It sounds like Apple’s iPhone rollout is going to happen a little later this year.While some may see this as an “un-Apple like” “delay,” this habit-breaking might actually be a good thing — for would-be iPhone buyers, Apple fans, and investors.
Why? Because Apple needs another smartphone breakthrough, like the first iPhone was in 2007.
A look around the smartphone industry shows that Apple’s iPhone 4 is still the best all-around product on the market, in terms of hardware, software, apps, etc.
But Apple’s lead is shrinking. Rivals, powered by Google Android, have gotten close, product-wise. And Android has already overtaken Apple in market share, fuelled by widespread operator distribution.
If Apple wants to extend its lead, it eventually needs a major update that will leave the copycats scratching their heads.
Perhaps that’s what’s taking so long.
Specifically, it sounds like Apple will wait to reveal its next iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 5, until June at its Worldwide Developers Conference. For context, this has happened in March or April the past three years.
Then, it might not launch the new iPhone hardware until later this year, or maybe not even until next year. This has traditionally happened right after WWDC, in June or July, since Apple started shipping the iPhone in 2007.
If true, there could be many reasons for this shift in schedules.
Apple may simply be rotating its product launches to make the iPhone release closer to the holidays, its biggest sales period. (In the meantime, this could potentially hurt summer sales, during the typical launch period, would could force analysts to lower their June or September quarter estimates.)
Apple may actually be delayed due to Steve Jobs’ medical leave, extra time spent on the new Mac OS X Lion, production problems, or whatever. (That wouldn’t be a good thing, if it becomes a habit.)
Or Apple may need more time because it’s doing more work than in the past few years, to make the iPhone a radically better product, through new components, software, and services.
At TechCrunch, MG Siegler has a good wrapup of what could be coming:
- “iTunes in the cloud” — a launch of a bunch of new cloud services for the iPhone, potentially including music, video, social stuff, location, etc.
- A whole new layer of “artificial intelligence and assistance technology” built into iOS 5, based on Apple’s acquisition of Siri.
- 4G network support — faster Internet access, better video streaming, etc. — because of new, better LTE components becoming available. Potentially very useful for all the new cloud syncing and/or network-based services built into the phone.
Add those up, and it could be one heck of an iPhone update.
And it had better be. Because there’s only so much more mileage Apple could get just by making the iPhone 4 thinner, giving it more storage capacity, better video chip, etc.
Instead, this sounds more promising — like Apple could potentially have another breakthrough product, which could take the Android camp more than a year to replicate.
And that would be worth the wait, for everyone involved.
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