Prior to Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference keynote, which took place in San Francisco June 6, rumors suggested the company would unveil the iPhone 5. They reasoned that Apple has typically used the conference to unveil a new iPhone, and this year would be no different. At the 2010 WWDC, for example, Apple showed off the iPhone 4.
But this time around, the company didn’t announce a new iPhone. Instead, it stayed on message, talking about Mac OS X “Lion,” its upcoming desktop operating system, as well as the update to its mobile operating system, iOS 5. In addition, Apple unveiled the long-awaited iCloud, a cloud-based service that allows iOS, Mac and PC users to store content on the Web and sync it across their many devices. Apple’s event was a decidedly software-only affair.
As expected, many fans were disappointed that Apple didn’t discuss the iPhone 5 at the event. But there are many good reasons for that.
Read on to find out what those reasons are:
1. The Verizon issue
After a long wait, Apple launched its iPhone on Verizon’s network earlier this year. That could be one of the main reasons the company balked at announcing the iPhone 5 at WWDC. Apple’s smartphone has been on store shelves at Verizon for just a few months. To release a new iPhone now would potentially hurt Verizon’s current sales and negatively impact Apple’s development cycle. The smart move would be to release a Verizon and AT&T version of the iPhone 5 early next year when consumers have had their current devices for a relatively long time, and they’ll be more willing to opt for Apple’s latest device.
2. The white iPhone was just released
Though Apple announced the white iPhone at last year’s WWDC, the device didn’t finally hit store shelves until April. By launching a new iPhone 5 now, Apple would potentially cause trouble with those customers who bought the white iPhone believing the company wouldn’t offer a new smartphone so soon after a launch. Apple needs to give the white iPhone some time to appeal to consumers; it can’t cut it off just as it gets going.
3. Sales are still strong
When companies release new products, they do it for one basic reason: to drum up demand. For now, demand for Apple’s iPhone is quite high, and the company’s sales figures aren’t slowing down at all. During its fiscal second quarter, which it announced in April, Apple said that it sold 18.65 million iPhones, tallying a huge 113 percent unit-sales growth rate, compared with the same quarter in the prior year. If sales were slowing, Apple would have launched a new iPhone 5 at WWDC. But sales aren’t slowing, and Apple has the luxury of being able to wait.
4. The competition isn’t forcing its hand
Though Android continues to steal market share in the operating system market, no single Android, Windows Phone 7 or BlackBerry smartphone is beating Apple’s iPhone in sales. The reason for that is simple: They don’t offer the same features or consumer appeal as Apple’s alternative. Realizing that, Apple isn’t forced to release a new iPhone just yet. Until Apple finds a competitor that delivers something better than what it offers, there’s no reason to show off the iPhone 5.
Still Time to Talk About a New iPhone
5. 4G isn’t ready
Speculation abounds that Apple will bring 4G connectivity to the iPhone 5. After all, the company has always been on the cutting edge of new technology advancements, and 4G is one such technology. However, 4G is not as readily available today as it could be. Realizing that, it’s quite possible that Apple is waiting until 4G networks are capable of handling iPhone demand before it releases a new version of its smartphone.
6. Waiting on a major upgrade
When Apple unveiled the iPhone 4 last year, the company showed off one of the most impressive upgrades to a smartphone ever. That has certainly helped iPhone 4 sales. But for Apple, it could also be an issue. Consumers are now expecting major updates, and delivering incremental improvements might not do the job any longer. Recent rumors suggest the iPhone 5 will be another revolutionary upgrade. And as the iPhone 4 proved, delivering major upgrades takes time.
7. WWDC was about software
Although Apple has used its keynote at the Worldwide Developers Conference to unveil hardware in the past, the show is really about software. This year, Apple is releasing two important software updates in Mac OS X and iOS. Maybe this year, Apple wanted to stay true to what WWDC is all about and only talk software. There is still quite a bit of time for Apple to talk about a new iPhone.
8. iCloud couldn’t be overshadowed
Though iOS and Mac OS X played important roles in Apple’s keynote, it was the company’s upcoming cloud service, iCloud, that stole the show. The new offering allows Mac, PC and iOS users to store content in the cloud, and sync information across all the devices linked to their accounts. Considering the importance of cloud computing today, Apple might have wanted all the focus to be on iCloud. After all, if the company unveiled a new smartphone, all the attention would have been on that device, and not iCloud.
9. Investors are not demanding it
As a public company, Apple has a responsibility to shareholders to consistently deliver strong earnings and increase their value in the company. If investors were demanding major changes or new-product launches, Apple would likely need to follow suit if those demands made sense for the long-term success of the firm. But Apple investors weren’t demanding that Apple announce the iPhone 5 at WWDC. Even following its announcement, investors weren’t all that concerned. Those folks realize that the iPhone 4 is doing just fine, and offering an iPhone 5, while a nice idea, isn’t necessary.
10. Customer perception
Arguably one of Apple’s biggest issues over the years since the iPhone was first launched in 2007 has been customer perception. Consumers around the globe expect a new iPhone every summer, so as that time approaches, they hold back on buying a new smartphone to see what Apple offers. By not announcing the iPhone 5 this summer, Apple has thrown those folks a curve ball. Now, those who were waiting on the sidelines hoping for the iPhone 5 to appear might be more inclined to get an iPhone 4 now rather than wait weeks or months for the next update. Customer perception affects demand considerably and Apple could have made a genius move by keeping consumers guessing on when the iPhone 5 will launch.