Does the iPhone need an accelerated release cycle?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by Mad Mac Maniac, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. Mad Mac Maniac macrumors 601

    Mad Mac Maniac

    Oct 4, 2007
    A little bit of here and a little bit of there.
    I believe the typical 1 year refresh timeline for the iPhone is starting to become rapidly outdated. All of the other manufacturers are EACH releasing a handful of premium smartphones each year. I realize that all of those devices are in parallel development and aren't necessarily iterative on each other, but so what. The reality is that the iPhone 5 will become outdated pretty quickly over the next year. It'll be competitive upon release, but in 6 months it will likely be inferior everything coming out. Especially when you look at the "left out" features such as NFC. NFC is basically in every premium smartphone and, even if it turns out to be a huge success (and I'm not talking mobile payments but all the other benefits), we would have to wait a full year before its even possible for the iPhone to get it.

    Another problem with the "exactly 1 year" release cycle is how it is pretty restricting. I would much rather Apple adopt a more "release it when it's ready" type approach. Imagine if an important technology that apple wanted to adopt in the iPhone 5 (incell display, the new efficient LTE chips, IGZO, A6 processor etc) wouldn't be ready till end of oct/beginning of Nov. I would rather Apple wait a month than say "Oh well" we'll have to release it without X feature. Or vice versa, Its possible that all of the components were available in june/july but apple wanted to maintain their 1 year cycle so they held off the release. Plus this prevents the halting of iPhone sales because everybody knows exactly when it's coming.

    That being said I would rather Apple shoot for closer to a 9 month timeframe for refresh (but only as a vague concept, still use the "release it when its ready" idea). I think this allows sufficient time to upgrade the hardware, ESPECIALLY because Apple would still maintain the 4/4s/5/5s strategy. This would result in an updated design every 1.5 years instead of 2 years. They would still be able to suck every penny out of each product by keeping them around at lower prices. But it would prevent something like the 3GS from happening, that device was released like 3 yrs 3 months ago and it's just now going away. So with this new timetable, iPhones would stay around for approx 2 years and 3 months. I think that is plenty sufficient time for a product to be sold.

    The only potential flaw that comes to mind is the fact that most providers give 2 year contracts. But I don't think that would be too bad, because I think most people become upgrade eligible by around 1.5 years typically. Or 2 yr 3 mos really isn't too bad to upgrade. I mean that's exactly how long I've had my iPhone 4.

  2. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    NFC has already been shipping for a while and it hasn't been anything close to a success.

    Apple doesn't need to iterate twice a year. The iPhone presents a stable platform. A nice annual target for application developers and hardware vendors to target.

    Moving to 6 month releases does not help application developer nor hardware vendor in any way.

    Since smartphones are on 2 year contracts often moving to a faster cycle doesn't help much there as well.
  3. Richardgm macrumors 6502a


    Aug 1, 2008
    The hardware can remain on the yearly cycle as long as they keep pushing the envelope.

    The software on the other hand needs more frequent iterations.
  4. Castle87 macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2012
    I think like someone mentioned, the software definitely should be updated more frequently. To keep up with an ever changing market. Technology grows exponentially, there may be something released sixth months from now that embarasses the iphone 5. That's just the way technology is. Ideally I would like an iphone, then six months after that, the S version, then six months after that, new iphone, and so on and so forth, so that every six months you have a new competitive product; but if they can just update the software more frequently, they won't have to do that.
  5. elementskins macrumors member


    Apr 5, 2012
    Metro Vancouver, Canada
    If they want to stay relevant, they are going to need to up their game. When they launched iPhone in 2007, there was nothing like it. Today, that's not the case. I'd really like to see them either broaden the line to a few different models (current models, not New, Old, and Older), or speed up the release cycle slightly.

    Palm and RIM are great examples of companies that controlled the smart phone market at one point and stopped innovating. We all know how that has worked out for them.

