Apple is at a crossroads. The iPhone is huge, but it has hit its plateau of growth. As it currently stands, the iPhone will capture no more of the market than it already holds. In order to keep growing and corner more of the smartphone market, Apple is going to need to appeal to a broader base of customers.
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The management over at Apple realizes this, and they've already started making plans to take the iPhone into the future. High-level executives at Apple recently sat down with analysts from Oppenheimer and discussed the future of Apple's core product lines. In a report about the meetings to company clients, Yarl Reiner wrote that;
"iPhone is still in its early days and could gain share by: providing more functionality; lowering prices; growing geographically; or segmenting the market with different models."
AppleInsider was able to get confirmation from Reiner that those remarks had come from Apple management themselves. Those possibilities are what Apple sees as its menu of options. It's doubtful they'll do everything, but we should see a few of these tried in the near future.
I am pretty certain that Apple will try to segment the market with a whole slew of iPhone models. Offering a wide variety of distinct smartphones would put Apple on even footing with BlackBerry, their primary competitor in the market at the moment.
As for increased functionality, I think that is referring to creating an even wider variety of apps for the new crop of iPhone users. The cheapest way for Apple to increase functionality across all models is to offer more and better apps that can be used by the whole array of Apple mobile devices. This will be the easiest thing for Apple to do, considering how healthy the current app market already is.
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Also contained in this report was the possibility of opening the iPhone up in several new foreign markets. "Growing geographically" might as well be the same as saying "opening up in China." China, and East Asia as a whole offers the largest growing middle class in the world. Between China and India there are hundreds of millions of potential new smartphone subscribers. If Apple wants to be more than just a localized fad, they'll have to cut into that market before things stabilize and start to solidify. Top 10 iPhone 2009 Rumors so far.