This year is especially meaningful for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), as it marks the iPhone's 10th birthday. We've already seen plenty of rumors about what the company may have in store -- potentially three different models, including a $1,000 version with an OLED display -- and there has been much speculation on whether or not Apple would use the opportunity to change its naming conventions; numbered iPhones stopped making sense a long, long time ago.
For instance, the current trend would call for the forthcoming 10th-generation model being named the "iPhone 7s." Celebrating 10 years and over 1.1 billion cumulative units sold with something like "iPhone X" also has a nice ring to it, and this has been one of the more widely speculated names. How about "iPhone Edition"?
An iPhone by any other name
Japanese Apple blog Macotakara is reporting a rumor that "iPhone Edition" is being considered for the high-end model for 2017. The company is reportedly prototyping various models with different feature sets, some lacking home buttons, and others using a new glass and aluminum chassis. Apple might potentially even use white ceramic.
This would make sense for a number of reasons. Apple Watch Edition has always been the company's most expensive member of the Apple Watch family, even if Apple pulled away from $10,000-plus models made out of gold in favor of an eye-catching white ceramic for Apple Watch Edition Series 2, which starts at a relatively more affordable $1,250.
The company notes that ceramic is more than four times as hard as stainless steel, so using ceramic could bolster the durability and improve scratch-resistance if it were used for an iPhone. Speculation of a ceramic iPhone commenced immediately after Apple unveiled Apple Watch Edition Series 2 last September. Apple already uses the "Edition" moniker to denote its most premium version (at least if you don't include the iPhone SE, which stands for "special edition"), so unifying the branding while ditching the numbering scheme could go hand in hand.
Better be worth it
All of that being said, Apple is still expected to call the less-expensive models the iPhone 7s and 7s Plus, so maybe the whole numbering thing isn't ready to die quite yet.
Expectations are running high for this year's product cycle, particularly as shares are currently trading at all-time highs after a two-year malaise. Shares aren't particularly expensive at 16.7 times earnings and 1.2 times sales, but they're more expensive than they've been in a long time.
If Apple is indeed planning on slapping a four-digit price tag on an "iPhone Edition" later this year (which would bode quite well for average selling prices), it will need to pack as many features and selling points into the device to justify that premium to consumers.
Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.