No iPhone 5 ’til Christmas: A plan not a problem

April 5th, 2011 § 0 comments

iPhone 5 Delayed

There will be a white one

There have been a number of high quality rumors and reasonable speculation that there will be no new iPhone this summer as there has been every year since the iPhone launched. It appears that Apple has told it’s PR folks to “leak” the fact that there will be “no hardware announcement at WWDC”.

Of course Apple will not confirm this and even if they did they would never explain why, so the speculation is of course rampant. There is a general debate between whether this is a hardware issue1 or a software one2. Gruber tends to think it’s a hardware problem and if there is indeed a problem then I would be inclined to agree with him. I am not so sure there is a problem though.

Some think that Apple is holding off on their launch so they can incorporate LTE 4G technology but I find this to be a rather naive supposition. Not only are the 4G networks still nascent but the battery life one gets from some 4G phones is atrocious. Can you imagine having a phone that only lasted 4.5 hours of normal use? Not streaming video that entire time but simply using the phone. I would not stand for it and I’m certain Apple won’t either. Either batteries have to improve or the 4G chips have to get a lot more efficient before Apple is going to incorporate it into their devices.

I’ve always liked Apple’s one year release cycle despite the grumblings of some. If you purchase a new iPhone you always know where you stand. If they release a new iPhone one month later then shame on you. You can’t be upset that your $300 purchase was made obsolete because if you care enough about such things then you know Apple releases a phone every summer. And therein lies the conundrum; why in the summer?3

It has always seemed to me that the iPod fall product announcement schedule was a much more apt time of year for such a thing. It’s right before the holiday season and with lots of competitors announcing their new products yours doesn’t feel stale to the consumer. I think even Android fans would agree that an iPhone announcement at this time would roundly drown out all other smart phone events. Best of all you can ride all that consumer excitement right through the holidays. I’m probably in a minority but by the time Christmas comes around I start thinking seriously about delaying any iPhone purchase until Summer.

So now Apple finds itself fresh off a very successful iPad 2 release and, while most consumers may not realize it, they actually did release new iPhone hardware in February4. Nobody really knows how successful that launch was but I’m sure Verizon would appreciate a little additional breathing room between phones. Having all of your customers feel like they got the short end of the stick when a new iPhone comes out 4 months later is never welcome. Cap all that off with the possibility that it may be in the best interest of Steve Jobs’ health to relax this summer5 and you start  to have some pretty compelling excuses to do something Apple may have wanted for a while; move the iPhone release date closer to Christmas.

  1. e.g. Problems with the supply chain that prevent them from manufacturing enough iPhones before June or perhaps a late stage hardware design problem []
  2. iOS 5 is taking too long to develop and the new hardware requires it []
  3. Perhaps this is merely a holdover from their initial decision to announce the first iPhone during the summer and at $600 holiday shoppers probably weren’t going to be stuffing them in stockings. This left them in the awkward position of not being able to delay the next revision because of the rapidly changing smart phone market yet not wanting to move the release further from Christmas. []
  4. One could argue that this is a cause for the iPhone 5 hardware delay but I’m not buying it. I suspect they have been planning this CDMA phone for a long time and have always taken the technology into consideration when designing their hardware []
  5. It’s not just a 2 hour announcement. If Steve is anything like the perfectionists I know he spends a couple weeks if not a month preparing for that product announcement. []


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