iPhone 6 rumour rollup for the week ending August 23

The iOSphere got ... gold ... and five different definitions of what cheap means for the iPhone 5C

With the Next iPhone(s) announcement barely three weeks away, the iOSphere hungered and thirsted for data, for facts, for truth about iPhone 6, iPhone 5C, and iPhone 5S.

Instead, it got five different definitions of what "cheap" means for the expected plastic iPhone 5C.

And it got gold.

You read it here second.


"Personally, I don't give a hoot about a gold iPhone. Mashable will continue to report on gold iPhone rumors, since our readers seem to care. I will not be making a big deal of it otherwise. Except for writing this post. Which is really about how I don't care about the gold iPhone. Is that clear?"~ Lance Ulanoff, editor in chief, Mashable.com, on why he, and we, don't need no stinkin' colors, even though his dumb readers seem to believe otherwise.


iPhone 5C will be priced at, uh, less than the not-5C

If you're already convinced that Apple is launching a cheap or low cost or less expensive iPhone, usually now called iPhone 5C, then the only question left, really, is: what price Apple will slap on it?

This week the iOSphere was rife with answers. And when you add them all up, the answer is...that no one knows. Check our own coverage: Pricing a low-cost iPhone: How 'cheap' is cheap?

At KnowYourMobile, Clare Hopping assured readers that iPhone 5C will be priced at full retail between $400 and $500, based on speculation by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Currently, the prices for iPhone 5 at Apple.com for an unlocked iPhone 5 are $649 for 16GB, $749 for 32GB, and $849 for 64GB. Typically, with a new iPhone, Currently, the unlocked iPhone 4S, in keeping with Apple's practice, sells for $549.

Kuo also puts forward the novel theory that the plastic-bodied iPhone 5C will replace the aluminum bodied iPhone 5, which will no longer be sold. "We've learned that the iPhone 5 line will be terminated from 4Q13, while the iPhone 4S line will carry on," Kuo says, according to KnowYourMobile. "From this, we infer that iPhone 5C is launched to replace iPhone 5."

Meaning "the 5C model will be positioned as midrange," according to Kuo. His breakdown of pricing: iPhone 5S, $600 to $700; iPhone 5C, $400 to $500; iPhone 4S, $300 to $400.

Another pricing option, suggested by John Gruber at his DaringFireball blog last week, is a lower-cost iPhone that essentially is based on adding a cellular radio to the iPod touch. The touch starts at $229 for the 16GB model, which has only a low-end video camera; and $299 for 32GB and $399 for 64GB, both of which have a 5 megapixel main camera. The cellular radio would add something to those prices, but Apple might be able to offer a plastic-bodied phone starting under or just over $300.

Another analyst, Citi Research's Glen Yeung, offered his own pricing speculation, according to Brooke Crother's CNET post summarizing Yeung's conclusions. "Based on this assumption [that the iPhone 5C costs about $50 less to build], we estimate that the wholesale selling price of iPhone 5C will be ~$390 and the retail selling price will be ~$450."

So there you have it. The iPhone 5C will be $300, $360, $400, $450, or $500. Somewhere in there for sure.

In a post at TechPinions, Ben Bajarin argues that an "entry level iPhone," is or ought to be a "strategic move to acquire customers who seek value but not at premium price points and [to] get them into Apple's ecosystem."

In other words, Apple wants to attract those customers who are willing to spend money on apps, music, and other services that it offers to iOS users. The "key point for Apple and an entry-level priced iPhone is how low does it need to be to still acquire a customer who will spend money and add value to the ecosystem," Bajarin says.

Evidence for Bajarin's argument comes from an assessment by Morgan Stanley's Katy Huberty, as reported by Apple 2.0 blogger Philip Elmer-DeWitt, at Fortune.

In a note to investors, Huberty outlined the results of proprietary survey of 2,000 Chinese mobile phone owners. Perhaps the most intriguing result is this: "Chinese consumers consider US$486 to be an acceptable price range for the lower-priced iPhone"; that's 22% higher than Huberty's own estimate of Apple's final price for the 5C. And needless to say far higher than what most advocates of a "cheap" iPhone had in mind. By comparison, "the acceptable [to these buyers] price ranges for Samsung [Galaxy] S4 Mini and HTC One Mini were lower than the expected price."

