of that 90 percent, it shouldn’t surprise you that Apple’s iPhone was the top choice. It came in at 30 percent with Nokia close behind it at 25 percent. HTC, Samsung, and others didn’t garner a lot of attention from those who got interviewed.

Perhaps the most interesting finding in the poll was an overwhelming interest in a cheaper iPhone. Of the 2029 people polled, 53 percent claimed that their next phone would be an iPhone if Apple lowered the cost. This left Nokia with just 20 percent.

Even though this is just a small sample of Chinese mobile phone users, it does shine some light on the interest of a cheaper iPhone in a huge Asian market. How huge? China Mobile alone has close to 600 million customers, that’s 6 times the amount of current U.S. leader Verizon Wireless.

Apple has to be foaming at the mouth as they read over some of these numbers. Although some folks don’t want Apple to ruin their exclusivity by lowering prices, it seems inevitable. With Google selling 10 million phones a month and a renewed Nokia sporting Windows software coming up fast, needless to say the heat is on.

Can Apple continue to compete with only one handset model? Actually yes. If you consider that the numbers get cloudy sometimes as Google is not technically selling hardware and that the next iPhone is projected to sell in excess of 100 million units, the iPhone may not need another model.

Only Steve Jobs and a select few of his Cupertino crew know what’s in store for the iPhone lineup. Will we finally see a smaller, cheaper iPhone?

If you ask me, Apple has had an iPhone Nano ready to go for a while now. Steve either isn’t happy with the design, or he can’t bring himself to pull the trigger. A cheaper iPhone would certainly call some of Apple’s characteristics into question, such as, quality and exclusivity.

Sebastien has shared his opinions on why Apple shouldn’t start selling a cheaper version of the iPhone.

What do you think?