So it didn't have NFC.. Yeah, we've seen the iPhone 5 now and there is a mild sense of disappointment. We had hoped for more (and there was no split in the iPhone product line to give us an iPhone Nano.. shame). But what did we get?
WHAT IS NEW
iPhone 5 finally breaks with the 3.5 inch screen size, and grows the screen to 4 inches. That is a big change but is nowhere near the biggest screen out there. When the iPhone originally was introduced, against most rivals it was the biggest screen (except some uberphones like the Nokia Communicator E90 which did have a 4 inch screen - back in year 2006 haha). The screen dimensions change to 16:9 format so the iPhone keeps the same width but is noticeably longer and helps make viewing movies and modern TV shows better. This is all good but is more of a catch-up to the rivals and is nowhere near the leadership where we see 5 inch jumboscreens on some smartphones already.
The camera stays at 8mp in nominal size but adds plenty of clever gimmicks and tricks and software, including a panorama photo feature that allows taking super-wide pictures running 28mp. Neat trick, kind of Apple-ish. I had hoped Apple would jump the mainstream and go for 12mp but no, they rather made the iPhone even thinner. Do we really want a thinner iPhone, is this as good a selling point as now in late 2012, a larger camera sensor would have been? But yeah, the inward camera adds its resolution to HD and there are lotsa nice little advances here, but nothing radical beyond the panorama feature.
LTE is the new top speed in terms of cellular connectivity. It is important in some markets especially the US market and brings the iPhone 5 to be on par with top-end smartphones, this is also good. What else do we get? Not really much. Yes, obviously, the new Apple iOS software version, and a faster processor and some technical tweaks here and there, but there was no NFC, no wireless charging etc. There is a new smaller connector meaning all old iPhone accessories are now useless and switching to this iPhone 5 means also buying new accessories, but that is life in high tech and Apple is no more guilty of this than other tech makers over time.
Its a bit thinner, a bit lighter, its battery runs longer.. Yeah, these are improvements that mostly make it seem like an iPhone 4S+. But because the screen is bigger for the first time ever, and the physical outside dimensions are clearly changed, this is legitimately a true new number for the iPhone series, its fair to call it the iPhone 5. What will likely happen, like always before, the first edition (base number iPhone) is a bit of a disappointment, but the S version a year later will be the far better model. So thats my review.. How will it do?
WHAT KIND OF SALES TO EXPECT
This iPhone 5 will sell like hot cakes. It will set the iPhone fanbase on fire, they will stand in line to get the iPhone with the biggest screen ever, and will love every tiny change in the maps or Siri or other parts in the whole package. If you are an iPhone owner - they have by far the best customer loyalty - of course if its time to upgrade to a new iPhone, you'll be wanting this iPhone 5. It will help turn the Q3 (calendar Quarter, not Apple fiscal quarter ie July-September quarter) sales into solid growth with long lines of iPhonistas stayhing overnight to be among the first to own the iFive. And then the masses will consider what to buy for Christmas and this iPhone 5 will show up in lots of stockings and propel Apple to its best quarter ever, in fact the best quarter of any company in any industry, ever, for the Q4 Christmas quarter (October-December quarter) in 2012. And then, don't expect any after-Christmas blues, as we get the Chinese New Year gift-giving season of the biggest smartphone market in the world, in Q1 of 2013, the iPhone 5 will be loved in China too and help bring a 'surprisingly' good Q1 January-March quarter for Apple the superb tech darling and Wall Street miracle company of the next nine months.
What kind of numbers? I'd say on VERY rough terms, expect iPhone Christmas sales Q4 to be about 58 million iPhones of all models, vs 37 million last Christmas, ie a growth of a whopping 57% in one year and exceeding the growth rate of the industry. For Q4 the iPhone would have about 25% market share of all smartphones and the Apple branded mobile phone handset will have roughly 11% global market share of all phones sold that quarter. Truly impressive statistics for this company that only 5 years ago entered the fiercely competitive mobile phone market with a peculiar unconventional touch-screen 2G featurephone called the iPhone that didn't even do apps at the time..
Obviously the iPhone 5 hysteria will also help push the whole Mac, iPod, iPad and iOS ecosystem along and keep Apple solidly in the mindset of all developers (700,000 total iOS apps, 450,000 of those for the iPhone itself).
For the full year, Apple's iPhone growth inches up again in market share just a bit. In total sales, expect 2012 calendar year full iPhone sales to end in the range of 145 to 150 million and this would give the iPhone a global market share of about 20% to 21%. What Apple really (REALLY, REALLY) needs to do, if they want to return to the strong growth years of 2007-2008-2009 when they simply gobbled up market share, is to move down in price with spreading the model range and introduce that iPhone Nano model I have been begging for on this blog now for two years.. The iPhone 5 will sell very well in affluent markets, but that is not where the smartphone industry is headed. We heard from Deloitte earlier this year, that 38% of all smartphones sold this year have an unsubsidised price of under 100 dollars. The unsubsidised price of the iPhone 5 is about 650 dollars and the unsubsidised price of the iPhoen 4S is about 600 dollars. These are not viable as mass market smartphones in Africa or India or much of where the global growth is now. The US and European markets are nearing sautration for smartphone migration already, even there the growth is in low-cost smartphones. But who am I to give advice to the most profitable company that ever existed haha, they are happy with the money they make, and don't care if some more profit (or happy new Apple iPhone customers) are left on the table..
A BIT ON COMPETITION
Just to keep it all in context, Samsung sold 50 million smartphones in Q2 vs Apple's 26 million iPhones, and the current Samsung Galaxy S3 and Galaxy Note and other Galaxy devices are very competitive in this space already. Expect some Samsung magic still to be announced before Christmas and Samsung will easily win the full year 2012 smartphone sales as the world's biggest smartphone maker. I also expect Samsung to rather easily beat the iPhone in the Christmas sales period, so if the iPhone does something like 58 million units, Samsung's total smartphone portfolio (which also includes bada and even Windows Phone 8 models) will sell something in the range of 70 million to 75 million smartphones for Christmas clearly exceeding total Apple iPhone sales worldwide. And against these, Nokia total sales on all three of its smartphone platforms might be in the scale of 6 or 7 million and total Windows Phone on all manufacturers (Nokia Lumia,.HTC, Samsung etc) and all Windows platforms (Windows Mobile, Windows Phone 7.x, Windows Phone 8) will do maybe 4 million. That is hardly your third ecosystem there haha. Remember just before Nokia's mad CEO Stephen Elop set his platform on fire just 18 months ago, Nokia sold more than all Apple iPhones and all Samsung smartphones - combined! Nokia did this with a highly profitable smartphone unit that grew sales in the previous year more than Apple or more than Samsung too..
For those who need to understand more about the mobile handset market, check out my TomiAhonen Phone Book which is just about to release its 2012 edition. And if you want to understand where this industry is headed, check out the TomiAhonen Mobile Forecast 2012-2015