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iPhone 6 rumor rollup for the week ending March 21

John Cox | March 24, 2014
There was a strong theme of self-congratulation in this week's iOSphere rumors about the iPhone 6: we already "know" so much about this phone, and of course about Apple's plans. Or at least about what Apple should be doing.

Jones argues that Apple should release iPhone 6 as soon as possible because  "of course Apple is losing sales to competitor's larger screen smartphones." Apparently droves of iPhone and Android users coming off their two-year mobile contracts are flocking to those big-screen monster phones from Samsung or the other dozen or so smartphone vendors that are sharing the tiny percentage of the market not claimed by Samsung and Apple.

He doesn't bother to cite any data. But more importantly, he's vastly oversimplifying the market and the buyers who make it up. He implies that the primary criteria for most buyers is simply the size of the screen. Samsung: big screen. Apple: small screen. It's a no-brainer, eh? Yet in the Oct-Dec 2013 quarter Apple sold over 50 million iPhones, a new record, nearly all of them with a 4-inch display.

For years, Apple has been "losing customers" to cheap, high-volume Android smartphones. Yet Apple clearly has no intention of pursuing that market. So far that strategy has led Apple to the point where it commands 87 percent of all mobile industry profits, according to one estimate. That's actually an increase over the previous year share of 78 percent. The same estimate puts Samsung's share at just over 32 percent, which adds up to 119 percent, which means that remaining vendors are losing money in this business.

Jones' second reason for an ASAP iPhone 6 is that "it would be better from a manufacturing perspective to not have to build for such a huge spike in demand....This means its contract manufacturers have to staff up and run their factories with a lot of overtime and then probably have to ramp down their staffing levels. I spent the first three years of my IBM career in a manufacturing site and what everyone wants is a smooth production schedule, not one with peaks and valleys."

We don't always get what want.

But more importantly, think about Jones' description of the problem and his solution. Apple has been planning to release iPhone 6 in September with all those inefficient, costly manufacturing hills and valleys (Apple CEO Tim Cook, we hope you're paying attention!). So Jones wants Apple to change that: to move that entire complex process up by three months or six months. What does he think that change will do to the overtime costs, manpower needs, and production schedule? Rushing to get the iPhone 6 out earlier than planned will create a production peak that makes Mount Everest look like prairie dog burrow

There are a lot of unknowns about the 2014 iPhone models, including whether the high-end phone will be changed into a bigger-screened device, or whether Apple will introduce a separate third iPhone model, creating a three-phone portfolio: the follow-ons to the 5c and 5s (will they have larger screens also?), and a new even-larger-screen model.

 

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