Apple's iPhone 5 is launching Sept. 21, ringing in what could be the biggest technology launch of the year. Moreover, according to some analysts, Apple could sell as many as 10 million iPhone 5 units during its first weekend of availability, making it the biggest smartphone launch this year.
Competitors, meanwhile, will be sitting on the sidelines watching consumers flock to stores worldwide to get Apple's device. In the meantime, other manufacturers' devices will remain on store shelves, bypassed by the legion of consumers eyeing only Apple's products. Indeed, it'll be a sobering weekend for Apple's challengers.
But perhaps the introduction of Apple's own iPhone 5 can be an educational opportunity for smartphone makers. From the iPhone's design to its launch schedule, there are many ways for competing manufacturers to learn how to create and sustain a successful smartphone brand.
Here are some lessons vendors can learn from the iPhone 5.
1. 4G LTE is a necessity
When it was only the iPhone 4S on store shelves, it was just fine for competing vendors to leave 4G Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology out of their products. But now that the iPhone 5 has delivered it, customers will think less of any products that don't offer the ultra-high-speed option.
2. Reviewers drool over design
Positive reviews matter immensely in the technology space. If a product gets a glowing review from several sources, it'll likely be successful. If it gets negative reviews, it could fail. The iPhone 5 earned high marks nearly universally. One of the chief reasons for that was its design: Reviewers adore the way the iPhone 5 looks. Although competing vendors can't copy the iPhone 5's look, they can certainly come up with something of their own that's impressive. Doing so might just help their products get noticed by more folks.
3. Build a consistent experience
Over the last five years, Apple has done a fine job building a brand behind its iPhone. Consumers know what they're getting from an Apple product because the company has built a familiar experience around its smartphone. Other handset makers, however, have largely failed to do that. To them, pumping out as many smartphones as possible sits at the center of that strategy. That needs to change. Now, more than ever, Apple's competitors need to create a true "brand" around their products and deliver something interesting and appealing that folks won't find elsewhere.
4. Say so long to 3-inch displays
The iPhone 5 comes with a 4-inch display, trumping the 3.5-inch flavor found in the iPhone 4S. What does that mean for other vendors? The 3-inch display is all but dead. While Apple wasn't first to go to larger screens, its move to a 4-inch screen in the iPhone 5 validates the move for all others in the mobile space who must now match or top that in their products.