Apple’s iPhone Event Next Week
Matthew is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Here we go again. It is about that time of the year. The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting cooler, the children are returning to school and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is preparing to announce their line of new products to close out the year. In what is becoming known for its consistency and regularity, September 12 marks the date for Apple’s event for tech journalists, as well as the traditional news media. There will be well-times clapping, possibly-orchestrated cheering and information about Apple’s consumer electronics to be had by all.
The update to the hugely successful iPhone 4S will likely be the biggest announcement of the event. The iPhone 5 is expected to be a much larger update than the iPhone 4 to 4S update that initially disappointed Apple fans and investors alike. The iPhone 4S basically offered an identical phone externally to the iPhone 4, with only relatively-minor updated internally. While still a very good phone, it was more of an evolutionary-update rather than a revolutionary-update. The initial, gut-reaction, disappointment of last year’s event quickly faded as Apple went on to sell more than twice as many iPhone 4S units at launch than they did with the iPhone 4 at launch. With Apple making new all-time high last month it is important to be careful about those initial gut-reactions.
Rightly or wrongly, this year much more is expected of Apple and their iPhone 5. This year it seems as if fans are expecting the revolutionary-update they did not get last year. I am not sure however if Apple will be able to delivery upon those fan expectations. The iPhone 5 will likely be a fine update to an already great phone, but I think gone are the days of the revolution-updates for smartphone from any manufactures (at least for a while. We are likely to see more evolutionary-updates coming from everybody. A slightly-faster p processor this generation over the last generation. A slightly larger-capacity battery this generation over the last generation. A slightly-higher resolution camera this generation over the last generation. So on and so forth.
If leaked technical specs and other information are correct, this is likely what we can expect this product generation with the iPhone 5. Eventually some new technology will come around and revolutionize smartphones again. Maybe next generation we will have smartphone-sized Lytro camera sensors or a silicon nanowire battery. But until, fans and investors should not expect too much for a while.
The iPad Mini will be a smaller version of the normal iPad and Apple’s response to the slew of good and affordable 7-inch tablets from competitors. While 10-inch tablet makers have been unable to compete with Apple at that screen size, Google's (NASDAQ: GOOG) Nexus 7 tablet, Barnes & Noble's (NYSE: BKS) Nook tablet and Amazon's (NASDAQ: AMZN) recently released Kindle Fire HD and updated Kindle Fire tablets are all 7-inch tablets have been able to carve out a nice and successful niche for themselves at that screen size. Each of the tablet offerings from Google, Barnes & Noble and Amazon are also priced at the $199.99 or lower price point. It will be interesting to see if Apple will be willing to sacrifices margins to compete at that price point as well.
Steve Jobs famously (and by the looks of it, prematurely) declared the concept of the 7-inch tablet as an inherently flawed one. Jobs was quoted years ago as saying that 7-inch tables are “…meaningless unless your tablet also includes sandpaper, so that the user can sand down their fingers to around one quarter of their present size.” Ouch. That sounds painful. With fingers unaltered an injured, Apples competitors have shown that there is a willing and waiting audience for the smaller 7-inch tablet variety. And for a change it is Apple who will be playing catch-up with the rest of the industry. No word yet if the iPad Mini will come with a complementary piece of iSandPaper or if it will be sold separately.
iPod Touch, iPod Nano, iPod Shuffle
Left out of the annual product update schedule last year was Apple’s line of iPod products. Last year the hardware remained exactly the same for each, with updated only coming at the software level (iOS 5 for the iPod Touch, Software 1.2 for the iPod Nano, nothing for the iPod Shuffle). While specifics about the iPod line of products are not well known) not too many leaked information about iPods), each are expected to receive a proper hardware update this year.
The iPod Touch will receive a screen size increase similar to what is expected of the iPhone 5. Internally, the iPod Nano will likely be based on the current iPhone 4S hardware. This will allow Apple to manufacture the iPod Touch cheaply and make sure the Touch’s hardware specs do not compete with the more expansive iPhone 5. Little is known about what possible updates are awaiting the iPod Nano and the iPod Shuffle (other than updates of sort are coming). I guess we will all find out together on the 12th.
With a little more a week to go, we can all look forward to increased hype and media attention. Expect live-blogging of the event from Cnet and other technology websites. Expect Twitter to expose with Apple fans and haters weighing in in real-time. Expect CNBC to come back from each and every commercial break with so-called ‘Breaking News’ from the event. Basically, expect a circus and expect to love every moment of it. See you then.
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