Apple Inc is working on new versions of the iPhone that are aimed at slowing the advance of competing handsets based on Google Inc’s Android software, according to people who have been briefed on the plans.
One version would be cheaper and smaller than the most recent iPhone, said a person who has seen a prototype and asked not to be identified because the plans haven’t been made public. Apple also is developing technology that makes it easier to use the iPhone on multiple wireless networks, two people said.
CEO Steve Jobs would use lower prices to widen the iPhone’s appeal and keep it from losing further ground to Android devices. Less expensive iPhones may also ratchet up pressure on Nokia Oyj, whose Symbian software is especially popular in Europe and some developing markets.
Natalie Kerris, a spokeswoman for Cupertino, California-based Apple, declined to comment.
Apple has considered selling the new iPhone for about US$200, without obligating users to sign a two-year service contract, the person who has seen it said.
While Apple aims to unveil the device near mid-year, the introduction may be delayed or scrapped, the person said. Apple often works on products that don’t get released.
The prototype was about one-third smaller than the iPhone 4 and it had no “home” button, said the person, who saw it last year.
Apple would sell it at a low price mainly because the smartphone will use a processor, display and other components similar to those used in the current model, rather than pricier, more advanced parts that will be in the next iPhone, the person said.