The news comes courtesy of the controversial Apple vs Epic lawsuit in which many details about both companies have been revealed so far. An old email from Steve Jobs, dated October 2010, reveals that Apple was planning a low-cost version of the iPhone 4, dubbed the iPhone nano, similar to the iPhone 12 Mini.
As pointed out by The Verge, the 2010 email from Jobs doesn’t reveal much about the device and contains bullet points such as “iPhone nano plan.” It also includes sub-bullet points such as “cost goal” and “show models and renderings – Jony.” This indicates that Apple was working on a low-cost version of the iPhone 4, matching the rumors going around at the time.
They even had concepts ready to show as Apple’s former design chief, Johnny Ive, was supposed to show renders of the iPhone nano. Another bullet point under the 2011 Strategy mentions “creating low-cost iPhone model based on iPod Touch to replace 3GS.” There’s no confirmation if this refers to the same iPhone nano or a different product altogether.
Was iPhone nano a missed opportunity?
It seems Apple didn’t go ahead with its plan; else, we could have seen an entire line of iPhone nano products over the years. If we had been lucky, we could have seen its reveal in another one of those famous Steve Jobs keynotes. However, the only low-cost Apple product we had at that time was the iPod Nano running the iPod software, which was discontinued in 2017.
In recent years, Apple has also tried something similar with the iPhone SE and iPhone 12 Mini. Many would consider it a missed opportunity, seeing how well SE 1st Generation was received, although, 12 mini could make much noise. For customers, it is always better to have more options when buying a product.
The company adopted the Mini branding with the release of iPhone 12 Mini and HomePod Mini. With the iPhone 13 line-up expected to launch this fall, many expect to see it come with a Mini version. So, in one way, we can consider iPhone Mini to be the alternative version of Steve Jobs’s original vision of the iPhone nano.
The email is dated October 2010, but Steve’s health started to decline in the coming months, and announced his extended leave in January 2011. The absence of his leadership could be one of the reasons Apple didn’t go forward with the iPhone nano.
Apple vs Epic
This isn’t the first time the Apple vs Epic case has forced new info to come out. Previously, many emails from both companies have revealed insider info regarding the business strategies of these tech giants. The following are just some of the examples:
- Microsoft believes its true competitor is Tencent.
- Epic got the idea of bypassing Apple and the Google Play Store 30% cut from Tencent’s WeChat app.
- Epic funded the coalition between Epic, Spotify, Tinder and other developers to win the case.
- Apple and Microsoft allow certain developers to bypass its 30% cut.
- Both Apple and Microsoft have considered lowering the platform fees.
- Read here for more details.