It’s been widely reported that the iPhone 5 may be released in October, marking the first new iPhone release in over a year and placing it in all retail stores by the holiday season. Rumors have also flown that the iPad 3 may be released before the holidays, though Apple seems to have squashed those today.
Right now, the brand enjoys a lofty position in the tech world as the clear industry leader, doling out products with which every other business aspires to compete. But how much is too much? Would people be willing to shell out big bucks for a new iPhone and new iPad more than once a year? Should Apple be releasing them at such a rapid-fire pace?
Let’s turn this baby into a pros and cons list.
Money. A lot of it. Apple products are a cash cow, and having the iPhone 5 and the iPad 3 readily available for the holidays would make the company more money, at least in the short term. Having a constant flow of new products would also give them incentive to lower the price of the slightly older products, which could help them reach new, lower-paying audiences.
Keeping the Apple name in the headlines. Publicity is vital for companies, especially ones that deal in crowded fields like those of smartphones and tablets. With an increase in the amount of products released, Apple will be in the news far more often, and it’ll give its competitors less time to try to keep up. Apple already dominates a big share of the tech news out there. Putting more products out will only increase that.
How much money are consumers willing to spend? Inundating the market with Apple products could lead customers to make an undesired decision - which new product should they buy if they can’t afford more than one? Apple has been able to create the image that customers need new products at all costs. If people don’t buy one of their new devices, somehow the world will go on without them. If they learn, conversely, that it won’t, the need to remain up-to-date going forward will decrease. Apple should be trying to hide that reality.
How much can these devices improve in such a short time? With new products and escalating prices comes the expectation that The Big New Thing will be a marked improvement over what already exists. If they keep coming out so quickly, how much can each iteration really improve? Each version of the iPhone and iPad has had improvements from the previous one, but Apple may not be able to keep up with the pace they’ve established for themselves. If there isn’t enough of a difference, the onus to buy will decrease, and customers will think that they can wait to splurge until the next edition comes out.
Apple overkill. Let’s take an example from our friends in the movie business. Most high-profile sequels take a few years to come out, and when they do, it’s usually during the summer or holiday blockbuster season and to much fanfare. In fact, most sequels wind up having more profitable opening weekends than their originals did. But look at the Saw franchise, which had a movie come out every year around Halloween from 2004 until last year. Saw II made an impressive 87 million dollars domestically, an outstanding number for an R-rated horror movie. But then a new movie came out each year. Profits eventually dwindled, and Saw VI, which came out in 2009, only made a paltry $27 million stateside. The franchise had overstepped its boundaries, and demand for new movies had all but evaporated. The audience wasn’t ready for more of what they’d had for so long. There’s a lesson here for Apple.
Apple’s lofty place in the tech market gives them choices that other companies don’t have. Other brands need to find their audience in order to rise to the top, which gives them less ways to proceed. They need to make the best possible product, and release it right away to make a name for themselves. Apple doesn’t need suffer from that urgency. They already hold a captive audience, and can manipulate that in any way they choose. It may be tempting to keep bludgeoning customers with new products, but patience may be the key for long-term success. Apple has established their place as the leader of the tech industry; now it’s on them to stay there.