Thoughts on the Apple iPhone Events for September 2013

Thoughts on the Apple iPhone Events for September 2013

Just before going to bed last night, I checked my RSS feeds to see posts about Apple hosting a second announcement event next week, this time in China:

The invite is the same as the one for the main U.S. event, which leads us to believe whatever is announced in Cupertino the day before will be headed China’s way.

When I awoke this morning, the interest in the Chinese event had continued:

Apple has sent out custom invitations to Chinese media outlets for an event being held in China on September 11th, one full day after Apple’s normal press event on the 10th

Some may notice that these two posts were separted by sleep. Overnight. Yet both posts were issued during the same business day. But that was in America, and I am in Australia, and Australia is in a different timezone.

I make this comment, because the China event is not “one full day after Apple’s normal press event…”. It (the Chinese, presumably abnormal event) is, in fact, only about 9 hours after the Cupertino one. So the question of what will be announced, and which executive(s) will front each event is in itself interesting. I don’t think it will be just teleconference – Apple will have an individual executive at each location.

Subsequently, additional information has come to light about satellite Apple press events to be held in Tokyo and Berlin, as well as Cupertino and Beijing. Clearly things are getting interesting – Apple has not held satellite events in recent years.

So it’s time to look into the crystal ball and think about what might be announced.

Cupertino Core Event

iPhone

Last January I posted my thoughts on the rumoured low-cost iPhone. In that post I gave a 75% probability on the likelihood of such a low cost phone, with two major reasons:

  1. Migration of all on-sale iPhone devices to the Lightning connector.
  2. Migration of all on-sale iPhones to the iPhone 5 screen dimensions.

I predicted that we would end up with three iPhone models in late 2013:

  • The iPhone 5S (in 32GB, 64GB and 128GB[1] models)
  • The iPhone 5 (in 16GB) as a mid-range model[2]
  • The low-cost iPhone (probably in 16GB)

My thoughts are that this roadmap remains the likely outcome from next week’s event(s). We now have a probable name for for the “low-cost” iPhone – the iPhone 5C.

iPhone 5C

C probably stands for “colour” and possibly “China”. But not cheap. It might be low-cost, and will certainly be “cheaper”, but as Rene Ritchie says, there’s likely to be nothing cheap about the lower-cost iPhone:

Apple may not know how to (i.e. be willing to) make cheap products, but over the last decade they’ve proven they can continuously introduce lower cost ones when and as they choose.

The iPhone 5C will have all the key hardware features of the current iPhone 5, but will have a plastic case that has various colour options. I agree with John Gruber’s thoughts that the iPhone 5C will also have all the software features announced for the iPhone 5S:

Apple can withhold cutting edge software features from old devices; they can’t do that for brand-new ones.

I don’t expect any other hardware innovations (aside from the lower cost casing) over the iPhone 5S.

iPhone 5S

We will possibly see a champagne coloured iPhone 5S, in addition to black and white versions.

There will quite possibly be a fingerprint sensor on the 5S, and if this launches as rumoured, I think it will herald a potential major shift in security and usability of smartphones, and presumably later tablets when the next generation of iPad is launched.

I am almost certain we will see a bump in memory, with 32GB, 64GB and 128GB models on offer.

In terms of wireless communications, near field communications (NFC) remains a possibility[3], as does improved WiFi with support for 802.11ac and improved Bluetooth support.

Battery life will likely further improve.

Apple TV

Something is happening in this area, with rumours of multiple deliveries of “set top box with communications feature” from China. I have no idea if this a new version of Apple TV if we know it, a new device or simply rumours leaked to keep Gene Munster and other pundits occupied.

An Apple TV that supports an AppStore and apps will come. I’m just not sure when.

iPad, iPod and Macs

Not at this event. It will be focused on iPhone and iOS7.

iOS7

It’s no secret that iOS 7 is to be released along with the new iPhone, and given the normal iOS beta release history, we may expect to see a Gold Master release immediately following the announcement, and the release to users a week or so later, prior to the release of the new iPhone models.

iOS 7 beta 6 was released on 15 August 2013. I would have thought that we were due for a new release by now, so maybe the current release is stable enough to be ready to go gold. At least for iPhone.

Some rumours suggest that the release of iOS 7 for iPad may be delayed as it may not be as stable on that platform, and so that developers can focus their efforts on a great release for iPhone.

iOS 7 sports many great new features, as well as a flatter design and new app icons[4]. iOS 7 is the biggest change in iOS since the release of the first iPhone, and I am sure that there will be a learning curve as well as strong reactions from many users – both positive and critical.

I am of the opinion that from time-to-time a fundamental, in-your-face change to the look and feel of a system is important to combat the perception of stagnation. The trick is to migrate that change whilst maintaining the core of the user experience and all the good stuff.

I am looking forward to seeing if there are any Siri-esque surprise features to come in iOS 7. I suspect there might be.

Satellite Events

I think that each satellite event will have a senior Apple executive (not a country manger) hosting it. Tim Cook will chair run the show in Cupertino, and do a satellite intro elsewhere. Eddy Cue, Craig Federighi, Phil Schiller and Jeff Williams are likely to play a role at the core event, or host at the remote location.

Each event will recap the products and offerings launched at the Cupertino Core Event, and then will provide something unique to that country/region.

One more thing – simultanous release of the iPhone to even more markets is highly likely.

Beijing

More emphasis here will be placed on the launch of the iPhone 5C, but there will likely be an announcement of a partnership with China Mobile.

Tokyo

Wondering out loud, but given that NTT DoCoMo has lost 3.2 million customers due to the launch of iPhone, perhaps it is time for NTT DoCOMo to relax it’s walled garden approach to a user experience.

Berlin

I have no idea what will happen here. It could be just a play to have live events in each major timezone, especially given that the IFA conference is in town, and there will be a lot of tech media in town already. And Apple may want to steal some media thunder from, say, Samsung[5].

Conclusion

A new iPhone 5S and a lower-cost iPhone 5C, supported by a legacy iPhone 5 in 32GB are likely to be launched, with simultaneous availability in major global markets.

iOS 7 will release quickly, at least for iPhone. I think we’ll see a surprise or two.


  1. My predictions about the memory bumps was wishful thinking, but I think them more than likely…  ↩

  2. I suspect now that the iPhone 5, mid-range model, will probably now be a 32GB model. But that’s just a guess.  ↩

  3. I wish I could call it a probability rather than a possibility.  ↩

  4. Some of which are more popular than others.  ↩

  5. Samsung will launch the Galaxy Note 3 at the IFA event, and have just announced the Samsung Galaxy Gear smart watch immediately before the start  ↩

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