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Rumor: Apple May Release iPhone Mini in 2014

The latest Apple rumor to appear just days after the New Year is the possibility of an iPhone Mini, an idea that has been around since the launch on the original iPhone. However this latest speculation installment seems to back up a previous report that the next iPhone will arrive with multiple screen sizes to address a larger market.

Strategy Analytics is the latest source behind the iPhone rumor, reporting that Apple may be forced to release a smaller iPhone to better compete with Android giant Samsung. The firm states that the miniature iPhone will need to be released within the next three years to address the "hundreds of millions" of prepaid users who simply can't afford the current model.

"The iPhone 5 is growing fast and profitably right now, so there is little incentive for Apple to launch an ‘iPhone Mini’ this year," said Neil Mawston, the Executive Director at Strategy Analytics.

On Friday Strategy Analytics told Reuters that Samsung is expected to widen its lead over Apple in global smartphone sales by as much as 35-percent in 2013 alone, bolstered by its broad product lineup. The firm speculates that Samsung may sell up to 290 million smartphones in 2013, up from the 215 million units sold in 2012.

On the Apple front, sales are expected to reach only 180 million units in 2013, up 33-percent from 2012 and slightly trailing Samsung's 35-percent increase. Thus, Apple will command an estimated 21-percent market share in 2013 while Samsung will command an estimated 33-percent market share. That said, it would be easy to assume that Apple would be eager to address both Samsung and Android's dominance by offering an iPhone to the prepaid market.

Mawston acknowledged the previous report provided by Brian J. White, a researcher at Topeka Capital Markets. It was White who said Apple will likely release the iPhone 5S somewhere around April 2013 that will offer multiple screen sizes and colors. Mawston said this type of multi-unit launch would eventually open the door to the iPhone Mini, but not this year.

"We expect the iPhone Mini to be more likely next year, in 2014 when ... Apple will be forced to discover fresh growth streams," Mawston said.

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