|Apple's iPhone 5 could, if rumours prove true, be followed by three new models this year. (AFP PHOTO/MARTIN BUREAU)
Apple will release three new iPhones this year, if the latest rumours prove true, one a straightforward replacement for the current iPhone 5, the second an entry-level "affordable" 4.8-inch display model currently referred to as the iPhone "Math," and then towards the end of the year a fully-fledged iPhone 6 with a 12-megapixel camera.
The latest batch of rumors surrounding Apple's upcoming product launches, which this time originate from the China Times, whether true or not will take on greater resonance in the wake of the company's latest quarterly earnings statement.
While Apple has achieved revenues of $54.5 billion US and profits of $13.1 billion in just 12 weeks and managed to sell almost 50 million smartphones that, in countries such as Brazil and China, can retail for as much as $700, investors, analysts and high-tech journalists alike fear that this performance -- which would be considered record-breaking at any other company in any other industry in any other country in the world -- spells the beginning of the end for what is still the most valuable and profitable organization in the developed world.
Targeting a new consumer
The consensus appears to be that the high end of the technology is saturated. Everyone who wants and can afford a premium smartphone, tablet and PC has already got one. Therefore, Apple has to either start discounting or start making products for consumers with less disposable income.
To support this view, a number of experts are pointing to the fact that Apple's older handsets the iPhone 4 and 4S have still been performing well despite the iPhone 5's release. "It's notable that so many consumers are opting for older models rather than the iPhone 5," said Sarah Rotman Epps at research firm Forrester. "It means there's demand for cheaper Apple products, and Apple may have saturated the high end of the market."
This now widely held view means that each time rumours surface linking the company to a mass-market product like a TV or to an affordable range of phones or tablets, the stories are going to gain traction and receive more than their fair share of publicity.