Opinion Did you hear? There’s an Apple event coming. So, what can you expect from Apple’s annual iPhone reveal this year? We know nothing for certain, but the leaks are plentiful enough to make some reasonable predictions.
While we wait, I’ve compiled a few thoughts on what to what to expect. So these are my predictions for Apple’s 2013 iPhone event. Agree or disagree? Head to the comments for a (polite) debate.
1. The ‘cheap’ iPhone won’t be that cheap
Rumours of a ‘cheap’ iPhone have been doing the rounds for months, but your or my idea of ‘cheap’ isn’t the same as Apple’s. Is there a need for an appealing, unique and more affordable iPhone? Definitely. It’s long overdue and the iPhone 5C rumours are strong enough that it’s a near certainty now. But does that mean you’ll be able to pickup a brand new iPhone for £200? Not on your nelly.
It’s smart for Apple to court more frugally minded consumers, but it won’t sacrifice quality or a healthy profit margin to do so. More likely, the iPhone 5C (if that’s what it’ll be called) will sit somewhere between the current iPhone 4S (from £449 SIM-free) and the iPhone 4 (from £319 SIM-free).
Imagine the current iPhone 5 innards in a cheaper to build design, maybe using the camera from the 4S rather than the one featured in the iPhone 5. We think most have a decent idea of what this ‘cheap’ iPhone will be like. Slap a £350 to £400 SIM-free price tag on it (around 25% less than the current iPhone 5) and Apple has a good chance of sweeping up a large chunk of the ‘mid-range’ market.
Whatever Apple chooses to do, it’s more likely to launch a new phone at the current 4S price than a seriously cheap one.
2. The iPhone 5C won’t be the 5C, or the 5S won’t be the 5S
Or, in other words, there is no way Apple will launch two new phones with the ‘5’ moniker. It’s a recipe for confusion Apple is far too smart to fall into. Assuming Apple launches a ‘cheaper’ iPhone, and I believe it will, it would send the wrong message to give it the same numerical moniker as Apple’s top-end phone. It would say: “here are two iPhones that just as good as each other,” thus devaluing the high-end phone.
This could go several ways. Apple could miss 5S and go straight to 6, saving the ‘5C’ name for its cheaper model. It could give the cheaper iPhone a different name, such as iPhone Color (sic) or similar, or it could go down a similar route as it has with the iPad and drop numeric naming altogether. I won’t predict which route Apple will choose, but I’m certain it will make certain no one could conflate the two.
3. iWatch? Dream on.
This is straightforward, really. Apple can’t keep secrets anymore. That much is obvious. While everyone continues to talk about an iWatch, we’re yet to see a single significant leak about it. For that reason alone I’m certain it won’t appear. Moreover, consider Samsung’s and Sony’s distinctly mediocre efforts so far, Apple doesn’t need to rush to show its hand.
4. There won’t be any iPads
Two iPhones, iOS 7 and a bunch of other stuff (which I’ll get onto in a moment) is quite enough for one event, so new iPads will probably have to wait until October. Why? That’s when OS X Mavericks is due, which makes it a good time to combine some new Mac announcements with the latest on the iPads.
5. Greater focus on enterprise
One of the more persistent rumours is that the iPhone 5S will include a fingerprint reader built into the home button, and I think it will play into a larger theme of courting enterprise customers more deliberately.
That’s because now is the time to double-down on Apple’s existing (and somewhat accidental) strength as the executive phone of choice. BlackBerry is in disarray, Microsoft has bungled mobile and (bizarrely) largely ignored enterprise, and Android is seen as too risky and insecure for companies serious about security.
A fingeprint reader on the iPhone could allow Apple to support two-factor authentication, which is bound to please many a sys admin, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple introduced a few more enterprise-friendly software features along the way.
6. Free iWork and iLife apps on iOS
This has been speculated after some leaked App Store screenshots, and it’s one rumour I’m happy to hang my hat on, because:
a) This would be consistent: iLife, at least, is already free on Macs (iPhoto et al is included on any new Mac). iWork (Pages etc.) isn’t, but perhaps Apple will make the change as well? The iWork apps on Mac OS are long in the tooth anyway.
b) It supports Apple’s ecosystem: There are now beta web app versions of iWork on iCloud.com and what better way to support them, and iCloud, than to make the iOS apps free?
Profits from apps are likely to be modest, so making them free won’t hurt Apple’s bottom line much but will strengthen Apple’s ecosystem and ‘lock-in’ effect. It makes perfect sense.
7. Content focused Apple TV update (with games)
Lots of column inches have been wasted on the idea of an actual Apple TV: i.e. a screen and everything. This won’t happen. The margins on TVs are too thin and benefits too small.
What Apple will do, however, is give the Apple TV a serious software update, and maybe a hardware one along the way. Moreover, the updates will focus on content: TV and games. TV through partnerships and apps, like the Sky News one that appeared recently, and games via AirPlay with iPhones and iPads and the much rumoured iOS game game controllers.