Photo: AP Images
A lot of people are disappointed because Apple didn’t announce a new-looking phone called the iPhone 5.Instead, it released the iPhone 4S, which has updated guts, including a faster dual-core processor and new camera, and a new voice-controlled personal assistant app called Siri. But it looks exactly the same as the iPhone 4, which came out last June — more than 15 months ago.
That’s an eternity in tech time.
The iPhone 4S will also be the first phone to ship with iOS 5, a new operating system that will offer a ton of useful features like iCloud (for automatically backing up data) and Twitter integration. But iOS was announced at Apple’s big developer event this summer, so it’s not really new. Plus, iOS 5 will be run on older models, all the way back to the 3GS, which was released in June 2009.
So what is Apple thinking? Was there some manufacturing screw-up? Has Apple just run out of ideas?
Not at all. It is simply continuing forward with its biggest hit product ever.
The iPhone 4 is not only the best-selling model of iPhone ever. It’s also selling FASTER now than it was a year ago. Check out the numbers from Apple’s earnings reports:
- April – June 2011: 20.34 million iPhones sold
- January – March 2011: 18.67 million (Verizon deal introduced)
- October – December 2010: 16.24 million (this was the holiday season, when sales are usually highest)
- July – September 2010: 14.1 million (first full quarter in which the iPhone 4 was on sale)
- April – June 2010: 8.4 million (artificially depressed because the iPhone 4 didn’t come out until June, and people were probably waiting)
That’s what a successful product looks like.
Why mess with it by introducing a new design that some people might hate, and that the people who bought the iPhone 4 in the last year can’t get anyway because they’re locked into a carrier contract (excluding hardcore tech fans and Apple geeks with lots of money to throw away)? And which, by the way, would increase manufacturing costs as Apple has to add a new production line for the new form factor.
A big reason why iPhone 4 sales accelerated this year was the introduction of Verizon in February.
So all Apple really has to do to keep sales growing is add another carrier — which it did with Sprint, who reportedly has already committed to buying 30.5 million iPhones over the next four years WHETHER IT CAN SELL THEM OR NOT.
Now Apple can continue to ride the iPhone 4 wave out another six months to a year, and then introduce the iPhone 5 — just in time to pick off all the early iPhone 4 buyers whose contracts are starting to expire.
Today’s announcement may have lacked the magic of Steve Jobs, but it had the pure business calculation of Tim Cook.
It was also a cocky dare to Google-Motorola, Samsung, Microsoft-Nokia and everybody else in the smartphone business: the iPhone 4 is killing it. Catch us if you can.