The White iPhone

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The White iPhone

Apple says that its long-awaited white iPhone 4 will be made available this spring. Assuming that happens, why would Apple even consider launching the iPhone 5 this year? The white iPhone could be the stopgap between now and when it launches the iPhone 5. And considering how much hype is surrounding that device, it would likely keep iPhone sales up this year without requiring a new smartphone launch.

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What About Verizon?

Apple finds itself in an odd position. The iPhone 4 is potentially ready for a refresh, since it launched last summer. However, Apple launched the Verizon iPhone earlier this year. If the company doesnt want to continue with its staggered releases (and it shouldnt), it might have no other choice but to wait until next year to release the iPhone 5 on both Verizons and AT&Ts networks.

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Sales Are Strong

There are currently no signs that the iPhone 4 is experiencing any slowdowns in sales. And as mentioned, when the iPhone 5 launches, sales should be buoyed even more. If sales arent declining, Apple would have no reason to release the iPhone 5 this year. The smart move would be to capitalize on consumer interest through 2011 and come out with an even better option next year as demand starts to wane.

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Wait For 4G

Apple has been criticized for not offering 4G capability in the iPad 2. The iPhone also lacks 4G. And there is rampant speculation that the iPhone 5 will offer connectivity with the ultra-high-speed network. That said, 4G is still very much in its infancy. And 2012 will likely be the year when the arms race begins. By offering the iPhone 5 with 4G next year, Apple can easily capitalize on that craze.

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It Throws the Competition Off

Since the iPhones launch in 2007, competitors have been expecting Apple to show off a new version of the smartphone each year. By not doing so in 2011, Apple might just take its competitors by surprise. In many ways, companies like Motorola and Samsung make decisions around Apples expected moves in the smartphone market. By not tipping its hand, Apple can control the competitions development cycle and decide to pounce only when it feels the time is right.

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The Pressure Is Off

Apple is facing an immense amount of pressure from shareholders and other stakeholders to release an iPhone every year. And when it does so, they expect the updates to be major. By deciding against releasing the iPhone 5 this year, it can buck that trend and prove that it doesnt need to release a new device every year to continue its hot streak in the smartphone market.

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The iPad 2 Is More Important Right Now

As important as the iPhone has been to Apples operation over the years, the iPad 2 is arguably where it should be focusing more of its attention this year. That device will be facing a host of competitors that offer some nice specs for a price thats awfully close to the iPad 2s. Apple might need to launch an updated iPad 2 with 4G this year. And if it does so, the last thing it will need is to be distracted by a new iPhone that it doesnt even need to release.

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Implications of the AT&T-T-Mobile Deal

Earlier this year, AT&T announced plans to acquire T-Mobile USA in a deal valued at $39 billion. The companies hope to have the deal completed by the end of the year. Considering AT&T is such an important Apple partner, it might be best for the iPhone maker to wait and see how the acquisition bid works out before it launches another smartphone. The implications of the AT&T-T-Mobile USA deal on Apples business could be meaningful. Apple must keep that in mind.

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It's Still Leading

Although Googles Android platform is outselling iOS-based devices in the smartphone market, no single device in that space can match the iPhone. Until that happens, there shouldnt be a sense of urgency on Apples part to continue to release a new iPhone every year. With over 100 million iPhone sales since its launch in 2007, Apples smartphone is an unbridled success. That wont change by waiting until next year to release the iPhone 5.

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Other Areas Need Attention

As mentioned, Apple should be thinking about the iPad 2 this year. But its focus could be elsewhere, as well. The company needs to vastly improve its performance in the entertainment market with Apple TV. It would also be nice to see some improvements to its MacBook Air. Simply put, the iPhone 5 can wait. Apple has other areas of its operation that require attention.

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