Apple's iPhone 5: Winners and losers

Apple announced this week the long-awaited iPhone 5. Boasting a wealth of new features and technologies, today isn't just about Apple. Who will gain and lose out from Wednesday's event?
Written by Zack Whittaker, Contributor

The iPhone 5 made its full, first public appearance yesterday, despite the array of leaks in the months running up to Wednesday's media event.

The new smartphone has boosted the confidence of some consumers that Apple 'still has it,' while Apple's share price didn't exactly act too favorably during and after the event as it remained vastly flat -- bar a mid-event plunge when the Foo Fighters came on stage. That said, the incremental internal hardware updates were overshadowed by the new design, which even then didn't come as much of a surprise for many.


It's the first time Apple has, since the original smartphone launched, had to 'catch up' to where everyone else was. 4G LTE connectivity and the 4-inch screen: Apple passed on these a year ago and failed to set a trend. 

More iPhone 5: All ZDNet iPhone coverage | All CNET iPhone coverage | Techmeme | Apple statement

Apple's ripple effect will reap rewards for the company on the long-term, but the knock-on effects of the new technologies will hit rivals, competitors and ordinary folk likewise. (And before you shout at me, yes there are more losers than winners.)


Apple: There's no doubt Apple scored a massive win in the market, but did it win the hearts and minds of consumers? "Completely amazing and utterly boring," writes Wired's Mat Honan, which probably sums up most people's sentiments. Apple will have to wait and pray the weekend sales yield strong results. Like with any new iDevice it will likely soar off the sales charts and once again mark a record-breaking launch on previous releases.  

4G carriers: Finally. Apple took a shot with 4G LTE with the iPad 3 but failed to wow the masses, partly due to the incompatibility of the device on all networks outside of the 'test-case' North America. A few legal wranglings later and "4G" was dropped from the product's name.

Now the iPhone 5 has support on most global LTE networks, it sends a signal that 4G LTE is ready on an industry level in Apple's view -- seen an industry benchmark -- and Apple should avoid much of the hassle it faced with the iPad 3 by actively working with LTE networks in the first place.

But to catch up with the 4G trend, Apple was forced to build three separate iPhones in order to cater for the world's audience, adding further expense to Apple's manufacturing costs. On the plus side, it's better to get it right later in the game than stuff up the first time say with the iPad 3. Apple has redeemed itself.

Component makers: Samsung remains a key link in Apple's supply chain and will stand to benefit from its arch rival in the smartphone space from selling as many phones as possible. It's estimated that around a quarter of all Apple's innards are Samsung supplied components. Even if Samsung loses out to the iPhone in market share rankings, it still reaps a vast reward in selling chips and memory to Apple and other phone makers.

Other component suppliers such as Ericsson, the world's largest telecoms equipment maker, could see a massive boost from LTE chips if the iPhone 5 spurs on the 4G LTE evolution, and Qualcomm will profit immensely from its chips featuring in the iPhone 5. Apple's supply chain remains healthy, even if its manufacturing process is far from.

Despite its second-place in the top smartphone makers' table, Apple may sell as many as 27 million iPhones during the September quarter, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.


Apple: Possibly the leakiest company in California, Apple failed to keep the lid on its most anticipated product of the decade to date. The leaks that sprung out of Apple's Asia supply chain shows just how important the company is to the general public, but yesterday's launch went ahead without a pop or a bang, or even a meager fizz.

Despite Apple CEO Tim Cook's pledge to "double down on secrecy," the iPhone 5 was the most leaked product out of the company to date. That "double down" strategy failed miserably. The stock market reacted with a lukewarm response, but had Apple been able to handle its scandal it could have seen its share price rocket to a not-so-far-off record high. Instead, the firm was plunged into the red by Dave Grohl's band of merry men.

Even friendly critics were quick to jump on the announcement. ZDNet editor-in-chief Larry Dignan clearly yearns for Steve Jobs' stage presence, and ZDNet editor Andrew Nusca warned that Apple's secrecy days are "over"

Google: The search giant just lost a whole chunk of business when Apple ditched Maps in favor of its own in-house mapping service, and by dropping YouTube altogether. The only element of Google in the iPhone 5 is its search engine and email support. 

And then Android, which Google owns, makes and ships out. 4G LTE is likely going to have a knock-on effect to the Android market as the only section of the smartphone sector that supported LTE up until Apple's event on Wednesday. It's a testament to Android that so many people use the operating system, thanks to the diversity of Android-supported devices on the market, but the iPhone has finally caught up and could ruffle Google's feathers in the process.

Mobile payment firms: Even a lack of NFC hit Google and other mobile payment makers, despite only a handful of people actually using Google Wallet and other wireless payment services. For those of you, like me, with an NFC-enabled credit or debit card, that works just fine. It's no more effort in pulling out your wallet and tapping your card on a card reader than using your phone.

Apple's decision to leave out NFC means the wireless payment and tagging technology has yet to stand the test of time. Apple doesn't include technologies that aren't ready yet. As Apple senior vice president Phil Schiller told AllThingsD, "Passbook does the kinds of things customers need today." NFC isn't yet the solution to any existing problem. 

Application makers, developers: The 4-inch screen has be widely welcomed by Apple and Android fans alike. The technology giant had to build a 4-inch screen to compete with its main rival. But that leaves developers out in the cold for weeks, just as it did with the Retina display debacle. Apps took weeks to rejig and rework to accommodate the extra pixels and many missed the iPhone 4 launch date. It meant many new iPhone customers were left with apps that looking plain fuzzy. 

One developer wrote on his blog: "They should have notified us about the screen size, at least a year back. After all we pay them $99 a year [for the developer subscription] and 30% on each app sale. I'm sure we deserve this information."

"They had a choice -- hurt developer’s pocket or to hurt their sales. They have clearly chosen the first one."

The 4-inch screen will likely stay with Apple for many years, just as the Lightning dock connector will. But its left developers in the lurch after they found out not at WWDC 2012, their developer conference, that their apps would need to change to accommodate the larger screen, but at the unveiling of the iPhone 5 only days before its public release.

Europe: Despite an EU ruling in 2009 that meant phone makers would abide by the 'one-size-fits-all' micro-USB charging port rule, Apple remains the elephant in the room. To appease EU regulators, it brought out an accessory to convert the old-style dock connector to the micro-USB standard. This time around, it's the same thing but a different iPhone.

£15.00 (€19.00) for a converter plug, just to appease the EU? It's crazy. Consumers have to churn out even more for the privilege of an accessory that should be by standard come with the iPhone in the box.

And on the subject of the EU -- don't dismiss it as "just Europe," it has a far greater market than the U.S. does -- the European carriers are set to go to war on the iPhone 5 pricing. It boils down to subsidies, as the major operators fire price cannons at each other to woo the greater number of customers.

Image credit: James Martin/CNET.

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