Apple (AAPL) Set to Launch Less Expensive iPhone in 2013

The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple (AAPL) is currently developing a less expensive version of its iPhone that could hit the market sometime in the second half of FY 2013. According to people briefed on the matter, the budget smartphone, which is said to resemble the standard iPhone, has been on the table since 2009, but changing market conditions has forced Apple to consider launching the device as soon as this year.

[via WSJ] “While Apple has explored such a device for years, the plan has been progressing and a less expensive version of the flagship device could launch as soon as later this year, one of the people said.

The cheaper phone could resemble the standard iPhone, with a different, less-expensive body, one of the people said. One possibility Apple has considered is lowering the cost of the device by using a different shell made of polycarbonate plastic. Many other parts could remain the same or be recycled from older iPhone models.”

Apple’s new device is reportedly targeted at emerging markets, a move the Journal claims is in response to Cupertino’s slipping smartphone supremacy.

Citing information from IDC, the paper reports that in Q3’12, Apple held only 14.6% of worldwide smartphone shipments, down from a peak of 23% in the fourth quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012. By contrast, Samsung Electronics Co.’s global market share jumped from 8.8% to 31.3% from the third quarter of 2010 to the third quarter of 2012.

While much of the information surrounding this purported low-cost iPhone is still a mystery, it’s wise to take rumors like this with a grain of salt as Cupertino could still decide to scrap the plan. According to the Journal, Apple execs still fear a less-expensive iPhone could risk curbing profits and put off investors.

On Tuesday, AAPL closed 4 p.m. Nas trading slightly up at $525.31. The ticker has fallen 25% since it reached an all-time closing high of $705.07 in September 2012.

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