Why the iPhone 5 launch will be the 'biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history'

Why the iPhone 5 launch will be the 'biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history'

Summary: The iPhone 5 launch isn't just going to be big according to Topeka Capital analyst Brian White, it's going to be the "biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history". It will be, and here's why.


I can all but guarantee that you're nowhere near as jazzed about it as Topeka Capital analyst Brian White, who says that the iPhone 5 launch will be the "biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history".

Gallery: iPhone 5: Rumor roundup

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Apple unveils the iPhone 5 (photos)

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White notes that the iPhone 4S had pre-orders totaling 1 million in 24 hours, but he believes that this figure will rise to 1.3--1.5 million for the iPhone 5. He also believes that the sales over the first three days will rise from the 4 million that the iPhone 4S saw to 5--5.5 million, and that for the September quarter Apple could sell a whopping 10--12 million units.

White goes on to list a number of reasons why he thinks the iPhone 5 will be a big hit -- bigger screen, LTE capability, faster processor, iOS 6, and so on -- but in the analysis he misses the wood for the trees, forgetting that the vast majority of Apple customers don't care about the hardware specifications at all.

The reason that the iPhone 5 -- or whatever it ends up being called -- is going to be big is that it will be the first major redesign of the iPhone since the iPhone 4 was released back in June 2010.

See also: Samsung to sue Apple over 4G LTE in iPhone 5 | Will the iPhone 5 display remain competitive? | iPhone 5 hardware-based rumor roundup | iPhone 5 sales could hit 10 million in first week | 22 percent of Android users willing to dump their handset for iPhone 5 |CNET: Used iPhones flood the market anticipating the iPhone 5

Consumers like a redesign because it means that their new handset doesn't look like everybody else's handset. To people who like to pore through endless specification sheets and hardware teardowns, it seems odd that people will base their purchasing decision on something as simple as a product looking different, but they will.

And Apple knows this, which is why I suspect that the company takes a tick-tock approach to product releases, choosing not to redesign the iPhone for every release because not doing this builds up demand.

Another reason why the iPhone 5 launch will be massive is that the user base is bigger than ever, which means more people than ever are either eligible to upgrade their existing handset, or are currently using an old iPhone and want to upgrade. The bigger the user base for the iPhone is, the bigger the demand for a new handset will be. After all, it is a lot easier to sell to an existing customer than it is to convince someone to switch to the iPhone from an Android, BlackBerry or Windows Phone device.

That said, there doesn't seem to be a shortage of people willing to jump ship, abandoning their existing handset for the new iPhone. Even knowing nothing official about the next iPhone, a survey carried out by Techbargains showed that 22 percent of Android users are willing to dump their current handset for the new iPhone, while 38 percent of BlackBerry owners say they will buy the new iPhone.

However, to prove the point that it is easier to sell to existing customers than it is to convince people to switch platforms, the group that is showing the strongest demand for the new iPhone are current iPhone owners. 64 percent of iPhone 4S owners said they will buy the new iPhone, along with 71 percent of iPhone 3G owners. However, the crowd most eager for the iPhone 5 is iPhone 4 owners, with a massive 74 percent saying that they will buy the new iPhone.

And remember that a lot of those old, unwanted iPhones will either be sold on the secondhand market, or passed on to family members or friends, adding to the iPhone user base.

People who own iPhones want to own the latest iPhone. I bet that thought makes Apple chief executive Tim Cook smile.

Topics: Apple, iPhone, Mobile OS, Mobility, Smartphones

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  • Why the iPhone 5 launch will be the "biggest upgrade in consumer electronic

    the iPhone 5 launch will be the "biggest upgrade in consumer electronics history". by what standard?
    • empty blather

      By the standard of breathlessly hyping what amounts to a non-event. We've all seen the mock-up of the new iPhone: It's the same as the current phone, but longer. Which makes the hyperbole in this story absolutely idiotic.

      But hey, why write a story about something real? Just barf out whatever tripe you need to fill your page of click-bait. Does he mention anything compelling about iOS 6? Nope. You know what the biggest upgrade would be for the iPhone? Fixing it's biggest defect: the lack of audible notifications THAT YOU MISSED A CALL. iPhone owners don't give a rat's ass about the processor, but they're sick of missing time with their friends and family because they never knew they missed a call.
      Oscar Goldman
      • Nice lack of an Edit button, ZD. Pathetic.