Those results seem to suggest that a significant number of potential Chinese buyers are willing to pay significantly more for a lower-end iPhone than for comparable Android phones, because of the iPhone's higher perceived value.

iPhone 5S will be available in a "gold" color

There will be gold.

Of course it's not actually gold, as in the 24-carat kind. It's a gold color. Or goldish, anyway. There is some confusion on that score. Would Apple really create a gleaming yellow slab that looks like something worn on "Real Housewives of Orange County?"

The Consensus iOSphere Hivemind currently is that "champagne" gold is much more...Appleish.

"Yes, there will be a gold iPhone," announced MG Siegler at TechCrunch.

"At first, I couldn't believe Apple would break from the tradition of offering the simple choice: black and white (or "slate" and "silver" if you prefer for the iPhone 5) for their flagship device," he confides. "Gold simply seemed too gaudy, perhaps even tacky. But a few compelling arguments countered my disbelief. And now, upon checking, sure enough, there will be gold."

There will be gold.

IMore's Rene Ritchie also backed away from gaudiness, swapping a gaudy mockup for the much more restrained champagne version.

"According to our own Ally Kazmucha, who's no stranger to the process, gold is among the easiest colors to anodize onto an iPhone," Ritchie said. "It involves simple chemical reaction, with the possible addition of dye depending on the exact color they want to produce. (True black, conversely, is the hardest, and takes the most time, which is likely why we currently have "slate" instead.)"

But what's the motivation, Ritchie wonders?

"Given how popular gold is as an aftermarket option for color-treatments, and how many gold cases there are - including but certainly not limited to the Asian markets - it could simply be the decision to offer supply where there's demand," he concludes.

Or Apple could be pandering to another audience entirely. "Given the ignorant boring comments Apple had to endure after introducing the completely re-built iPhone 5 last year, gold would give the market the superficial appearance of change they seem to crave," Ritchie said.

Later in the week, TheVerge, among others, posted "leaked" photos of The Gold iPhone, pulled from their original posting at a Japanese-language website. 

"Photos purporting to show the phone have trickled out online, though the images published today on Japan's ASCII website look far more convincing than earlier leaks," explained TheVerge's Amar Toor, oblivious to the fact that we live in the Adobe Photoshop Age, or to online workshops on "How to Draw a Photorealistic iPhone 4 in Photoshop," which have far more convincing results.

And still more photos, a veritable tsunami of images, appeared on the eponymous website, SonnyDickson.com, named for a Melbourne, Australian who is trying to make a business of posting photos of Apple prototypes. His latest batch shows rear housings, screens and various unnamed parts of both The Gold iPhone 5S side by side with a robin's-egg-blue plastic iPhone 5C.

Perhaps predictably, the blizzard of posts and pictures sparked a reaction. Mashable's editor-in-chief, Lance Ulanoff, let it be known that "This fascination with iPhone colors confounds me."

It's "irrational," he says. "[I]t's only a stinkin' color."

And we don't need no stinkin' colors.

"It's a fashion statement....If that's the case, what does a gold iPhone 5S say about you? That's you're classy? Fun? Rich? Perhaps it'll also say 'you're lucky,' since the gold iPhone 5S will probably be murder to get ahold of for its first few months."

"Call me old school, but I like to think about what's inside the phone," Ulanoff says. Judge a smartphone not by its outward appearance, or at least by its stinkin' color.

"Personally, I don't give a hoot about a gold iPhone," Ulanoff hoots. "Mashable will continue to report on gold iPhone rumors, since our readers seem to care." The bane of online editors-in-chief everywhere: being forced to cover those things that irrational, color-crazed, fashion-obsessed, superficial, fickle, and let's face it stupid readers demand to know about.

"I will not be making a big deal of it otherwise," he vows. "Except for writing this post. Which is really about how I don't care about the gold iPhone. Is that clear?"

[Ulanoff simply doesn't appreciate the mystical hold of color. As is clear in the 2010 satire, "iMoby: the hunt for the great white iPhone," by Herman Cox.]

John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.Twitter: http://twitter.com/johnwcoxnwwEmail: john_cox@nww.com

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