Is Apple Desperate For a Cheaper iPhone?

The clearest signal that a cheaper iPhone from Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) targeted at emerging markets has become a necessity comes from a reading of the Chinese smartphone market composition. As Bloomberg points out, the world’s largest handset market is being outsold in China by a local company less than 1 percent its size.

China Wireless Technologies rose from its previous quarter’s sixth spot to third in the IDC numbers for China in the three months that ended in September. Samsung (SSNLF.PK) took the No. 1 spot, with three other local manufacturers rounding out the top five. Lenovo was in second place, while ZTE and Huawei Technologies placed fourth and fifth, respectively. All of those companies offer devices at a fraction of the iPhone’s cost.

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“Apple, with its current stable of products, is unlikely to rank high as long as the general level of affluence in China is low,” Phillip Securities analyst Magdalene Choong told Bloomberg.

China Wireless’ Coolpad 8060, which runs on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android operating system and has a four-inch touchscreen display, sells for 619 yuan, or just under $100. The cheapest iPhone costs 3,088 yuan, while the latest iPhone 5 starts at 5,288 yuan.

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