Tim Cook addresses rumors on part order cuts and bigger/cheaper iPhones

Apple event 20111004 (iPhone 4S unveiling, Tim Cook closeup 001)

Towards the end of Apple’s earnings call earlier today, Tim Cook and CFO Peter Oppenheimer fielded a number of questions from analysts. And of course, many of them took the opportunity to question the two on the validity of recent rumors.

The Wall Street Journal’s ‘Apple cutting iPhone 5 part orders’ story, the recent 4.8-inch iPhone meme, and the ongoing budget iPhone rumor were all brought up during the Q&A session. And Tim Cook (sort of) addressed each one…

First off, the The Wall Street Journal story. The piece claimed that Apple has been contacting suppliers to cut orders of iPhone 5 parts. The consensus was that this was a sign of slipping iPhone demand, and it sent Apple’s stock tumbling.

Here’s what Cook had to say about it:

“Months of rumors about order cuts and so forth, so let me take a moment to comment on these. No comment on any particular rumor.

I suggest its good to question the accuracy of any kind of rumor about build plans. Even if a particular data point were factual, it would be impossible to interpret that data point as to what it meant to our business. The supply chain is very complex and we have multiple sources for things. Yields can vary, supplier performance can vary. There is an inordinate long list of things that can make any single data point not a great proxy for what is going on.”

Now, onto the recent spike in reports revolving around a larger iPhone. Supply chain sources tell DigiTimes, China Times and others claim there’s a prototype of an Apple handset floating around supplier plants that has a 4.8-inch display.

Cook all but shoots down the rumors:

“The iPhone 5 screen offers a new four-inch retina display. It also provides a larger screen without sacrificing one-handed use. We put a lot of thought into screen sizes and we think we picked the right one.”

And finally, on that budget iPhone we keep hearing about. Recent reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal have rekindled talk of Apple making a budget smartphone to help it make inroads into low-end and emerging markets.

We’ve heard this response before:

“The most important thing for Apple is to make products that impact people’s lives. We don’t seek revenue for revenue’s sake.”

It’s worth noting, however, that after that last comment, Cook does add “We’ve had a great track record on iPod of offering different products at different price points,” possibly leaving the door open for a more diversified iPhone lineup.

Other than that, there’s nothing really groundbreaking here. Tim didn’t confirm or deny the part cuts, and of course he didn’t comment on future products. But he did say today that Apple was working on some exciting stuff, and that their pipeline was “chock full.”