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Developers welcome news of cheaper iPhone, as gadget makers converge on Consumer Electronics Show

Application developers have welcomed news Apple may be working on a cheaper version of the iPhone, saying it will open up the market and create a larger base for selling their programs.

Rumours of Apple’s cheaper iPhone have been circulating for years, but the report was given additional credence yesterday when The Wall Street Journal reported the company may indeed be moving forward on the project.

The announcement comes at an opportune time, as many of the world’s biggest gadget makers are gathered in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics Show, which has seen companies like Samsung and Panasonic unveil their latest and greatest models for the year.

Marc Edwards, the head of Melbourne-based app studio Bjango, says he’s enthusiastic about reports of a cheaper iPhone.

“I think it’s a great strategy,” he says. “It’s the same strategy we’re seeing in the iPad mini as well.”

“Making a smaller version of a product typically puts a fair bit of life into the category, and in any case, I don’t think it’s sustainable for Apple to keep the old phone on for a cheaper version of the model.”

Several factors may be pushing Apple to creating a cheaper version of the iPhone.

The first is an onslaught of cheaper models based on the Android platform. Already, Android maintains a larger market share because of its cheap handsets. While Apple continues to decry the poor quality of these phones, the market share makes it easier for app developers to gain a foothold.

Making a cheaper iPhone would allow the device to be available on more carriers, thus opening up the consumer base– including younger shoppers, who would be more likely to make frequent purchases on the App Store.

Such a shift would be a big move for Apple, which has generally favoured profit margins over a wide range of products.

Apple’s current selling structure has the older version of the iPhone as a “cheaper” version, but as Edwards says, creating a whole new model may encourage more sales.

“I think part of the reason Android sells so well is purely based on price and carrier availability. A cheaper iPhone could open that up.”

The Wall Street Journal reported, according to people “briefed on the matter”, Apple is pursuing a “big shift” in its corporate strategy. The device could launch later this year, it said, with possible plans including making the body out of plastic instead of metal to lower the cost.

The report comes at an opportune time, with the world’s gadget makers and press gathered in Las Vegas at the Consumer Electronics Show. Each year the biggest companies show off their wares for the coming year, including phones, tablets and some wackier inventions – like an oven running on Google’s Android system.

There have been hundreds of gadgets shown off at this year’s show, but here at SmartCompany we love a good list – so here are five of the best gadgets from the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.

1. Sony Xperia Z

ces-z

Sony hasn’t been one of the major contenders in the smartphone war, but its Xperia Z – which it claims to be water-resistant – could pose a threat.

2. Huawei’s Ascend Mate

Samsung pioneered the idea of a hybrid tablet/smartphone with its Note, and the Ascend Mate is following that idea with its own, larger design. Who knows if it’ll work, but at least it’s an interesting idea.

Oh, and apparently they’re now called “phablets”.

3. Samsung curved screen OLED television

The “next big thing” in technology will likely be flexible screen technology, and already Samsung is showing off some prototypes. These devices can use screens that extend to the very edge of a device, allowing for an optimum view at any angle.

4. Self-driving cars

Google has been working on self-driving cars for a while, but Toyota and Lexus showed off its own technology at this year’s CES. It seems self-driving cars may become a reality sooner rather than later.

5. Parrott Flower Power

ces-flower

This is a weird one, but worth having a look at – you stick this gadget into the soil of a house plant. The gadget then sends you notifications via iOS if it needs watering or any other care or attention. Weird, but useful.

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