About those cheap iPhones that weren't, it turns out Apple's Phil Schiller might not have said the exact words that "they will never be the future."
Update 3:00 p.m.: So, Schiller never said anything about cheap iPhones to the Shanghai Evening News, turns out. He indicated the company would "make the best products" and "never blindly pursue market share," explains Reuters in an article about updates the Chinese newspaper made to its original story, which alleged Schiller said otherwise. The Chinese paper also removed any references to a cheaper smartphone and changed its headline from "Apple will not push a cheaper smartphone for the sake of market share," to "Apple wants to provide the best products, will not blindly pursue market share."
That new write-up leaves room for a more affordable phone in Apple's future. All Schiller indicates is that the company wouldn't do it without thinking it through. So, after all of that, the cheap iPhone rumor stands.
Original: Reuters has withdrawn a report, which quoted an interview with the Apple executive in the Shanghai Evening News, that seemed to debunk multiple reports this week that the company was developing a phone built with cheaper parts that could be available for as little as $99 by the end of the year.
Since wide coverage of the company's apparent dismissal of the rumor, the Chinese paper's story "was subsequently updated with substantial changes to its content," Reuters said in explaining why it took down its own story. What exactly those changes entail, remains unclear. A Chinese-language article dated January 9 is still hosted here. Some blogs suggest that this is the original article, with nothing changed. Based on Google's rudimentary Translate feature, it's hard to tell.
Apple had confirmed that Schiller's interview with the Shanghai Evening News was "official," a spokesperson told The Next Web. But that doesn't necessarily mean the paper got the quotes right, or that something wasn't literally lost in translation. The Next Web, which had some help translating, has not yet updated their post.
Schiller's on-the-record remarks came as a surprise in the first place. Apple doesn't often address rumors. Plus, the tech community seemed to be in the midst of convincing itself that a cheap iPhone made sense. People like Daring Fireball's Jonathan Gruber, who has close ties to all those mysterious sources we hear about, said things like "this doesn't mean Apple isn’t going to produce a cheaper iPhone" — even though a quote like the one Schiller gave the Chinese paper means exactly that.
The Reuters report suggests that Schiller's remarks may have been taken out of context, or simply that their reporter may have mistranslated the Shanghai Evening News We've reached out to Reuters for clarification on what kind of updates led to the story's removal and will update once we hear back.