    Apple has been down this road before, lets hope they learned from their past. I think they have.
  6. lsutigerfan1976 macrumors 68020

    Sep 14, 2012
    I remember at one time working at CompUSA. We had Apple reps there. And other ppl from Apple come into the store from time to time. They claimed that Apple would purposely not put something on let's say iphone, ipod etc. Or even mac to hold off on the next one. Now how true it is or not, i dont know. But they said it was a good marketing ploy by them. Even if you had to wait another year for the new iphone or ipad whatever. It allowed ppl to always want the next apple product. It went with the always keep them wanting more motto.
  7. cambookpro macrumors 603


    Feb 3, 2010
    United Kingdom
    I too would like to see more frequent iOS upgrades. The hardware's fine, and the yearly cycles seem to please most people.
    Would like a new iOS every 6-9 months, though.
  8. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2011
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    I was thinking just the opposite, that the one year release cycle we now have results in what is seen as incremental upgrades, and that we only see substantiative upgrades by skipping a generation, i.e. 4 -> 5, rather than 4S -> 5. I'm not seeing how shortening the release cycle benefits Apple, in fact I think it could actually hurt them. Introducing models more frequently would drive up manufacturing costs and complicate the supply chain. It may also decrease sales if they know something better is just around the corner. A more frequent release schedule means that just around the corner happens more frequently.

    The Apple needs to do this because thats what other cell phone manufacturers are doing is not a convincing argument. Apple responds to the market as they see the market not as others perceive it. Not to say that Apple doesn't respond to what the Samsungs and Nokia's of the world are doing but its not a blind follow the leader responce, its a measured evaluation of where Apple believes the market is headed. Apple plays long term, I just can't see them taking a short term view as you suggest.
  9. jabingla2810 macrumors 68020

    Oct 15, 2008
  10. kenya71 macrumors newbie

    Sep 18, 2012
    Add another who's fine with the current hardware upgrade schedule, but would like more frequent IOS updates.

    Personally I think we're hitting the stage where hardware isn't the great differentiator but software.
  11. nostresshere macrumors 68030

    Dec 30, 2010
    It is working very well for them.

    Look at the annual sales for the iphone and compare to other companies.

    They are doing very well. Does not matter if any of us agree or not.
  12. KPOM macrumors G5

    Oct 23, 2010
    Some degree of unpredictability would help, as would plugging the leaks. Consumers are starting to catch on to Apple, as evidenced by the drop in sales in the June quarter. I'm guessing it got even worse in July and August.

    Apple seems to like the tick-tock cycle (it works well for Intel). A 10 month cycle could work, as it would sync up nicely with a 20-month "early upgrade" cycle for mobile phone companies. Alternatively, perhaps they could stretch it out with some minor spec bumps and more frequent software updates. For instance, if they refreshed the A6 and updated the software after 6 months (as the technology improved), even in a "quiet" update (such as what they do with Macs), that could work. I don't think they'll start that with the iPhone, though. They might experiment with the iPad, and dropping the numeric designation from the iPad might be one clue that they are heading in that direction. For instance, they can release an iPad with a Lightning connector whenever they want. They don't need to "wait" until March, although they certainly can if they want to.
  13. ixodes macrumors 601


    Jan 11, 2012
    Pacific Coast, USA
    A one year interval is quite reasonable.

    Remember Apple (like others) also plans it's obsolescence for each device it releases. Already rather quick to stop supporting their MBP's OS's for example, I'd hate to see Apple clamp down further.

    Especially now as they continue to make them like iDevices with nearly sealed and largely non-user serviceable designs.

    Besides at some point (if not already) Apple is going to run out of ideas.
  14. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2011
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    More frequent iOS updates may sound good in theory but I'm not convinced it would add any real value to the platform. First off it places an undue burden on the developer community. Developers would hardly get a chance to see a return on their investment before they needed to update their apps, and dont underestimate the imprtance of the dev comunity to the iPhones continued success. Secondly OS stability and familiarity are far more important than adding the latest feastures. Implementing unproven technologies or changing the look and feel solely to give yourself a fresh new look is not a good idea. Third, having to come up with new features often leads to bloated software as you look for filler to justify your more frequent updates.
  15. scaredpoet, Sep 18, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012

    scaredpoet macrumors 604


    Apr 6, 2007
    I dunno, 5 years+ worth of OS support on the MBP doesn't seem "quick" to me.

    Not to mention, Apple has by far provided the longest OS support for their phones than any other manufacturer. Tomorrow, iPhone 3GS owners are *still* going to be able to update to the latest version of iOS.

    By contrast, how many owners of 2009-model Android devices have been able to update to Jelly Bean? Oh right, zero.

    How many current-model Blackberry phones, let alone the three year old models, will get an upgrade to Blackberry OS 10 when it comes out? Oh right, zero.

