iPhone 5 buys Apple a little more time

The crux of my post earlier today, Happy iPhone 5 Day – Brand Impact, stands. Clearly, the greatest impact from today is on the brand that is Apple. If you were loyal to Apple prior to today’s iPhone 5 announcement, you still are. And if you are a consumer of another brand, you at least still acknowledge that Apple is a very powerful force in the marketplace.

If you are Samsung, the day could have been a lot worse. If you are RIM, it’s only an extra nail in the coffin.

Today Apple did only the bare minimum that it had to do in order to bridge the gap between the iPhone 4S and what its customers really wanted. Again, don’t get me wrong, iPhone 5’s like their predecessors will fly off the shelf and die-hards will line-up for hours prior to the official release. However, the iPhone 5 is far more evolutionary than it is revolutionary. Look for Apple’s stock price to take a temporary but not insignificant hit before resuming its ascent.

The taller screen, faster processor, LTE, better camera, thinner profile, lighter weight are all welcome. But I still maintain the screen needs to be slightly wider not just taller. More to the point if you examine closely the theoretical battery life specifications, they really aren’t a great deal better than the 4S, and in practice I suspect complaint about iPhone 5 battery life will run as rampant as it did with previous models. In my view Apple should have maintained the same thickness and devoted the additional space to more battery. Look for new longer cases for the iPhone 5 becoming home to an iPhone 4s with a $79 Mophie Juice Pack.

A third missing key component of the iPhone 5 is near field communications. It’s great that we have a Starbucks app for purchases at Starbucks only, however, the demand and desire to eliminate, altogether, a wallet full of plastic and paper is paramount. Apple had an opportunity to lead in this area but failed to standup to the plate. Apple knows it still has time in this regard as well.

The saving grace in today’s announcement is in the improved functionality of the device afforded by iOS-6. What we do with our mobile devices is far more important than what the device is. But one does not need an iPhone 5 to reap the benefits of the new OS. I believe many, in fact most, with 4 and 4s will simply make do with the software upgrade. iOS-6 may be a little sluggish on a 3GS. Look for those folks to upgrade first.

In short, will iPhone 4s consumers who may have broken a costly iPhone 4 contract think nothing of paying a second penalty in order to acquire an iPhone 5? My hunch is the take-up will be a little slower than some expect.

As mentioned in numerous previous posts Apple still has time to produce a revolutionary product. I believe that opportunity exists with the relatively sudden and recent talk of an iPad mini to compete with 7″ Android product offerings. However, on that iteration Apple can’t afford another “just-satisfactory” product launch.

Apple must not be afraid to let iPad Mini cannibalize its little sister. The Mini must offer full audio and video telephony and it mustn’t worry that a 5″ form factor may be too close to the iPhone 5 both in terms of physical size or proximity in release dates.

Christmas would be nice. Q1 or Q2 of 2013 is about as far out as Apple can afford to wait.

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