The comparative glut of rumors around the new iPhone may have a very simple explanation: Apple is building two new phones to be released in September. Chris Whitmore, a vice president at Deutsche bank and known Apple prediction-maker, told his clients in a note Monday morning that Apple is planning to release both a contract-only iPhone 5 and a cheaper prepaid iPhone 4S model.
"With Nokia and RIMM struggling," Whitmore argues that "the time is right for Apple to aggressiveley penetrate the mide range smart-phone market (i.e. $300-500 category) to dramatically expand its [total addressable market] and market share."
The iPhone 4S, Whitmore says, would likely sell at $349 and include an unlocked headset and a prepaid voice plan. The recent release of an unlocked iPhone 4 shows an openness to work outside of carrier relationships and breakdown of plans show that Apple may be missing out on a huge pre-paid market:
Bear in mind that the two phone explanation is just a rumor of which Whitmore, who seems to be a bit of a fanboy, is the sole source. Whitmore's client notes have been cited reasonably frequently in the past for their typically sunny predictions about Apple stock. The San Francisco-based analyst last made headlines in January when he trumpeted Apple's holiday revenues as stronger than expected and correctly anticipated the arrival of the Verizon iPhone 4. Later that month, Whitmore gushed over the Apple technology in telling his clients about Deutsche Bank's tossing out Blackberries after an iPhone trial. "After testing corporate email on iPhone for the past few months, there is no going back," said Whitmore in a note to clients. "We expect a lot of users will feel the same way when iPhones are offered at their workplaces."
One banker's enthusiasm aside, another anticipates Apple will ramp up manufacturing in the next couple of months. Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty wrote in a note to investors on Sunday, "Apple’s next iPhone will begin production in mid to late August and ramp aggressively into C4Q." Huberty added that the rumored Apple TV was still in "early design stages." In short, by now--Apple's stock price is on the rise.
Of course, both Huberty and Whitmore will look like stars if their predictions are correct but neither prediction seems incredibly ground-breaking. As mentioned, Apple is already selling unlocked iPhone 4s--the prepaid package seems like a natural next step. Meanwhile, Steve Jobs' announcing a new mobile operating system release this fall, iOS 5, almost certainly implies that there will be a new device to run it, iPhone 5. Bloomberg already reported that device would hit stores in September, and about a million other gadget-watchers described it in detail. Unless, Whimore found a strange-looking Apple phone sitting on a bar in Silicon Valley, he's just jumping on the rumor bandwagon.