Apple is unlikely to compete in that low-end market, partly because of the very thin margins it offers.
This is a big deal. Until now, Apple has confined itself to specific segments of the mobile device market, even thought it initially defined that very market. It may not have the overwhelming diversity that Samsung and other Android manufacturers offer, or that Microsoft and its partners offer for Windows Phone and Windows 8.x mobile devices, but it now has at least one product in each space.
Apple's more restrained lineup may be better for consumers because of its simplicity. When you set the eight devices next to each other, each hitting a slightly different size and set of uses, choosing between them is much easier because the differences are immediately obvious. The only real exceptions are the difference in specs between the iPhone 5C and 5S and between the iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina Display.
Apple has another ace up its sleeve: No matter the device, iOS is largely the same. There are no manufacturer or carrier-installed modifications, skins or proprietary apps as is common with Android. Apple has been clear about this dimension of its control over iOS with carriers since the original iPhone and doesn't allow so much as a carrier logo on its devices. One iOS device looks and feels like any other, regardless of size or specs.
Does this mean that Apple will dominate every one of these categories, or even just one of them? No, though iOS isn't that far off from the parity with Android in the U.S. market. (Most reports put it within about 10% of Android's roughly 50% dominance of the market.) What it does mean is that Apple now can compete in every major category. That should give some of its competitors pause, particularly now that Apple is competing in the phablet space for the first time. Form factor and price are no longer areas where Apple can be discounted any longer.
Apple's announcements this week are likely to be disruptive and push the mobile industry to innovate further and faster. Apple is showing that it is in this race to win it.
Sign up for MIS Asia eNewsletters.