At the iPhone event on Oct. 4, Apple was expected to show off two new iPhones—the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5. But in a move that surprised many folks around the globe, Apple only announced the iPhone 4S, seemingly leaving the iPhone 5 for another day.
Although the iPhone 4S is a fine upgrade in its own right, launching with a better antenna and improved camera, among other features, the disappointment around the technology community is palpable. There was an inordinate amount of hype heading into Apple’s event and for the first time in a long time, the iPhone maker did not deliver on that.
That has made some observers wonder if a lot of that disappointment would have been avoided if Apple had simply called the iPhone 4S the iPhone 5. Others say that since the device is a nominal upgrade, people would have been disappointed no matter what Apple called it. Others say that by calling the iPhone 4S the iPhone 5, Apple could have made the device seem more important, and thus quelled some unrest.
Either way, Apple decided on the iPhone 4S. At least for now, the iPhone 5 is a no-show.
Read on to find out why Apple decided to leave the iPhone 5 announcement for another day:
1. LTE isn’t ready
According to the latest reports, Apple wants to support Long-Term Evolution (LTE) in the iPhone 5. Right now, the company contends that LTE just isn’t ready for prime time. It’s probably right. Although carriers are all trying to invest more in the technology, right now it looks like none of their networks will be able to handle the traffic load that the iPhone 5 would put on it. For now, it’s best if Apple doesn’t support LTE, and keeps the iPhone 5 on the shelf until carriers can catch up.
2. Rumors suggest it’s a major upgrade
According to all the reports surrounding the iPhone 5 that came out both before and after Apple’s Oct. 4 event, the device is supposed to be a major upgrade over the iPhone 4. While that might excite some customers, they need to realize that major upgrades usually have significant feature and technology enhancements. It can take years to perfect the features and get the cost down to where it is profitable to get such devices on store shelves. Simply put, maybe Apple’s major upgrade just wasn’t where it needed to be to hit store shelves this year.
3. It didn’t have to
Looking at Apple’s iPhone sales over the last several quarters and comparing those to the competition it faces in the mobile space, it’s hard to see any reason Apple would have been required to release a major upgrade right now, anyway. During its last-reported quarter, Apple sold over 20 million iPhones. And with the iPhone 4S in tow, it will likely sell even more this quarter. Realizing that, perhaps the iPhone 5 isn’t as necessary as some think.
4. Apple likes to wait to see what competitors show
Apple likes to set the benchmark in the mobile space, not match it. It appears that Apple wants to wait for its top competitors, including Motorola Mobility and Samsung, to show off their handsets for next year before it introduces the iPhone 5. It makes some sense. If Apple can see what others bring to their products, it will have time to update the iPhone 5 and deliver whatever kind of functionality it must to stay ahead.
5. The iPhone 4S is a fine upgrade in its own right
All this talk of disappointment surrounding the Apple event seems to marginalize how impressive the iPhone 4S is. That device comes with an improved camera, a dual-core processor and download speeds of up to 14.4M bps. According to Apple, it will have a vastly improved antenna, compared with that of its predecessor. On paper, the iPhone 4S sounds quite appealing, which might have prompted Apple to keep the iPhone 5 on hold for now.
6. Pricing could have been an issue
As noted, producing major upgrades can get expensive, even for a company as big and powerful as Apple. And when products are expensive to produce, Apple has no option but to pass those costs on to the consumer. It’s quite possible that iPhone 5 production costs would have been too high, and Apple would have had trouble bringing its price down to a suitable level. So, if it waits another year, it can get the iPhone 5 to a suitable price.
7. It seems to follow Apple’s strategy
Looking at Apple’s iPhone launch history, the fact that the company announced an updated iPhone 4 seems to make some sense. In 2008, a year after launching the original iPhone, Apple launched the iPhone 3G, a major upgrade. A year later, the company released the iPhone 3GS, which was a nominal upgrade over its predecessor. Considering the iPhone 4 was another major upgrade, it seems to only make sense that Apple would launch an update to that device this year, and then follow with the iPhone 5’s major upgrades next year.
8. It would have hurt iPhone 4S sales
It seems clear now that Apple always planned to launch the iPhone 4S this year. But if the company followed through on the rumors and launched the iPhone 5 alongside it, there might have been a good chance that the iPhone 4S would have been lost on store shelves. Apple wants to see all of its products succeed, and to achieve that this year, it couldn’t launch the iPhone 5 with the iPhone 4S.
9. Too many options in a short period?
Apple has run into a bit of timing problem. Last year, when the company announced the launch of the iPhone 4, it said that it was the biggest update since its handset launched in 2007. Moreover, the company promised a white model next to a black version of the device. The only issue was the white version didn’t launch until earlier this year. With the iPhone 4S on store shelves, the sting of buying the iPhone 4 either last year or this year isn’t all that great. But if Apple showed off a major update, the outcry might have been even worse than it is now. After all, does Apple really expect people to spend $200 or $300 on a new handset every year? Having too many options in a short period of time is not a good thing. And Apple has proved that.
10. Maybe it doesn’t exist
All this talk of the rumored iPhone 5 seems to leave out one key item: Maybe the device never existed at all. Considering how many rumors that cropped up over the last several months were proven wrong yesterday, what makes anyone believe that the iPhone 5 is even being considered at Apple? Maybe the iPhone 4S is the so-called “iPhone 5,” and perhaps Apple has other plans for a new handset next year. It’s easy to speculate on what the iPhone 5 might look like, but it’s not so easy to prove that it ever existed or will ever see the light of day. And that alone might be why Apple didn’t announce the device on Oct. 4.