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iPhone rumor rollup for the week ending May 9

John Cox | May 12, 2014
The iOSphere was rocked by iPhone 6 Sticker Shock, at about 10+ on the Richter scale, when one "report" this week predicted that the Next iPhone will cover its 5.44-inch display with a synthetic sapphire sheet that will boost the phone's unlocked price to $1,285.

"We modeled a $17 cost initially for the finished part [i.e., for an iPhone display cover]," says Eric Virey, senior market and technology analyst for LED devices and materials at Yole. Adding in margins for the various supply chain partners, "We expect Apple to initially pay around $20 per part," he says. "That's a significant increase compared to an equivalent part made of Gorilla Glass, which should cost around $3."

If Apple releases sapphire for only a high-end iPhone model, and not for the c' variant, it could possibly pass the cost to the buyer in the form of a higher price. Or Apple could absorb the costs itself, reducing the iPhone's margin and hence its profitability at least temporarily. Virey notes that some of the added costs could be offset by savings in warranty costs due to fewer cracked iPhone screens that have to be replaced.

Apple is treating sapphire as a strategic material, in quantities too vast to be used by an "iWatch," no matter how many were sold. But at this point, it is completely unclear whether Apple intends to introduce sapphire covers in 2014 or 2015 products, or whether they might initially be limited to some kind of "super premium" iPhone with a higher price tag.

AppAdvice's Bryan Wolfe dismissed the GForGames account. "While it is entirely possible that Apple would charge this amount for an iPhone 6 phablet, I don't buy it," he wrote. "Just last week, for example, the company dropped the price for the entry-level MacBook Air to $899. This compares to $849 for an unlocked 64GB iPhone 5s."

But that's not a very convincing line of reasoning. Few, if any, buyers are going to conclude that, because the MacBook air is just $50 more than an unlocked 5s, it's a better buy. That's because they "hire" the phone for a different job than the laptop, and most iPhones are sold (at least in the U.S.) with some kind of carrier subsidy.

iPhone 6 will be available in August

Taiwan's Economic Daily News reports that Apple will unveil and release an iPhone 6 model with a 4.7-inch screen in August, or at least one month earlier than expected, according to a rehash of that story by Reuters.

No link was provided to the EDN story and The Rollup couldn't find one to the Chinese language original. Founded in 1967, the Economic Daily News was the first economic and business newspaper in the Republic of China, covering local, regional and international economic and financial news, currently with a circulation of about 368,000.

EDN based its reporting on "unidentified supply-chain sources," according to Reuters' Michael Gold.


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