Article: No iPhone? No Problem.

by on March 29, 2011

Apple’s announcement for WWDC and the speculation that followed left many wondering what it meant for the next iPhone. Right now, I’m not worrying, even though it could affect my next iPhone purchase (since my contract was signed in June). Here’s why you shouldn’t either.

There are a number of iPhone 3GS (and 4) users who are anxiously awaiting the summer to upgrade to Apple’s latest and greatest smartphone. The original iPhone users who renewed their contracts with the 3GS are going to be ready for the next thing. Because of AT&T’s two-year contracts, there is a staggered cycle for iPhones. Most who have an iPhone 4 will not be willing to pay full-price to get an iPhone 5, just as many who had a 3GS decided to pass on an iPhone 4. A subsidized $199 or $299 every two years is a lot easier to swallow than $199/$299 and then $599/$699 a year later, even with eBay and other places to unload your old phone.

Whatever the case may be, it will further mess up the upgrade cycle, so AT&T (and maybe Verizon) can entice people who are closer to whenever the new release date is with early upgrades. Although this is hypothetical, it will cause folks who are off-contract to wait a little, while those who are still on contract to not get antsy about the iPhone “aging”.

It also gives Apple some time to really innovate. Call me cocky, but right now, I still have yet to see a phone that really makes the almost-year-old iPhone 4 seem dated (except maybe some that have dual-core CPUs, four inch screens, or the fake 4G AT&T is pushing). Either way, we’re still going to be in a 3G world for a bit longer (heck, there’s still plenty of EDGE to go around), and the iPhone 4 is plenty fast. For the average user who wants something that works, takes decent pictures, surfs the web, and can play media, the iPhone 4 is still sufficient.

Most importantly, this gives Apple the spotlight to shine on its operating systems. There’s plenty of life left in the A4-based iOS devices, and why not radically change the software to compete with the developments over at Google, HP, and RIM? Apple has proven before that a major software update can revitalize even slightly-older hardware, so some changes could really make a lot of folks stick with the platform.

As for the Mac, we know what’s going to happen there. Still, by focusing the announcement on a new iOS and Mac OS X 10.7 Lion, neither will be upstaged with some sort of hardware announcement.

Finally, this gives Apple a chance to outsmart it’s competitors. Everyone knows the iPhone gets an update to both hardware and software in June and the iPod family gets a refresh in September. By keeping this trend, competitors can plan their launches accordingly to try to thwart Apple’s efforts.

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