The iPhone 4S is scheduled to hit store shelves on Oct. 14. And when it does, the device will no doubt sell extremely well as consumers around the globe flock to stores to be first in line to get Apple’s newest smartphone.
Already, consumers have been getting in on the fun. On Oct. 10, Apple announced that the iPhone 4S has set a new preorder record, selling 1 million devices in a single day. Immediately, reports from analysts suggested that the iPhone 4S, based on those figures and the history of Apple’s product launches, will be an unbridled success that could overshadow all previous iPhone launches.
While it’s tough to argue with that, it’s not so tough to assert that Apple’s iPhone 4S might not be as successful as some think. Will it be a hit? Sure. But will it be a huge hit? Believe it or not, it might not be.
Read on to find out why:
1. There’s more to the preorder story
Much has been made about the iPhone 4S setting a new preorder record and eclipsing the mark set by the iPhone 4. However, it’s worth noting that the device’s 1 million preorders came from Sprint, AT&T and Verizon customers. The iPhone 4, on the other hand, saw preorders from AT&T alone. Considering that, it doesn’t appear that the iPhone 4S preorders were nearly as impressive as Apple wants folks to believe. If preorders aren’t all that impressive, what could that mean for future sales?
2. Consumers are still waiting on the iPhone 5
Let’s face it: The Oct. 4 Apple event to unveil the new iPhone was a downright disappointment. Prior to the show, rumors suggested Apple would show off an iPhone 5 that would come with a bigger display, near-field communication technology and much more. But it didn’t. Now, consumers are left with a device that is an iterative update over the iPhone 4 that might make them want to wait until the iPhone 5 launches. After all, they might be saying, it can’t be that far off, right?
3. iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 could hurt iPhone 4S sales
Apple’s decision to sell the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4 alongside the iPhone 4S is a smart move from a financial perspective. However, that decision could come back to haunt the company when it comes to iPhone 4S sales. After all, the iPhone 3GS is now available typically for free with a two-year carrier service contract, and the iPhone 4 can be purchased for as little as $99. Granted, they deliver less storage, but since they’ll run iOS 5 and are fine products in their own right, they might cannibalize some iPhone 4S sales.
4. Don’t look past the economy
It’s easy to see the iPhone 4S on store shelves and, considering Apple’s history, immediately assume the device will sell extremely well. But that scenario leaves out the fact that the world financial markets are still worried about the national debt crisis in Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy and elsewhere. With unemployment so high, there are millions around the globe who just aren’t willing to spend at least $200 on a new iPhone 4S. Depending on how the economy goes, Apple’s iPhone 4S sales could be weaker than expected.
Samsung Sales Are Catching Up
5. The iPad 2 is still out there too
Starting soon, people around the world will be heading to stores to mark some products off their loved ones’ wish lists. Many of those lists might have both the iPad 2 and iPhone 4S on it. Considering the aforementioned state of the economy, it’s highly unlikely many folks will get both. Shoppers hoping to get the best bang for their buck might just opt for the iPad 2 rather than the iPhone 4S. Apple might have taken a risk by launching the iPhone 4S so late in the year.
6. Android is a powerhouse
All this talk of Apple seems to leave out one key component in the company’s bid to get the iPhone 4S into as many hands as possible: Android. That operating system, while arguably not as nice as iOS 5, is still wildly popular with millions around the globe. Most analysts believe that its popularity will only increase over time. That alone could stunt the sales of the iPhone 4S.
7. Samsung is a major threat
Samsung has proved extremely success in the mobile market. In fact, the company is one of the top handset makers in the world, and its smartphone shipments are quickly gaining ground on Apple’s. What’s more, most agree that the company will prove to be the top competitor in the marketplace for the foreseeable future. Besides that, Google and Samsung are preparing to launch a Galaxy Nexus handset soon. These factors could mean trouble for the iPhone 4S.
8. If speed is the goal, it will fall short
One of the key selling points highlighted at the Oct. 4 iPhone 4S introduction was the iPhone 4S’ speed. Apple said that the device can reach downlink speeds of up to 14.4M bps to match many 4G devices. However, what Apple didn’t discuss is that those speeds are only possible on AT&T’s network. Verizon and Sprint owners of the iPhone 4S, on the other hand, will be forced to stick with 3G speeds. That’s a problem. It’s something that customers who want 4G-like speeds will need to think twice about.
9. The carrier advantage must be taken into account
When talking about the success of the iPhone 4S, most folks will likely take the raw unit sales at face value when Apple announces them. However, it’s important to not do that. Apple’s iPhone 4S is available on three carriers in the U.S. at launch. The iPhone 4 wasn’t available to Verizon customers until earlier this year and Sprint customers until this week. In other words, it’s important to consider the pent-up demand for iPhones on these carriers as the iPhone 4S hits the market. So, when Apple touts iPhone 4S sales, perhaps it’s a good idea to take them with a grain of salt and try to compare them fairly against predecessors. Upon doing so, those figures might not look so impressive.
10. Can Tim Cook do what Jobs did?
At the end of the day, the success of the iPhone 4S and all subsequent Apple devices comes down to Tim Cook and whether or not the company’s CEO can lead the firm as effectively as his predecessor. Apple’s iPhone is a success today due in large part to Steve Jobs. Cook, on the other hand was in Jobs’ shadow. Does Cook know how to properly make iPhone decisions? Can he market products correctly? Time will tell.