Analyst: Apple readies two iPhone models, for different geographic markets

Research firm predicts that Apple will shortly introduce two new iPhone models

An equity research firm is predicting that Apple will shortly introduce two new iPhone models, tailored for different geographic markets.

That's a somewhat different perspective from others who have predicted that the recent preview of the iPhone 3.0 operating system indicates that a new high-end model will be unveiled about mid-year. Instead, Daniel Amir, semiconductors analyst with Lazard Capital Markets, says in his report that a high-end phone will be sold in North America and a low-end model in several fast-growing overseas markets, such as Brazil, China, India and Russia.

The LCM analysis was picked up by AppleInsider's Katie Marsal.

The North American model will have video support, a better digital camera and 32GB of memory. The low-end version will lack video support, and possibly lack a Wi-Fi radio, and have less storage.

There's been speculation recently that several hardware IDs found in the 3.0 software beta hint at multiple new OS X-based mobile devices, including new models of iPhone, iPod Touch, and possibly entirely new products.

In the report cited by AppleInsider, LCM's Amir says iPhone shipments are much stronger than expected so far in 2009 and will continue so. He writes that first calendar quarter shipments could reach 4 million units, in part because of an exceptionally strong March, possibly reaching 1.5 million units. While analysts had been expected quarterly shipments to reach 3 million to 3.5 million, Amir is predicting 3.8 million to 4 million.

And he thinks that number could nearly double in the second quarter, though AppleInsider's Marsal noted the pace might not be sustained if buyers expect a mid-year release of a new model, and postpone buying the current iPhone 3G.

The 3.0 OS release, due out this year according to Apple, will offer more than 100 changes, and over 1,000 new APIs available to iPhone software developers. Among the base OS changes are support for copy/paste, and for being able to tether a laptop to the iPhone and use the phone to access the Internet.

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