When Will Apple Release the iPhone 5?
By Chris on May 16, 2011
Some things we’ve come to expect as inevitable. The sun comes up every morning. It will be unbearably humid soon in DC. Apple will update its iPhone offering every summer.
You can see the last two years of this cycle through coverage of iPhone product release discussion in online media:
However, it seems Apple is shaking things up in 2011. The significant spike in early in the year is, of course, a result of the the Verizon iPhone launch. And the absence of an expected bump in June?
Recent reports say AT&T has confirmed that there is no new iPhone planned for release this summer:
So, since a June or July release date seems to be out of the question, we can analyze speculative chatter about the actual release date. Below is a view of iPhone product release events over the rest of the year seen in Recorded Future:
The jury clearly is out although the rumors are lumped into three distinct time clusters: June, September and sometime in Q4 during the holiday season. While a report from Slashgear, which in the same post correctly predicted the upcoming white iPhone 4 launch, suggests we’ll see a Q4 2011 iPhone 5, the dominant timeframe is September, which today is referenced by 22 sources:
So while it now seems pretty clear from AT&T’s statement that a new iPhone won’t emerge until at least September, what does Apple stand to gain from a September (or later) release?
There seem to be a few answers:
- By holding off on any formal announcement, it ensures that Apple produces a fully stocked product line (see component shortages caused by the Japan earthquake) and lower risk for product defects a la “Antennagate.” The company shouldn’t feel rushed to market after selling 18.65 million iPhones in Q2 and actually posting gains on Android in the smartphone market as the iPhone accounted for 28 percent of all smartphones sold.
- Creating a product that remains relevant for another 12-month cycle. This almost certainly requires 4G capabilities and possibly built-in NFC technology in order to stave off defections to Android devices. Reports in January suggest that new components from Qualcomm and TI would allow for 4G LTE capability “by the fall.”
- The market for Apple regulars could still use priming. As we noted above, Verizon iPhone users only picked up the device in February (at earliest) and the white version of the iPhone just appeared several weeks ago. For any of those purchasers, a little more time may make them willing to shell out for an upgraded device.
The biggest risk of an off cycle release stems from the fact that the competition in the smartphone market is increasingly fierce and ratcheting up fast given advancement and diversity of Android. Regardless of when the iPhone 5 is actually released, how badly would the market punish the company if Android inhibits the same home run sales that are now expected from a company priced for perfection?
Want to conduct similar analysis of expected product releases? Check out pricing and plans for our Premium web application. You can see below how we went about some of the research for this post: