LAS VEGAS--I had always fancied that when CES comes along, Apple's devious PR people sit around and wonder which little rumor to toss out, just to turn the heads of those who gawp here.
Of course, there's no proof that this week's hearty rumor -- that Apple will produce a cheaper iPhone -- came from Cupertino, but the leak seemed timed with a stroke of mischief regardless.
So as CES reaches its later stages, news emerges that Apple's SVP of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, has declared himself on the subject -- a declaration that can be roughly summarized as "Hah."
The Next Web reports that Schiller gave an interview to the Shanghai Evening News yesterday in which he said: "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 75 percent of the profit."
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Some might interpret this as: "Do you really think we're going to go grubbing around in the basement, looking for a few coins?"
Wise and regular analysts estimated that a cheaper iPhone could reach half a billion customers.
But where would the cachet be if everyone was walking around with an iPhone? Some might say it's bad enough already when everyone and her ex already has an iPad.
In Apple's world, if something is cheaper, it has to have some palpably positive -- and, hopefully, novel -- value.
It's hard to believe Apple would create something that is simply cheap for cheap's sake.
And anyway, if this thing were to be a smaller iPhone, that would be an iPhone 4, right?
Update January 11 at 4:45 a.m. PT: Reuters has withdrawn its own story on Schiller's remarks in the Shanghai Evening News, saying only that the initial report in the Shanghai paper was updated with "substantial changes to its content." We'll update this story when we get more details on those changes.