As myths go, the budget iPhone is up there with unicorns and mermaids. It is the phone that could destroy or save Apple, depending on who you believe and, like the Loch Ness Monster, is pretty camera shy, until now.
Apple on the Turn
With Apple's stock price back in the $400s, and with those talking of a $1,000 per share presumably licking their wounds, the company itself hasn't put out a single press release in well over a month. With the tattle pages doing their job for them, Apple is releasing everything from a TV, to a watch, to an iPad mini-Retina and five different iPhones in the next few months.
Hard evidence is nigh on impossible to come by, but a picture provided by a Chinese case maker is the best evidence yet. It seems to suggest Apple will indeed be producing a budget model iPhone that uses a simply-styled, polycarbonate or plastic case (which will help keep costs down). They claim it was taken at a Foxconn factory, which won't put them in Apple's good books, but is the usual source of these leaks.
Not too far from the look of white iPhone 3GS, this phone might never see American shores, destined for emerging markets to counter the billion-odd cheap Android devices flooding those markets. It could be just a prototype and never see any store shelf, but it does indicate that Apple is looking at the option.
Aiming for Global Communications
With Nokia sales slowly on the rise, and other rivals focusing on ecosystems and niche features, and with progressive apps generating more interest than the hardware, Apple has plenty of time and money to get its mojo together. When that inevitable press release does drop, it could still surprise the market.
But, a phone is just a phone to most western eyes these days, a modestly priced iPhone in the billion-person markets of India and China, and other massive territories like Indonesia could see Apple planning for the future as those countries explode economically.
For western markets, it must be looking at iOS 7.0 as its next driver of sales, and needs to do something very special to get the stock price rising again. Until details of that upgrade arrive, things will remain pretty quiet in Cupertino's press office.