Supplier to Ship Two Apple iPhones in September

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By Lorraine Luk and Ian Sherr

Apple Inc. has asked assembler Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. to begin shipping both a new high-end and low-end iPhone in early September, people familiar with the matter said.

The shipping plans suggest consumers could soon have access to two new iPhone models, pointing to a strategy shift as Apple attempts to regain its momentum in the smartphone market. The company hasn’t previously announced different iPhone models around the same time.

Apple’s suppliers in Asia started mass-producing components in June for both a standard iPhone, featuring a metal casing, and a lower-cost version, people who work at those companies said.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Cupertino, Calilf., company has been unveiling new iPhones in the fall since 2011. It is planning a launch event on Sept. 10, according to AllThingsD, a news outlet that, like The Wall Street Journal, is owned by News Corp. It isn’t clear whether Apple would launch both iPhones the same day or initially choose to showcase just one device.

New iPhones in the past have become available about a week and a half after their unveiling.

Competitors are planning to ramp up pressure by launching new products of their own around the same time.

Samsung Electronics Co., the largest smartphone maker in the world by shipments, is planning an event on Sept. 4, during which it plans to launch a new large-screen Galaxy Note phablet—or mobile device that has functions of a phone and a tablet—and a smartwatch called Galaxy Gear, people familiar with the matter have said.

Apple has been facing tough competition from Samsung and other firms making smartphones based on Google Inc.’s Android software. A perception that Apple’s pace of innovation has slowed, along with some uncharacteristic missteps by the company, helped push its shares down more than 40% in the span of six months from all-time highs of more than $700 in September. The company’s shares have since rebounded to above $500.

 

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(Published Aug 20, 2013, in The Wall Street Journal.)