One of the most popular speculations about the new iPhone before it was announced this summer was that Apple (AAPL) was going to introduce a 32 gigabyte model. That also became one of the biggest disappointments when Steve Jobs announced the iPhone 3G in June and kept the same iPhone capacities — 8-gig and 16-gig. So is Apple coming out with a larger model after all?
According to a note from Pacific Crest Securities, AT&T (T) stores have been seeing lower inventory of 8-gig iPhones since mid-August. One possible reason, per analyst Andy Hargreaves: This could be because Apple is getting rid of the 8-gig iPhone and introducing a 32-gig model. The report goes on to hypothesize that Apple could drop the price of the 16-gig iPhone to $199 from $299 and price the new, larger model at $299 — which makes sense. (Hargreaves also points out that this could be bad news for the rest of the handset business, especially component suppliers.)
We don’t know if this is true, or, even if it is, when we’ll see a new model. But Apple would be smart to introduce it this holiday season. Right now, T-Mobile’s Google phone is attractively priced at $20 less than the iPhone with a cheaper data plan — but with just 1 gig of storage. RIM’s touchscreen Verizon Wireless BlackBerry might also be priced around $199, and we expect Sprint’s Samsung Instinct to keep its low price, around $130 — if not $100. If Apple were to double down on memory and offer a 16-gig iPhone for $199, it would be even tougher for rivals to compete.
Hargreaves’ comments were in a note reporting that Apple supposedly plans to cut its iPhone 3G build plan to 14 million-15 million phones in 2008, down from 18 million, citing “supply chain channel checks.”
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