By John Biggs
As we approach the potential hour of power this June when Steve Jobs will come down from his mountain fortress bearing the new iPhone, this time with magnetometer and 3.2-megapixel camera or whatever, I keep wondering something: Will anyone buy it?
Under a decade ago it wasn’t unusual for folks to buy the latest Nokia - one after the other - simply because of the feature set offered by each subsequent model. In about 2002 or so, you’d see folks jumping from the black and white screen to the color screen to the VGA camera to the 1-megapixel to the pseudo-smartphone. Those days are gone.
Apple (AAPL) owns about 17% of the smartphone market. Early adopters could feasibly buy a phone a year. But are incremental upgrades between the iPhone 3G and the iPhone ]I[ or whatever it will be called enough to convince the 30% of iPhone 3G buyers who switched to AT&T just for the phone - mostly from the Moto RAZR - to upgrade?
Apple is obviously convinced they will. They’re buying up flash memory and planning on making about 100 million new iPhones this year. Heck, they’re even throwing a tablet into the mix. My only concern is this: once the Apple story gets old (Amazing UI! Great features! It’s Apple!), will the feature phones on the low end get more attention. In tough times it’s hard to drop three bills on a new iPhone, no matter how many magnetometers it contains. Your thoughts?