The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company and United Microelectronics Corporation will be the chip makers for the rumored entry-level iPhone nano, according to Digitimes. The article, citing China’s Economic Daily News rag, says the chip orders are to go through in March 2009 and the iPhone nano has an earliest release date of June.
Unfortunately we may not see the iPhone nano in North America. Brian Marshall, an analyst with American Technology Research, claims to know first-hand that AT&T is not testing such a device. He theorizes that it will launch with a non-US carrier, possibly in China, though he makes it clear he’s just theorizing.
It’s a plausible theory. Apple has been having a tough time getting the 3G iPhone into the Chinese market partly because of disagreements between China Mobile and the iPhone-maker regarding revenue sharing, and also because of technical issues. Until just recently, China wasn’t exactly a 3G-capable country. It had its TD-SCDMA homegrown third-generation network, but it was plagued with problems. Now that CDMA and WCDMA technologies will be licensed in the country, this problem is partly solved once the needed infrastructure is in place.
China is also a country paranoid about privacy–at the government level anyway–and I doubt an entry-level iPhone would have such ‘intruding’ features such as GPS.
From Apple’s perspective an entry-level phone would enable it to work on gaining market share in countries outside of the Western world. Nokia is the reigning handset manufacturer globally but has virtually no market share in North America. Just yesterday, Generator Research predicted that Apple would have a 40 percent global share of the smartphone market by 2013 while Nokia will only have 20 percent. This could happen if Apple hits the markets currently owned by Nokia with an entry-level device. Especially now when Apple has the greatest global ‘mindshare’ of the two.
Now if only some pictures would leak.
(Image Credit: Steve Webel)