Rumors of ‘Cheaper’ iPhone Clarified By Chinese Newspaper

1/14/13 1:04PM EST

iphone5 Rumors of Cheaper iPhone Clarified By Chinese Newspaper

First reports suggested a cheaper iPhone on the horizon. Then it was chalked up to be mere rumor. Now the rumor is said to be a rumor. What’s the real story?

Although the world may never know exactly how the tale was spun, it now appears the Shanghai News report that cited Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller—visiting China on company business with CEO Tim Cook—as saying the company would not develop a cheaper iPhone in order to expand its market share was lost in translation.

The tale began in early January when multiple media outlets reported the likelihood of a less-expensive iPhone in development. Bloomberg, for example, stated a low-end iPhone could cost as little as $99, and the Wall Street Journal estimated the phone could be released this summer.

Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster gave the cheaper smartphone a 60- to 70-percent chance of release in 2013, and said it was the “right move” for Apple to reach the 65-percent of the smartphone market to which Android caters.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple could manufacture a less-expensive iPhone model by replacing the standard aluminum exterior with polycarbonate and using a processor and graphics chip from older iPhone designs.

But when the Next Web translated Schiller’s Shanghai News interview Jan. 9, all speculation changed.

Every product that Apple creates, we consider using only the best technology available,” Schiller told the Schanghai News, according to the translation. “This includes the production pipeline, the Retina display, the unibody design, to provide the best product to the market.

At first, non-smartphones were popular in the Chinese market, now cheap smartphones are more popular and non-smartphones are out. Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products. In fact, although Apple’s market share of smartphones is just about 20 percent, we own the 75 percent of the profit.

Schiller’s statements spread like wildfire, and media far and wide reported there would be no cheaper iPhone. Those reports did another 180 on Jan. 11. However, when Reuters withdrew its initial report and cited “substantial changes” to the interview’s translation. The news agency followed up with a new report the next day.

According to the new translation, Schiller actually said Apple “will not discuss plans for any future products,” the company will continue to focus on making “the best products,” and “never blindly pursue market share.

The Shanghai News also published a new version of its original story—one that removed references to “cheaper” smartphones,” and altered its headline from “Apple will not push a cheaper smartphone for the sake of market share,” to “Apple wants to provide the best products, will not blindly pursue market share.

Was it a mistaken translation or clever backpedaling by one of the most powerful companies in the world?

[Image via smjbk/Flickr]

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