As Apple's (APPL) quarterly earnings report made it's way to the masses on Tuesday, reading between the lines, most acknowledge responses from Tim Cook indicated an iPhone 5S, iPad 5 or iPad Mini 2 release date won't likely be coming our way before the Fall of 2013, or even possibly till 2014. Though the hope that Apple would surprise us with a summer release of some new iDevice, the delay could be a good thing--that is if it means iOS 7 will see a make-over worth writing home about and if new devices show the exciting innovations Cook bragged about on Tuesday.
Though I'm sure no one at the corporate Apple headquarters was overly surprised about Tuesday's APPL earnings report, still, Wall Street and its stock holders weren't thrilled with what they learned.
According to the reports, Apple profits fell by 18% last quarter and many investors feel this could be the beginning of a slow and painfully continuing downward slope unless something new, something unprecedented, happens with Apple's upcoming products like the iPhone 5S, iPad 5 or even the iPhone 6.
One of the key indicators that Apple has become a bit stagnant in the development department could be the increase seen in sales of older or cheaper devices like the iPhone 4 and iPad Mini. Though sales were fairly robust for these models, on the whole they take away from Apple's profit margins.
With APPL shares falling nearly 25% this year, CEO Tim Cook acknowledged that growth was down.
"Although we've achieved incredible results, we acknowledge our growth rate has slowed," Cook said during an analysts earnings call, adding that, "it's very frustrating for us all."
With that acknowledgement, however, also came a hint at what the future could hold. "We will continue to focus on the long term and we remain very optimistic about our future ... We have a lot more innovations in the works ... Our teams are hard at work on some amazing new hardware, software, and services, and we are very excited about the products in our pipeline ... some really great stuff is coming in the fall and across all of 2014"
So what could this mean for new products such as the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and the iPad 5? Well something good we hope, despite the fact a summer release date for any new devices is likely out of the question.
The concept of a cheaper iPhone 5S releasing in the upcoming months is likely still on the table as Tim Cook noted that,
"China has an unusually large number of potential first-time smartphone buyers and that is not lost on us."
Revenues from China were up quite a bit in this last quarter with a favorite device being the iPad. Apple has long been hoping to get a foothold in foreign markets such as China and therefore it uses the strategy of affordable prices on older iPhone and iPad models, to boost customer base and loyalty. This could however, mean a continued drop in revenue while charting out the new territory.
Just this weekend we saw iPhone 5S release date rumors go wild as Tactus released alleged photos of the iPhone 5S casing which is a plastic based model---presumably the economy iPhone 5S. The economy iPhone 5S has been rumored to sell for around $250 which would certainly target the foreign market.
However, some are wondering if these new and exciting developments Cook alluded to could also mean the release of some new devices as well. Already we've heard plenty of stir this year concerning a possible wearable iOS device aka iWatch while at the same time, the idea of an iTV release is building steam. It's been little while since Apple released a new device-6 months to be exact and March, the month Apple typically announces new hardware innovations, came and went with nothing notable arriving.
If Apple iTV was to make it's way to our living rooms this fall, however, it could be just the "exciting" shakeup Apple needs to keep the company in the spotlight as a revolutionary tech leader.
The Apple iTV, if it materialized would bring together content from every possible source including TV studios, cable companies, broadcast networks and streaming content. This could eliminate the plethora of devices ad service plans we use currently to access our favorite content.
In terms of the classic iOS devices however, such as the iPhone and iPad, there is plenty of room for innovation in the hardware but particularly in the software. Our hope is this will be the year Apple will do it. With this seeming pushback in release dates for the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6 and iPad 5, it seems the company may be taking a step back an analyzing what it needs to do to make the devices and the operating system more of what the customer wants.
Though those in the jailbreak community repeatedly assert that an open or extended SDK which allows users to customize their devices would do wonders for Apple sales and customer draw, though possibility of this happening is pretty low. I wouldn't be surprised however, if we don't end up seeing some of the innovations from the jailbreak community showing up in iOS 7. Innovations like an unlocked grid, and customizable apps or widgets. Features which have been available for quite some time to iOS jailbreak users. Unfortunately for standard iOS users, they've been stuck with the same static homescreen since nearly the inception of the iPhone. ZDnet writer,Jason O'Grady also notes a number of changes he thinks Apple should be looking to make in its newest iOS 7 and the upcoming device releases, if it wants to keep users interested.
"Once iOS 7 is given to developers this summer, Apple needs to redouble its efforts on mobile hardware and explore features like NFC, inductive charging, better cameras and batteries. It also needs to include Retina displays in every mobile product (I'm looking at you, iPad mini). And if people want a five-inch smartphone, make a five inch iPhone! Why is Apple just giving away this market to Samsung/Google?
And it's time for Apple to address payments. Apple has sold almost 600 million iOS devices and I'm tired of Apple claiming that that mobile payments are in their "infancy." That's nonsense. As I mentioned in August and September 2012, Apple could singlehandedly move mobile payments into adulthood by investing in Passbook, NFC and other frictionless payment technologies and own the space! Or will it let Passbook wither and die like music and messaging?"
All these points and more may be precisely the reason Apple has chosen to slow down a bit a hold off on the release of new devices till the Fall of 2013 or even 2014. Perhaps it has noted that sales are declining, and it's not just due to offering cheaper older models. Perhaps it has realized that in bringing the iPhone 5S or 6 something pretty epic better happen on the hardware or software level or else Android just might take an even larger bite out of Apple's cake.
We can't really know what the future might hold for these updated Apple devices, but one thing we hope is that this time around Apple is beginning to think differently.
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