    How many Windows Phone 7 devices will get upgraded to Windows Phone 8? So far, that's up in the air, but it doesn't look good.

    That said, I think the current release cycle is fine. The problem with the likes of Samsung and other manufactures is, they release lots of new phones with specs that look nice on paper, but they have their shortcomings. If it takes a year to make a GREAT phone, but only a few months to make a bunch of mediocre phones, I'll take the yearly cycle.
  16. lulla01 macrumors 68020


    Jul 13, 2007
  17. CyBeRino macrumors 6502a

    Jun 18, 2011
    I think that is a terrible idea.

    Instead of focusing on one product and making that the best they can, they have to divide their attention betwixt a plethora of devices. None of which are going to be as good as if the one device had their undivided attention.

    Also, it makes the customer feel bad for their purchase: 'I bought this three months ago, now there's already a newer version!?' and maybe want to not buy: 'if I wait three more months, there'll be a better phone out, so I'll see then', with the risk of that repeating a few times if the new toy isn't to their liking.

    With iPhone, if you buy a phone you're going to know pretty well when the time comes for there to be a new model: about one year later. This is a reasonable time-frame, too. No one expects their toy to be the newest thing out there forever, but companies like Samsung certainly take it to extremes with the amount of models they have out there.

    In fact, people like this kind of regularity. It means they can plan ahead. I know more than a few people who were really waiting for the 4S and were quite miffed when that was pushed backwards a few months: they were expecting to have had a new phone by then.

    So no on the 'wait for some feature to be ready to release'. Instead, if it isn't ready, just don't ship it with that feature. If it's software, add it later. If it's hardware, save it for the next model a year later. If it was only just ready for this model, it's probably not good enough yet anyway.
  18. jclardy macrumors 68040


    Oct 6, 2008
    The thing is NFC really won't become widely adopted until Apple implements it. And that may never happen.

    People are talking about movie posters with NFC tags and other stuff like that. Thats great, but has already been tried years ago with 2d barcodes. The difference? A 2d barcode doesn't cost anything to print on a poster, but an NFC tag does cost money.

    Meaning, no one is going to use them if half of their potential user base is cut out.

    What would the point of a 6 month release cycle when people are bound with 2 year contracts? The only people who buy on day 1 are the ones who actually care about the upgrades, through out the year it is just people with expired contracts who want the newest iPhone, and couldn't care less that the S4 takes 3 less milliseconds to open a webpage.

    So with a 6 month cycle you only serve to annoy your most hardcore fan base, as having the "latest & greatest" will cost an arm and a leg off contract every time.
  19. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Mar 9, 2011
    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    Not sure that Apples backing would make NFC a success, though it certianly wouldnt hurt. Unless Visa, MC, , Amex get behind it I don't see it succeeding as a payment system. NFC's other features while kind of cool, are pretty geeky and not likely to catch on with the mainstream. The 2d barcodes is a good example of a much hyped tech that went no where, and lets not forget RFID.
  20. CyBeRino macrumors 6502a

    Jun 18, 2011
    Apple can make a lot of things cool, but I don't see NFC as one of them until there is some substantial use of it already. At that point, they can accelerate its usage.

    So far, that substantial use is only seen in Japan, and there it's already as popular as it'll ever be.
  21. takeshi74 macrumors 601

    Feb 9, 2011
    The old "X must be like Y to succeed" argument? :rolleyes:

    Have you seen the 5's sales numbers?
  22. sixteen12 macrumors regular

    Nov 14, 2011
    Other manufacturers only really release one major phone a year.

    Galaxy S--- summer 2010
    Galaxy s 2 ---- spring 2011
    Galaxy s 3 ----- summer 2012

    Don't confuse the Galaxy S 2 jam sandwich variants as a different phone, they essentially change something slightly and only release it for certain carriers. I don't think anybody wants apple to release 2 phones a year where the only change is the button placement.
  23. erratikmind macrumors 6502a


    Apr 2, 2009
    S.F./Las Vegas
  24. TheBuffather macrumors 6502


    Jul 19, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Apple broke the mold by NOT releasing a slew of different phones sporadically throughout the year. They release one amazing phone about once a year.

    Quality over quantity.
  25. NewbieCanada macrumors 68030

    Oct 9, 2007
    If Apple was releasing a few times a year, how would they build excitement and anticipation?

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