        ITS biggest defect
        Oscar Goldman
        • wrong

          its biggest defect is not being waterproof. Plus I always know when I miss a call, I always get the banner "Missed call" what are you guys talking about?
          • Read well

            He said "audible notifications"
          • Something like a ring tone?

            So he won't just pick up the call when hears the initial ring tone, but he wants an audible notification telling him he just missed that first audible notification. Hmm.

            Also, let's not mention that he can also assign custom ringtones to important family members.
          • Wow

            So you must take the phone with you absolutely everywhere...
          • Yep

            My iPhone replaced magazines. However, if and when I do leave it behind, I don't have a problem simply glancing at the notifications screen when I pick it up. I also don't get bent out of shape when it won't wipe my backside.
          • Ewwww! But since you mention it

            surely there's an app for that.
            The Danger is Apple
          • The Android inspired notification

            you mean?
          • No...

            Growl inspired notification.
          • No the notification that was always there

            Displayed right there on the screen when you missed a call. In regard to your attempt to bash iOS, yes the notification center does appear to be inspired by Android just like Android itself appears to be inspired by iOS so what's your point?
          • Inspired?

            Try stolen. So we stole the rectangle and icon layout "specs". iOS steals stuff from Android as well. Innocent little Apple. I hope they sue Apple's ass off and at least get a temporary injunction on the iphone 5 in the U.S. for "stealing" LTE and portions of patented Android OS. I would love to see all the Apple idiots whine and cry about it on the national news.
          • Patented LTE is silly

            Apple bought the chips fairly and the cabal already gets paid there. Trying to shake anybody down who uses 3G or 4G for a percent of sales price is an obscene tax since the chips already have a royalty "tax" paid on them before retail.
            Supposedly android is open source so what are you taking about hoping they sue people for using open source ideas?
          • Open source is not equal to 'free to copy'

            ossoup, open source means you are free to modify, but at the same time all modifications have to be submitted back to the open source community. It does not mean big guys like Apple can simply take the idea and put it on its phones like they used to be. Apple has a habit to steal ideas from others without paying. Apple copied other phone manufacturers to put a speaker on the phone, and stole having a display on it.
          • I understand code-wise

            Open source is if you actually use the code, but open source is strictly against patenting ideas and suing. You only need to submit back to the community if you're actually using the code, and people are free to implement their own code and versions licensed however they want if they are using their own code. Open source has no concept of suing someone for implementing their own code that resembles something.
          • Patented LTE is silly.

            And how silly is patent for "look and feel"? Besides the "look" idea was stollen from Star Trek.
          • look and feel is branding

            There were frivolous parts that were rightly thrown out. Google didn't invent 3G or 4G and those patents are allowed out of trust they will not abuse essential technology patents in the way people are suggesting they should by suing. Plus, Apple paid the 3G/4G tax when the chips were purchased, as royalties are part of the purchase price.
            Shaking down competitors for an additional 2% tax on their sales price is an abuse of the FRAND patents.
            And understand the case before you use the false soundbite "a bunch of rectangles".
            Even after illegally deleting their past emails, other emails referencing how they wanted to copy the look and feel because comparing it to Apple's was looking at "heaven and hell" (their words pulled from emails). Look and feel is a part of branding and it wasn't just a bunch of squares. I could call anything a bunch of circuits and atoms too, and that doesn't take away the reality of wanton copying. Do you understand "using" 3G or 4G chips, rightfully purchased is an essential part of creating a mobile phone these days, and is different than creating brand confusion trying to make your sucky product look as much like a competitors as possible. It was so blatant google advised them not to do it and they still did.
          • blind or ignorant?

            ...uh - without the iPhone and iOS, Android would've never come along in its current or anything-similar, form... Just plain and simple...

            We'd still have Motorola RAZR's as the coolest thing on the block and PALM might've had a chance...
          • Takes me back :)

            Motorola's was the best "data/multimedia" phone before the iPhone, but it was nothing like it and nowhere close. I was always surprised how bad Windows phones sucked through the years, when I looked for a "data/multimedia" phone (that's how I used to refer to the phones that were more than phones, like Blackberry and Treo). I like Motorola because you could open the seam "like rooting" and enable things carriers disabled, like using bluetooth as a dial-up modem, and bypass Verizon's horrible Vcast software.
            There really was nothing like the iPhone and when Android came out it did seem like a response/copy, but there was still innovation in creating it for sure.