This Is Why It's Taking so Damn Long for Apple to Make Your Next iPhone

Categories: Tech
iphone 5.jpg
Is it worth waiting for? Yes.

Update: Comscore data released Thursday shows that Apple's iPhone (IOS) is gaining in the smartphone market, just days after Goldman Sachs dialed back expectations for the company. That bodes well for the iPhone 5s.

This week bloggers were in a tizzy about revelations that Apple has two new iPhones in the hopper, much to the chagrin of San Francisco DA George Gascón who criticized Apple for not including anti-theft technology in the newest phones. 

While the DA groused about a recent surge of iPhone burglaries reported in San Francisco, bloggers were more excited by the prospect of another product launch. Turns out, the iPhone 5s, which were designed under the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs, may arrive as early as June. 

That announcement had some consumers salivating, while other, less patient people, were wondering why it's taken Apple so long to introduce its next product to the masses.

More than a year has passed since Jobs' death, after all, and it's safe to assume the engineers at Apple haven't frittered all that time away, letting Android phones outpace Apple. In fact, a long, laborious product cycle is typical of Apple, says industry analyst Horace Dediu, noting that the original iPhone and iPad took six or seven years from conception to execution.

Although it's not unusual for smartphone companies to operate on a five-year "roadmap" (Nokia, RIM, and Motorola have toiled that long over individual products), Apple especially likes to take its sweet time, because it prefers to build high-end, "deeply-engineered," "integrated" products as opposed to the cheaper, off-the-shelf versions favored by Android manufacturers, Dediu says.

While manufacturers, including Samsung and HTC, make dozens of models each year by mixing and matching parts from their suppliers, Apple tries to build most of its phones from scratch.

That approach has helped solidify Apple's reputation for its consistently sleek design, but it's also hurt the company's performances in the marketplace, analysts say. In light of sputtering underwhelming iPhone 5 sales and an abysmal stock performance over the last two quarters, Apple is feeling heat from investors and shareholders. Many of them grumble that the company hasn't dropped a real tentpole product since the iPad dropped in 2010 -- and some worry that company's forthcoming iOS 7 phone will miss its 2014 due date because of delays in software development. 

But others are opting for the silver lining: Under increased pressure from its cheaper competitors, Apple also plans to release a less-expensive iPhone this year. Perhaps the famously inflexible company is finally becoming a bit more yielding.

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8 comments
leahrachelswan
leahrachelswan

@danieleran You're right, "sputtering" was a poor word choice -- I changed it to "underwhelming," as in failing to meet expectations.

@dodd: yep, new iPhone generations typically arrive on 6 month cycles (4 - June 2009, 4S-- Oct. 2011, 5 Sept. 2012). Point isn't so much that their release dates are staggered that way, but that they take a long time to craft.

Zach Middleton
Zach Middleton

The grammar in this piece is abysmal. Do you have editors over there?

danieleran
danieleran

"sputtering iPhone 5 sales"? It's the best selling phone in most markets, including the US. It set new records for Apple. The company struggled to make enough to meet demand. Also, what "tentpoles" have been dropped by the collective tech industry since the iPad? Which of those have sold better than any of the iPad sequels, or iPhone models, or MacBooks for that matter?

danieleran
danieleran

"sputtering iPhone 5 sales"? It's the best selling phone in most markets, including the US. It set new records for Apple. The company struggled to make enough to meet demand.

Also, what "tentpoles" have been dropped by the collective tech industry since the iPad? Which of those have sold better than any of the iPad sequels, or iPhone models, or MacBooks for that matter?

dodd
dodd

The iPhone 5 came out in late September. That's a little over 6 months ago, and iPhones have come out on a yearly (or more) basis since the original.


If someone is seriously demanding to know why there isn't a new iPhone out, maybe they should look up some release dates.

RobSF
RobSF

I don't think that is 6-month cycles.  Those are 1-year cycles, and in some cases, longer.
From Wikipedia:
1st gen: June 29, 2007
3G: July 11, 2008  (12 months)
3GS: June 19, 2009 (12 months)
4: June 24, 2010 (12 months)
4S: October 14, 2011 (16 months - Siri and iOS delay)
5: September 21, 2012 (11 months)

If the 5S dropped in June it would be the shortest gap between iphones yet.  Perhaps the story should be "Why is Apple dumping the 5S on the market so quickly after the 5?"

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