IPhone Product Cycle Now More of a Platform Cycle
If Apple’s not unveiling the iPhone 5 at its 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference, when can we expect to see the device? Autumn, perhaps? Certainly that seems the most logical option if Apple is moving away from its traditional June/July timeframe.
As I’ve noted here before, a fall launch dovetails nicely with the expected launch of AT&T’s LTE network and the debut of an updated Qualcomm LTE chip. And, more importantly, it gives Apple a few more months to align the device with some significant upgrades to the iOS platform, which, as Caris analyst Robert Cihra observes, is increasingly becoming the real “what’s next?” for Apple.
“Products last maybe a year, ‘platforms’ last decades,” Cihra wrote in a recent research bulletin. “We believe the single biggest change in Apple over the past few years is that it has moved from being something of a ‘hit product’ company (e.g., like a movie studio dependent on each new release) back to being a better-than-ever ‘platform’ company, where its OS+hardware+apps ecosystem and closed-loop customer relationship are what truly matters and drive longevity….Want to know what the next iPhone or iPad’s going to look like? Just picture a thinner, lighter rectangle. It’s not the hardware that matters, it’s the software–well actually, it’s the software+hardware+services in a fully-integrated vertical platform.”
In other words, the iPhone product cycle has evolved into a platform cycle.
A fair point and one that makes you wonder what Apple has planned for its big iPhone 5 reveal–whenever it happens. I’ve already discussed that at length here, but Cihra has a few ideas as well.
“If Apple ever deviated from typical timing this might be the year, since it just added a CDMA/Verizon version of the iPhone 4 in February,” he writes. “This could also set up a bigger launch of iOS 5, expected to bring breakout additions to the platform, from cloud-based sync, apps and streaming services to NFC (e.g., combining its massive new datacenter build-out with closed-loop customer ownership and thin-client focus, we think it’s a slam-dunk Apple at least improves the ability to sync content across multiple devices).
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