There is much disappointment being expressed in responses to Michael’s column yesterday about the iPhone 5 WWDC no-show. I have to say I would’ve been more surprised had there been an iPhone 5 announcement Monday than I am that there wasn’t, although the complete absence of mention is a bit perplexing.
If there had been any vigorous controversy among professional industry-watchers about the earliest likely release of a next-generation iPhone, I might’ve been more optimistic about the prospects of a return to WWDC iPhone refreshes. However, if there was any major dissonance among top-tier financial and market analysts over the past several months about iPhone product release timing, it eluded me. That cohort had pretty much unanimously been forecasting a sixth-gen iPhone release sometime in the September-October 2012 calendar interval, and these guys don’t get paid big $$ for being mistaken a whole lot.
Actually, after what Apple did say at the WWDC keynote yesterday, I’m leaning more toward October, or at best very late September than I had been, being as Apple’s official word in the iOS 6 preview yesterday is that “iOS 6 will be available to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users this fall.” The 2012 autumnal equinox falls on Saturday, September 22, so strict interpretation of that affirmation would make Tuesday, September 25 the first available new iPhone release date. Since that would be well after Apple’s traditional September iPod refresh time slot, I’m thinking around the first anniversary of the iPhone 4S release in October now seems most probable.
As for what did get announced in the keynote, as a consummate Mac laptop junkie and user for nearly two decades now, I was extremely happy with (most of) Apple’s MacBook revelations. I agree that the new Retina display 15″ MacBook Pro is woefully overpriced, but I expect a 13″ stablemate will be announced before year-end at a more reasonable price of entry. Personally, I’m not enchanted by Retina capability in the MacBook Pro for the same reasons why I’ve not embraced the new iPad, namely that I don’t perceive the compromises in hardware resource overhead and bandwidth clogging to support the ultra high resolution displays are justified by the benefits. However, in both instances, Apple has prudently kept corresponding previous model hardware available for those of us who aren’t Retina convinced (I do think Retina resolution makes good sense for very small panels like the iPhone display). I was very pleased with the refreshments to the existing MacBook Pro and MacBook Air lines, with Intel Ivy Bridge and upgraded video support silicon, USB 3, and more realistic standard RAM and memory upgrade specs. the latter especially with the MacBook Air, whose previous standard 2 GB of had-soldered RAM was ridiculous. I’m finding even the 4 GB of RAM I have in my MacBook anchor Mac only marginally sufficient these days.
Speaking of the MacBook announcements and upgrades at WWDC, it bears noting that predictions made last week by KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo were pretty accurate, and turning focus back to a new iPhone release, Mr. Kuo is also predicting in a research note to investors cited by Appleinsider that “We expect Apple to unveil iOS 6 GM (Golden Master) in early September,” and “Based on the release schedule for iOS 6 GM, there is a very good chance iPhone 5 will start shipping also in early September.”
Appleinsider is suggesting that an early September release would make sense, saying “Based on the release schedule for iOS 6 GM, there is a very good chance iPhone 5 will start shipping also in early September,” noting that a September launch would give Apple a nice sales spike for tis bestselling hardware device before the end of its 2012 fiscal year. They note that 2011′s October iPhone 4S launch resulted in a slower September quarter disappointed Wall Street, not to mention a lot of iPhone fans.
We’ll see. I think early September is still plausible, but that’s still technically late summer, and note that KGI’s Mr. Kuo is only predicting an iOS 6 Golden Master release in early September — not a public release of the OS that early. Apple’s “this Fall” iOS 6 general availability projection points toward late in the month or into October.