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BLOG: Analysts offer 'iPhone mini' antidote to Apple's Samsung problem

Jonny Evans | Jan. 7, 2013
If nothing really changes, Samsung is expected to widen its lead against Apple[AAPL] this year, according to Strategy Analytics. But will things stay the same, or will 2013 be the year the iPhone company changes the rules with an iPhone mini and more frequent product upgrades?

Yes, but...

Pros and cons to all these predictions can easily be found. One primary concern will be Apple's focus on fragmentation within the Android market. Will it be willing to impose its own slight fragmention by offering its devices in a diverse range?

Some change-resistant critics will likely argue that Apple has no need to widen its market: that it currently makes more profit than any other smartphone maker; has a huge audience of loyal (and happy) iPhone users; that it sets trends rather than slavishly following the dictate of analysts or competitors. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it," in other words.

However, change-resistance quickly becomes complacency; lack of product release anticipation becomes boring; the ability to distil, master and release devices which capture the international zeitgeist has become synonymous with most people's perception of Apple. The company is neither afraid of change, nor of cannibalizing its own markets in order to secure a firmer grip across wider strategic objectives (cf. iPad mini).

If it can think it, and make a difference doing it, then it will execute a plan. One thing it can't do, however, is stand still. The success of its fleet-footed Android enemy highlights the kind of risks it faces: though, to be fair, the continued success of the iPhone -- a single device updated annually -- also highlights just how well the company does what it does: make new and exciting products discerning shoppers choose to acquire.

It's a stretch to imagine Apple executives truly believe making iPhones available in multiple colors will be enough to sustain the device's popularity. They may prefer more dramatic diversification.

The increasing frequency of chatter from Apple analysts predicting such changes is, however, a strong indication that 2013 will be the year the future of a wider iPhone range begins.

It might also mean Samsung's expectation of growing its smartphone grip may face a few challenges -- even before the FTC-approved Googleplex storms into action with its own range of Motorola Mobility Android devices.

Jonny Evans has been writing about Apple since 1999 and has won an American Society of Business Publication Editors (Azbee) Award in 2010.


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