Schiller: Cheap iPhones Will "Never Be the Future of Apple"

Phil Schiller No Cheap iPhone

Cheap smartphones will “never be the future of Apple,” according to an interview of Apple’s marketing chief Phil Schiller by Chinese newspaper the Shanghai Evening News Thursday. Mr. Schiller’s remarks, translated by The Next Web, put a damper on recent rumors that the Cupertino company will launch a low-cost iPhone in the near future.

Mr. Schiller made his remarks to reporter Huang Yinlong during his trip to China with the company’s CEO Tim Cook. When asked about Apple’s product plans, the longtime Apple executive replied, according to the translation:

Every product that Apple creates, we consider using only the best technology available. This includes the production pipeline, the Retina display, the unibody design, to provide the best product to the market.

At first, non-smartphones were popular in the Chinese market, now cheap smartphones are more popular and non-smartphones are out. Despite the popularity of cheap smartphones, this will never be the future of Apple’s products. In fact, although Apple’s market share of smartphones is just about 20%, we own the 75% of the profit.

The notion of cheaper iPhone options targeted at both emerging markets and the entry-level segment in developed markets recently gained traction, first with analyst predictions, then with reports from suppliers, and finally with statements by major news outlets.

Following Mr. Schiller’s comments, however, news agency Reuters withdrew its initial reports discussing the allegedly forthcoming cheaper iPhone, citing "substantial changes" to the interview's translation. It is unclear what changes the news agency was referring to.

Those still anticipating a low-cost “iPhone mini” may not be entirely disappointed. Apple has a history of releasing products that company executives previously and explicitly denied, including video-capable iPods and the iPad mini. Whether Mr. Schiller will later downplay his comments based on variable definitions of “cheap” remains to be seen.

The recent trip by Apple executives to China has generated substantial interest over a possible China Mobile deal. The state-run carrier, the largest in the world by subscriber base, has yet to officially offer Apple products on its network, thus far ceding that market to smaller carriers China Unicom and China Telecom. Mr. Cook is reported to have met with both government officials and China Mobile executives during his trip, with sources suggesting that a deal between the companies will be reached by the launch of the next iPhone.