To some, it’s not what Apple says, but what they don’t say that counts. So, lacking a statement about preorders for the iPhone 5c, some financial analysts concluded sales must be poor. Apple’s stock price tanked yet again, with the unwarranted assumption that this new iPhone lineup was destined to fail, but all without evidence that such dire conclusions were true.
As I write this article, Apple’s stock price is up, but that doesn’t mean the street has come to its senses. They are still freaked out over the fact that the iPhone 5c is mostly based on the iPhone 5, as if that’s supposed to be something real bad. Besides, it’s not cheap enough.
What is forgotten how many iPod updates over the years were mostly cosmetic, with only modest changes in specs or features. But the “Apple is no longer innovating” game wasn’t being played then. Too bad Steve Jobs isn’t around to watch all this absurd by-play on the sidelines, but I hope that, wherever in the universe he might be, he is not rolling in his tomb.
So what is the true picture about iPhone 5c presales? Well, it does seem that all or most configurations remain available for delivery on or about September 20, but does that indicate lack of demand, or simply plenty of product to sell? Perhaps the latter, as most of the components are carry-overs from the iPhone 5, and fabricating the plastic casing isn’t near as difficult as the metal, particularly the way Apple does things. It’s less certain how the iPhone 5s will fare, since there are already warnings of severely constrained supplies. But supplies are almost always constrained on new Apple gear, particularly when there are major changes, and the insides of the iPhone 5s most definitely have major changes.
Oh yes, there is one survey supposedly tracking iPhone orders and indicating predictably high demand. But, once again, Apple hasn’t revealed anything, and you shouldn’t expect any real numbers until September 23, after the new models are actually delivered to customers. Apple’s previous benchmark is 2012, where five million iPhone 5s were sold, but this time two models are debuting, so the figures may be skewed.
Right now, many expect that, as with the iPad mini, the iPhone 5c will get the lion’s share of orders. Early adopters and those with a bit more disposable income may spring for the iPhone 5s. But you wonder how any of the new features, despite being magnificent innovations, will fare.
Despite what some ill-informed tech pundits claim, the 64-bit A7 processor can offer real performance improvements on 64-bit apps. Based on a new ARM architecture, you don’t need 4GB or more of RAM to yield those improvements, and early reviews of the iPhone 5s clearly bear this out. I look forward to more thorough benchmarks going forward, but it’s important to know that Apple’s claim of up to twice the performance of the iPhone 5 appear to be quite accurate, at least so far.
Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor, also seems to be extremely reliable, and I await my chance at bat in a few days to confirm how well it does. And, no, you can’t follow what’s done in those spy TV shows and movies, and just take someone’s dead finger and make it work. I won’t go into the reasons why, but such gruesome scenarios aren’t going to actually happen in the real world. But wait till Apple adds a retina sensor. They’ll be plenty of ghoulish comments then.
I won’t repeat the possible advantages of the M7 motion coprocessor. It should be obvious if you read Apple’s specs for the iPhone 5s, and, no, it’s not a trivial component.
But remember that having a feature doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to work well, or at all. Sure, Samsung could upgrade to 64-bit hardware, but what about Google and Android? I gather that making Android 64-bit savvy is no easy task, and, even if it were done in a reasonable period of time, it’s not at all certain what advantages it would offer, or how easy it would be for developers to update their apps. The current app situation is scary enough for developers, what with so high a proportion of Android handset owners running relatively ancient versions of the OS. So forget about adding new features, and that’s precisely the reverse of what’s happening on the iOS, as millions download iOS 7.
Or is Google planning to focus the lion’s share of attention on the Chrome OS, since the same executive runs that and Android these days? It’s not that the next version of Android, 4.4 KitKat, seems to offer a compelling feature set, or any feature set. Yes, there are some scattered reports about possible 64-bit support and all, but that’s fueled more by the desire to see Google match Apple than any sense of reality.
But reality often conflicts with a good story, and you can bet the media will often be inclined to consider the latter, fact checkers be damned!
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