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  • About Mistakes and Non-Mistakes

    July 25th, 2014

    In the course of checking out speculation about whether Apple will release two iPhone 6 configurations at once, or stagger the releases, I came across a curious claim. What sort of claim? Well, that Apple made a mistake releasing the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s at the same time last year? A mistake you say?

    Well, that was the weekend where Apple set a record for iPhone sales on the initial launch, with some nine million units sold. No other smartphone maker has come close. Samsung claims to have moved ten million copies of their Galaxy S4 in 28 days last year, but that hardly compares if you consider an average daily sales rate.

    So how was releasing two models of the iPhone at the same time a mistake? Because some dumb industry pundit says so?

    The excuse is "competition," which means, I suppose, that people will be confused when confronted with two different models of the iPhone and thus will suffer from, what, brain freeze? Does that mean they'll buy neither, or just buy both? Is the situation the same as releasing both an 11-inch and 13-inch version of the MacBook Air at the same time? What about the 21.5-inch and 27-inch iMac? Choices! Choices!

    What about all those Samsung Galaxy smartphones? Can someone just come here and sort them all out so people know what to do? Indeed, the only brain freeze I see here is from the people who complain that introducing more than one model at a time is somehow wrong, or will present a competitive situation that's somehow a bad thing.

    Now the speculation about the iPhone 6 has centered on a 4.7-inch model, and a 5.5-inch version, the so-called phablet iPhone. There have been some reports, unconfirmed of course, centering on alleged production problems for the larger model, and even the claim that release may be moved off until later in the year or even 2015. Or it may just be that, if there are production issues, supplies will be constrained for a few months (not unusual for an Apple product), but that won't change the actual release date.

    There is also the suggestion that Apple's somewhat lower-than-expected guidance for the September quarter is due to the fact that the new iPhone won't arrive until quite late in that month, and thus won't have a big impact on sales.

    Of course, none of this means a thing until the products and release dates are actually announced, and we get the first weekend's sales figures. Taking Apple at their word, sales of the iPhone in the last quarter were actually impacted to some degree by expectations about the next model, and certainly there has been plenty of chatter. That it's also so consistent does appear to indicate it will probably be accurate to some degree, same as last year. Supply chain leaks are plentiful.

    But that doesn't mean Apple won't manage a few surprises in terms of unexpected hardware features. Remember that the 64-bit capability of the A7 processor and the M7 coprocessor were not exactly known until Apple spilled the beans.

    But when it comes to media pundit or analyst errors, they will rarely correct them. So when IDC incorrectly reported that Mac sales in the U.S. were down 1.7% in the June quarter, and Apple reported that sales increased in the double-digits in the U.S. that quarter, don't expect an apology.

    To be fair to IDC, it may just be that they need to revise their survey methods to more closely reflect reality. The major polling companies do that all the time, particularly when their numbers turn out to exceed the margins for error. But owning up to a problem is the first step towards resolving it. Pretending nothing is wrong and continuing to make the same errors over and over again doesn't help to set things right.

    Of course, when it comes to Apple's critics, the curious claims and outright falsehoods are repeated over and over again.

    Yet another story has it that Apple is somehow making a huge mistake in releasing a phablet version of the iPhone. Of course that assumes such a thing, still only a rumor, will actually occur. But if it happens, how would that move be wrong, while smartphones of similar sizes from other companies are perfectly fine?

    While I wouldn't personally buy a phablet, I can see where there's market potential, particularly in Asia, where people actually use them as their one-and-only computing device. They don't have a traditional Mac or PC at home, so they evidently scrape together enough money to buy a combo device that serves as a small tablet and a smartphone.

    That conceivably represents a huge market potential, and Apple is fighting to build sales in China. So the alleged 5.5-inch iPhone 6 would make plenty of sense, if done right. Sure, perhaps some of those customers won't be buying iPads, but Apple earns more money from the iPhone, subsidized or not, and a sale is a sale.

    In any case, all this will play out this fall, when Apple will do what they will do once again without regard to the silly complaints from the blogosphere.



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