Waiting for the iPhone 5? I've got some bad news and some worse news

Apple's upgrade cycle for the iPhone has switched to Fall and there's almost no chance that it will release an iPhone 5 before this time next year. Suck it up and get an iPhone 4S.

Since yesterday's announcement of the iPhone 4S I've received a flurry of emails that go something like this:

What’s your take on the lack of an iPhone 5? Should I wait to buy the 4S? Any chance that Apple might release the iPhone 5 a little later? I’m chomping at the bit to get this phone…

Here's my stock response:

No prayer unfortunately.

Apple will milk all that it can out of the iPhone 4S and not release the iPhone 5 (with LTE, NFC and whatever) in the summer of 2012 –- at the soonest.

I fear that because “the cycle” now appears to be to release iPhones in the Fall that we may not see the i5 until October 2012.

Apple's the kind of company that tries not to upgrade its hardware too soon after it releases a new model. Granted, there have been exceptions, but they're the exception, not the rule. Apple's loathe to burn its customers by releasing a hardware update less than 12 months after the original.

Apple knows that hyper-fast upgrade cycles only alienates and pisses off its existing customers and worse, it gives future customers more of a reason to sit on the sidelines and not buy the current hardware because they fear that an updated model is right around the corner.

This is a major reason why Apple blogs are so popular -- people want to know what's coming next before spending their hard-earned dollars.

Apple's set the timeline for the iPhone 5 in stone. We won't see an iPhone 5 (with LTE, NFC, teleportation, whatevs) until October 2012 (12 months hence). There's a possibility that Apple could announce it in the June/July 2012 timeframe (9 months) but certainly no sooner than that. Announcing the iPhone 5 too soon after the iPhone 4S would alienate 4S owners and cut into sales as everyone waits for the next big thing.

If you've got an iPhone 3G/3GS that's on its last leg (as many of you do) just go ahead and buy the iPhone 4S. While it's no iPhones 5 (whatever that is) the opportunity cost of waiting 9-12 months for the "next" iPhone is simply too great -- especially if your smartphone helps you earn a living.

Photo: MacRumors