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Apple Inc. may be developing lower-cost flavours of its iPhone smartphone in order to attract attention of the mass market, an analyst said in a note to clients. If this is truth, then even large makers of cell phones may need to start to worry, as if the iPhone faces similar success like the iPod, the numbers could exceed several hundreds of million units.

Apple, the company which had moderate success with its own-brand personal computers, but who managed to capture the lion’s shader of digital music players market, has never said it expected the upcoming iPhone to capture a huge chunk of the market. Nevertheless, looking at the 100 million of iPod players sold, it can be expected that the company does have ambitions to sell a huge amount of various iPhone models eventually.

“Apple needs to round out its iPhone product line at lower price points (similar to iPod) if it expects to replicate the success of its iPod with sales of 100 million units,” said American Technology Research analyst Shaw Wu in a research note, reports TechWhack web-site. The market observer also said that he had received information about “lower cost iPhone prototypes for release at unspecified future dates”.

The current version of Apple iPhone, which will go on sale later this month, is equipped with touch-screen instead of keypad, something never before available on handhelds. Besides, Apple iPhone includes support for quad-band GSM, EDGE, 802.11b/g Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.0 EDR wireless technologies. The iPhone features a 2 megapixel (2MP) camera and a photo management application. The iPhone, however, is not small: it features a 3.5” screen that makes the device a relatively bulky. Apple iPhone will be available in the U.S. in 4GB and 8GB versions that will cost $499 and $599, respectively.

Apple expects to sell 10 million iPhone cell phones in 2008, which is not a significant number for the market that is about to exceed one billion units sold annually. However, the success of Apple’s iPod media players was primarily conditioned by availability of inexpensive iPod mini, iPod nano and iPod shuffle models. As a result, analysts generally believe that Apple will eventually broaden the lineup of its iPhone handsets.

Apple has sold about 100 million iPod players in approximately six years time. Considering that music-oriented mobile phones outsell digital media players by the factor of three and that the market of any digital devices is growing, then target unit count for the iPhone could be 300 million or over in five or six years.

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