I’m not bored with my iPhone 5s. It still works just as well as when I first cracked the plastic. There are the issues of spontaneous reboots, but I lay that blame squarely at the feet of iOS 7. Despite it doing pretty much everything and more, it’s no longer magical. It’s a great phone, but I’m ready for something new. The calendar has just moved to February. Apple’s recent product release cycle would have most guestimate a September release for the iPhone 6, which sounds like an enternity. My ability to lose interest aside, there are some very good reasons why Apple needs to change things up and jettison the yearly cycle of new iPhones.
Last year, we saw Apple move away from selling just one new iPhone. Customers now have a choice. The 2013 options include the iPhone 5s or iPhone 5c. The iPhone 6, with its rumored large display, could further extend the product line. Not everyone is enamoured with the idea of a big 5-inch display. Apple knows this and it’s likely the reason why they’ve been so reluctant to go big. Competition in a way, has forced them into offering an iPhone with a larger display. By the end of this year, you could end up with three lines. Low-cost, 4-inch and 5-inch iPhones. While the yearly cycle worked well for one new iPhone, they could benefit from staggered releases throughout the year, helping to keep iPhones buzzworthy.
Telegraphing Their Next Move
When you are five years ahead of your competition, it doesn’t matter when you release your phones. The gap has closed and the competition has stepped up their game each and every year. For the last two years, Apple released the new iPhone in September. It could change this year, provided Tim Cook throws a curve ball, when he’s go-to pitch has been high heat.
By being extremely predicatable, it allows competiton to plan and execute marketing strategies that continue to pick off customers. Now granted, many come back, hat in hand. Why give companies like Samsung a clear advantage? If reports are true, Samsung is going to announce the Galaxy S5 on February 24th. For a certain sub-segment of customers, new-ness matters and that advantage will go to Samsung, for almost seven months. It’s another window for them to push bigger screens, supplemented by a new wave of marketing ‘the next big thing is already here’.
Waiting for iOS
I mentioned earlier that my iPhone 5s is wonderful, save for the sporadic crashes caused by iOS 7. Let’s be honest, it’s incredibly buggy. Maybe if they weren’t rushing it out in time for new hardware, the public release would have be more stable. New hardware doesn’t have to be handcuffed to new software. If Apple needs a few features to promote, this could be part of a point release, rather than jumping from 6 to 7 to 8. If an iPhone 6 came out next week, I’d buy it in heartbeat. Apple doesn’t need iOS 8 to sell new iPhones. Hardware can sell hardware.
Apple sold the most iPhones ever last quarter, 51 million to be exact. They certainly don’t need my advice. Chances are good they continue on this yearly cycle, sell a fair amount of iPhones throughout the year and have a blow-out during the end of 2014 when the iPhone 6 lands. While the yearly cycle has worked thus far, Apple throwing the occasional curve ball seems like a good idea.
Should Apple keep on the current iPhone release cycle or change things up?