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iPhone 5 rumor rollup for the week ending Aug. 24

John Cox | Aug. 27, 2012
As summer wanes, the iOSphere this week unhesitatingly dredged up the most tenuous and implausible allusions, inferences, hints, and of course teases for iPhone 5. All in good fun.

DigiTimes' source, assuming one actually exists, may even be right -- at some point there may have been a problem, or likely more than one, in yields of this or that new iPhone component. But these rumors completely lack context, such as when did the yield problem occur? In any case, manufacturing and supply chain processes and schedules are designed to identify and then fix exactly these kinds of problems.

The Wall Street Journal reported this week that LG Display Co. CEO Han Sang-beom said the company has begun mass production of the in-cell panels, though he didn't say they're destined for iPhone 5. And he acknowledged there have been problems in the past.

"We had some hard times (in developing the new in-cell technology) at first ... but it seems those hard times have finally ended," Sang-beom told reporters. "The in-cell technology is the industry's latest development. (But) we will be able to supply the panels without any fail."

iPhone 5 will be bought by a whole lot of people

To put that into investor jargon, iPhone 5 "will see strong demand from consumers," according to a survey report by Robert W. Baird analyst William Power, as reported by Teresa Rivas at Forbes' Tech Trader Daily.

Baird got responses from 2,000 people though Rivas doesn't report much detail about the composition of the survey. Of the sample, 39% said they are now eligible for a phone upgrade on their cellular contract (another 6% will be eligible within three months). Of these eligible respondents, 45% said they plan to buy an iPhone and the "vast majority are waiting for the iPhone 5," writes Rivers. "The next biggest group, 31%, said that they were undecided on their next phone, and those planning to buy Google's Android devices rounded out the bottom at 22%."

Power's conclusion: "Those percentages, if they held, could suggest 50 million+ iPhone 5 sales in the U.S. alone, well above current forecasts."

In other words, a lot of people will buy the next iPhone. Let's face it: That's been true since the first iPhone was released in 2007 (though to be fair, Power's job is providing more technical guidance to investors, for whom accurate projections of sales bear on investment decisions).

Asymco's Horace Dideu has made several posts dealing with iPhone sales dynamics (first here and then here). A key element is the decision by fiercely loyal existing iPhone owners to eventually upgrade to a new iPhone model. Another is the decision facing feature phone users trying to decide on their first smartphone purchase.

Apple's strategy of offering older iPhone models at much lower prices has been one way of bringing in first-time smartphone buyers, and snagging their loyalty, turning them eventually into repeat buyers. Android is only now starting to face the loyalty test: As users come to the end of their first two-year contracts, will they stick with Android?


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