The iPhone is coming the iPhone is coming…or is it?

So the world is a flutter with the Apple announcement set for tomorrow. The rumors are rampant that Apple will unveil its newest version of the iPhone, the 5. Many of my analyst friends have been invited to and are on their way to the announcement. There are as many rumors as to what the new iPhone will look like as there are people attending tomorrow. So what to make of all this?

There has been much heat around Apple’s dip in the smart phone world. Especially to rivals such as Samsung. Of course the recent court decision might have a negative impact on the Korean player. However the latest numbers show that Samsung is the leader in global smartphone sales

— Samsung Electronics Co., 50.2 million units, 32.6 percent share (17 percent a year earlier)

— Apple Inc., 26 million units, 16.9 percent share (18.8 percent a year earlier)

— Nokia Corp., 10.2 million units, 6.6 percent share (15.4 percent a year earlier)

— HTC Corp., 8.8 million units, 5.7 percent share (10.7 percent a year earlier)

— ZTE Corp., 8 million units, 5.2 percent share (1.8 percent a year earlier)

— Other, 50.7 million units, 32.9 percent share (36.2 percent a year earlier)

Source: IDC

On the operating system front, Apple trails Google, no real surprise since Google licenses their OS to numerous manufacturers while Apple is only for well Apple.

So what does this all mean? I think that Apple is at an interesting inflection point for their iPhone. The iPhone 4s did not have the same impact, at least positive impact, as the iPhone 3s. Many saw the 4s as a cop out, a way for Apple to milk the iPhone fans into a new version without making any real fundamental changes to the phone. It was going from version 4.0 to 4.1 but with a 5.0 price tag. Meanwhile the likes of Samsung HTC  and Huawei are all putting out new phones with exciting and different form factors. Some of which make the iPhone look…old and boxy!

Apple still holds our imaginations and still has the “it” or “wow” factor. However that is not a lifetime right. Whatever is announced tomorrow is going to go a long way to determine if Apple holds on to our imaginations or if they leave the door open to other players to take market share.

What I think we have to see –

  • Different form factor – the screen should get larger and the thickness of overall phone…thinner. The interesting fact is that smartphones are getting bigger, people seem to be okay with a larger form factor if it means a better screen.
  • Increased storage – more places to put our music, pictures and apps.
  • A better Siri – the idea of voice controlled is only going to be more prominent in our devices…but make it useful.
  • Improved functionality – I can think of one specifically, the camera. Get a better quality camera front and back but more importantly the native camera app should be improved: zoom, increased control of camera functions like ISO speeds and aperture. Oh and…like one phone ad shows…why not be able to “take” a picture from a movie??
  • Don’t change the pin setting – I realize that the rumors are rife that is will be the case that the 30 pin input will change. Ugh. I think that is a mistake. Think of all the ancillary devices that have that pin configuration to leverage the iPhone.
  • One final one…let us have some color choices! Okay maybe nothing crazy, but why not roll out say the usual black, a white and one that is brushed steel…hey maybe a pink version for those fans of the pink Razr. I realize this might add some complexity to the supply chain, and maybe it is a moot point since so many iPhone users “customize” their phones via a case.

So let us see what Apple and Tim Cook have to offer us tomorrow. Since we are being led to believe it is the new iPhone, let us hope we are amazed by a the Apple design and vision. I know the folks at Samsung et al will be watching as well.


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