I’m on record as skeptical that we’ll see a June iPhone 5 release, and now that Apple has set the dates for the World Wide Developers Conference 2012, I’m not any closer to being convinced differently. Of course, I could be totally mistaken in my assessment, but I don’t think I am.
First, what motivation does Apple have to hustle a new iPhone model out the door? Precious little, if their just released second fiscal quarter financial results are anything to go by. iPhone sales in Q2 were up a whopping 88 percent year-over-year, and According to NetMarketshare’s Hitslink metrics for March, 2012, the iOS continues to enjoy 59.87% of the Mobile/Tablet operating system market. Why would they be in any hurry to mess with success metrics like that?
At the WWDC, to be held this year from June 11 through June 15 at San Francisco’s Moscone West, Apple says developers in attendance will lear lots of stuff about the future of iOS and OS X, but the publicized agenda doesn’t make even the slightest hint of an iPhone release, or for that matter an sort of hardware release at the conference. Again, that doesn’t mean for sure that there won’t be one, but I’m thinking the likelihood is remote.
An argument cited by June release proponents is that it would get Apple back on track with its tradition of annual iPhone model releases at the WWDC, but I don’t find that reasoning compelling. First, I’m not sure that a four-year streak qualifies as a “tradition” in any case, but Apple seems less and less inclined to adhere to such traditions as exist in its marketing. Annual model changes do have a certain objective logic, but the iPhone 4S won’t have a year on the market logged until October, and my expectation would be for Apple’s inclination to be toward stretching rather than compressing the model- release interval.
A fall release also makes more marketing sense than at the beginning of summer, when students are finishing up the school year and everyone in the Northern Hemisphere’s seasonal climates is focused more on outdoor activities. Late summer (September) or fall has students back in classes and the run-up to Christmas approaching. September has been Apple’s traditional (that word again) iPod new model intro. time slot, but with the iPod’s star on the wane while the iPhone’s and iPod’s continue to ascend, it seems like poor strategy to continue dedicating that promo calendar slot to a slower-selling product line.
A consensus also seems to be gelling among the Apple-watching commentariat, both financial analysts and bloggers, that it will be a fall release for the next-generation iPhone.
For example, Barrons reports that Jefferies & Co.’s Peter Misek, who accurately called the iPhone 4S release last year, on Friday wrote to clients that the “iPhone 5,” will be “enormous,” but that production will start September for release in October.
eWeek’s Nathan Eddy reports that while Apple could use the WWDC as a platform to launch a new iPhone or refreshed MacBooks, the focus is more likely to be on software, according to Apple reseller and care specialist Michael Oh, quoted saying he expects any hardware news at WWDC to be relatively minor, with a bigger focus on operating systems and software development (which of course is the annual conference’s nominal focus).
Of course given Apple’s obsession with secrecy, even expert opinion is largely guesswork as to the timing of Apple product announcements. Certainly non-expert me can’t discern much likelihood of a new iPhone announcement in June. Apple could fool us (not for the first time), but I don’t think they will.