Apple’s Cook Says iPhone Is Not Just A Rich Person’s Gadget

$100 Million iPhone Apps

Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) COO Tim Cook wants to make sure that Apple can reach the mass market with the iPhone.

Cook sat down with Bernstein Research analyst Toni Sacconaghi last week for a wide-ranging chat about Apple, according to a research note put out by Sacconaghi this morning and picked up by multiple outlets, including Forbes. While Apple is well known for pursuing the high end of the PC market with its Mac product strategy, multiple products and pricing strategies ensured the iPod became a mass-market gadget, and Cook implied Apple is going to try and duplicate that feat with the iPhone.

Apple is “not ceding any market,” Sacconaghi wrote in the note according to Forbes’ account. (A Bernstein representative did not immediately return an e-mail seeking a copy.) Cook also suggested that Apple wants to avoid having the iPhone be seen as a product “just for the rich.”

Google (NSDQ: GOOG) and its Android partners are aggressively going after a mass market with multiple products and pricing strategies around the world. Often that involves tackling the pre-paid mobile market, which Apple has not spent as much time worrying about given the success of the iPhone over the last several years.

That sounds like it could be changing, and could pave the way for lower-cost iPhones or different pricing strategies that avoid the standard two-year subsidized contract model common among many of Apple’s mobile partners. Sacconaghi also noted that Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer talked about plans to expand the number of carriers that feature the iPhone, from the 175 currently on board to something more like the 550 that carry the BlackBerry.

Over time, however, tablets could present as much if not more opportunity for Apple as the iPhone. Cook told Sacconaghi that he thinks tablets could represent between $60 billion and $100 billion in new business for just Apple over the next several years, and that “intense competition” from other companies could make for a pretty big pie.

Apple, of course, is expected to unveil the next version of the iPad Wednesday in San Francisco, and we’ll be there.

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