Does the iPad open the door for an iPhone nano?

iPadWedge2Earlier I commented that the iPad expands Apple’s mobile platform upward, giving higher-end, premium-priced apps a venue apart from the larger, crowded, competitive, price-slashed iPhone app market. But for every action there is an equal but opposite reaction. Thus, I wonder if Apple’s next step will be to expand downward with a smaller, feature light iPhone, i.e., an iPhone nano.

As a phone, the iPhone is the easiest I’ve ever used. Not just compared to other mobiles, but easier than modern landline phones too. I never had to learn where buttons are or what icons mean. The system is idiot-proof. This has led me many times to say that Apple should release a stripped down iPhone focused on calls. Yes, I know that seems counter-intuitive given that the entire industry is headed in the other direction, but maybe the iPad makes it a viable option.

A common reaction to the iPad has been “Why do I need one if I already have an iPhone and a Macbook?” Well, what if you didn’t have an iPhone or other smartphone? What if all you had was a plain old voice and text phone? In that case, there is a void that a tablet for web, email and other data might fill (with a monthly rate the same as adding data to a voice plan).

The smartphone + notebook combo works great if you’re a power user. But what if you’re not? What if you want your phone to work primarily as a phone, delivering voice and text all-day, and want a decent-sized screen to view maps, eBooks, and movies? In this case, a better pairing would be phone + tablet, or iPhone nano + iPad.

Furthermore, the partnering of iPhone nano + iPad doesn’t have to be limited to the conventional division of duties. The nano might be without mobile broadband, but it could use Bluetooth to shuffle data between it and the iPad, allowing pass-through notifications, use as a remote control, and data syncing. You can’t do that with a notebook sleeping in a bag, but it could work with an always-on device like the iPad.

As the iPad leads the App Store toward premium apps, an iPhone nano would push the other way, giving the super-simple freebie apps a place of their own.

This is, of course, pure speculation on my part. I have no inkling as to whether Apple has an iPhone nano in the works, with or without those advanced sync features. Regardless, I think there is an opportunity here for a new device pairing scenario. If Apple does not release a stripped down iPhone to complete the pair, someone else could step in with a phone to do the job or even a phone + tablet pairing of their own.