Waiting for the Next iPhone

The Launch of a New Model Will Make Operators and Customers Happy


The most anticipated launch of the year is happening tonight. Apple’s new iPhone has been eagerly expected by what at times has seemed like the whole world. Rival manufacturers, network operators, distributors, retailers and the ordinary phone user are all keen to see what the next version of this iconic device will bring.

The launch event is a bit different to those in previous years. Earlier models made their first appearance in June each year. This time, the launch has been pushed back to the first week of October. This might be because of pending court battles, a recognition that the competition is getting stronger, or perhaps Apple’s just trying to build suspense.

Whatever the reason, the delay has heightened the challenges for network operators. Speaking to our contacts, we’ve found that some operators have a large number of customers who bought the iPhone 3G or 3GS in June 2009 and are now out of contract. They’ve put off buying a new device, waiting for the next iPhone after reading that it’s due soon. Some of them, or their friends, bought an original iPad and were “stung” by the sudden introduction of the iPad 2 less than a year later.

This has meant sales of the iPhone 4 have dipped in Europe and the US. Of course, this decline should be seen in the context of a phenomenal fiscal 3Q11 for Apple. Revenue rose to $28.6 billion, up from $24.7 billion in the previous quarter and 82% higher than a year ago, thanks mainly to growth in China, Latin America and the Middle East.

The iPhone launch has prompted other manufacturers to run heavy marketing and price promotions in Europe. The new iPhone is sure to continue Apple’s success in the high-end smartphone sector, but the real story how the iPhone 4 (or an updated version of it) will fit into Apple’s line-up. It’s likely to be positioned in a way that forces rivals to re-examine how they price products when competing against the mobile giant.

Whatever comes out of tonight’s event, it’s sure to keep people talking for a long time. Apple’s astute marketing machine will make the new iPhone the one to strive for.