Friday, July 10, 2009

The $99 iPhone 3G is the real master stroke? Defining success…

Although many expected Apple to release a cost-down version of its trendsetting handset, it was still a pleasant surprise when the company made the rumors come true. The only thing left to do now is wait for company to announce just how successful the move has been, right?
Rich Jaroslovsky of Bloomberg has written a glowing piece, oft waxing poetic about Apple’s genius ability to turn the smartphone segment upside down (again and again).
“Well, those geniuses at Apple Inc. have done it again, unveiling a product that should turn the wireless phone market on its head,” says Jaroslovsky. “Ah, but I’m not talking about the 3GS. The real revolution is the year-old iPhone 3G, whose price has been slashed to $99 with upgraded software that addresses some of its biggest shortcomings.”
As correctly noted by Jaroslovsky, even though the iPhone 3G is last year’s handset, “The simple fact is, at that price there’s nothing available that comes close to matching the 3G—not from Apple’s network partner AT&T Inc, and not from any other carrier or manufacturer.”
Defining success…
As you might expect, this fan boy tends to agree, but the real question as the day Apple will report second quarter results approaches, “How many did they sell?”
We all know that Cupertino claims to have sold 1 million or so of its new iPhone 3GS handsets. However, at what unit volume does the $99 iPhone 3G become genius? 250K, 500K or do you think they’ve managed a 1:1 to ratio, selling one cheap legacy handset for every new one?
I’m thinking Apple will tell us, perhaps not directly, that they moved between 250K and 500K iPhone 3G units in the first eight countries where it’s now available. Will this be enough and will sales hold long term?
Yes, that’s plenty, at least for now. Thereupon, I still believe that Apple will choose to offer a free + contract phone, perhaps Mac + free phone, and that it could come as soon as this Fall in order to spur holiday sales.
That is, the critical measure of the iPhone 3G’s success won’t be units sold, but in how many competitors it helps Apple slay

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