What Will A Post-iPhone World at Apple Look Like?
The Apple bears like to portray that all innovative projects ceased to exist the day that Steve Jobs died. Munster painted a very different picture. He talked about projects such as 3D printing and robotic applications, similar to the Google (GOOG) driverless car, that Apple is working on. He also speculated that Apple would have its own "glasses" type of product.
The glasses idea is certainly backed up by some patent filings that Apple has made recently.
Although he didn't say it explicitly, Munster is really talking about a post-iPhone world at Apple.
He's not the only Apple watcher to recently discuss this.
Noted Apple blogger and analyst Horace Dediu speculated a couple of weeks ago that he didn't expect there to be a new iPhone in a few years from now and that Apple was already preparing for that possibility.
Just last week, Horace hosted a podcast with fellow Apple watcher Benedict Evans where they talked about Apple's strategy with the iPhone. It's part of the Critical Path 5 x 5 podcast series and you should try to listen to it if you get the opportunity.
They discussed how Apple has taken a deliberate approach with the iPhone since its 2007 launch to maximize its profit from the device at the expense of greater market share. That's why Apple has stuck to its unsubsidized price for the iPhone of $650. Carriers have been willing to play ball with Apple and heavily subsidize the cost of the handset in order to get new subscribers on to their plans for a given number of years.
Dediu and Evans contrast this approach with the one that Google has taken with Android, which is simply low cost and grab as much market share as possible.
They note in their discussion how this approach has led to taking the very low end of the market -- the folks who simply used to use "candy bar" Nokia (NOK) phones -- who simply want to make phone calls and nothing else.This is why Apple's mobile web-browsing stats are enormously higher -- 90+% market share -- compared to Android's even though Android dominates the total market share stats.
The question is why hasn't Apple chosen to go into the low end of the market. Dediu says he expected in 2008, just after the introduction of the iPhone, that Apple would come out with something like the Nano iPhone to appeal to the low end of the market. It hasn't.
Maybe it's because Apple isn't sure how it would differentiate such a phone from its existing high-end phone. With an iPod, the higher-end version had more memory. It's not so obvious what you would do with a low-end phone and the high-end version with iPhone, although the analysts speculate a low-end version could have no apps and just be geared towards calling and texting.