Few companies or individuals spur a greater rumor mill than Apple or Steve Jobs. We may speculate over Sarah Palin‘s candidacy for president or Facebook’s next set of tweaks, but Apple has inspired more discussion about non-existent products and unsubstantiated reports than most anything else.
And now much of that attention is focussed on the iPhone 5. We think it’s worth spending a Tech Friday on swirling around the iPhone 5 because (a) an iPhone 5 will come out someday (don’t look to us to guess when) and (2) when it does, it will surely shake up the mobile industry again. Even folks at a BlackBerry users’ site admit that they’ll jump ship as soon as the iPhone 5 hits stores.
For a while, many predicted recent reports suggest investors are not expecting the ‘5’ before next year. One thing that we think makes a 2012 release comparatively likely is that Apple has never really needed to count on a holiday season of buying. They can sell their products whenever they d@*n well please.date to get the full impact of the holiday buying season. But
Moreover, Apple already has a number of releases coming out: Lion (already out), iCloud and its attendant music-streaming service, and iOS5 (what will drive the iPhone 5 at some point, but will improve iPads, iPod Touches, and iPhone 4s ‘now’). These updates might enough to encourage engineers to wait on the hardware of the iPhone 5 and marketers to encourage saving a little gunpowder for early 2012.
But when it does come out, these same pundits believe it will pretty much kill off the stragglers (do you own any Nokia stock…?). First of all, almost everyone agrees that the next iPhone will allow users to chose from all three major carriers (AT&T, who owns T-Mobile and might lobby to have the FCC obliterated so it can buy the other two before you read this; Verizon; Sprint) and even an untethered phone to allow month-to-month contracts.
Also, the smaller iPhone 5 might carry the same dual-processor in the iPad 2, allowing greater multi-tasking and quicker response times. That hardware acceleration would help drive the biggest improvement: iOS5 announced in early June. Improvements in Mail, web browsing, and messaging will give people quicker access to their mobile communications while allowing them to stream music from their iCloud accounts.
The ‘Notification Center’ might be the biggest draw for businesspeople and charitable organizations/nonprofits who want to keep in touch with their staff while on trips or at off-site meetings. A recurrent complaint of previous iterations of the software was that though one got notification of an incoming message, as soon as the phone was ‘opened,’ that notification was lost and the user had to hunt for it. The Notification Center keeps all those messages from various services (texting, email, Facebook updates…) in one place and allows the user to go to each one in any order he/she wishes.
So the rumor mill on the iPhone 5 will end about 48 hours after the first ones are sold at the stores. But it is a safe bet that any hardware improvements that help drive iOS5 will make it a game changer for anyone wanting a user-friendly experience and a unified presentation of the communications that make a mobile phone valuable and useful.
Then we can start guessing what the iPhone 6 will look like.