iPhone 5 mockupSince the beginning of this year, rumor after rumor has circulated about Apple’s latest iteration of their immensely popular iPhone line. I don’t need to tell you that the iPhone 4 has been tremendously successful, and Apple has been selling them just as quickly as they can roll off of production lines. With such a successful phone, it was initially guessed/suggested/prophesied that the next iPhone would receive only minor changes, essentially rendering it an ‘S’ model (think iPhone 3GS). Now, I’m going to tell you that the iPhone 4S moniker would be a misnomer.

“Why?” whisper the confused masses in hushed tones.

“Why would Steve Jobs scrap the design of such a successful device? Why would he not iterate it as slowly and as painfully as possible?” Two simple reasons:

Apple Hates the iPhone 4

Who can forget the pre-release Gizmodo leak from 2010? We all know the story: Apple employee mistakenly leaves phone at bar, phone is sold to Gizmodo. The entire city of Cupertino facepalms and Ninja-Steve leads a strike team to raid the editor’s house. The device was recovered, but the launch was spoiled. The company’s secretive ways are legendary, and no one revels in a suspenseful presser like Steve Jobs. At least they could relax once the phones hit shelves, right? Cue Antennaegate. The phone is beautiful, but suffers from signal-loss when the handset is held “improperly.” The culprit: the newly designed antennae system that was lauded as an advance in engineering during the launch. When Consumer Reports says that it cannot recommend the device due to the signal issue, the media takes the story and runs with it. Steve frowns. Strike two. As if this weren’t enough, people are beginning to take notice of the phone’s glass backside. Surely you’ve seen pictures of it. Shattered.

Shareholders love the phone. They tend to love things that make money. If a vomitous mass of pukeworms and garlic made money, they’d love it. Back to the point.

The point is that Apple got to where they were by not following the money, but by pushing design and by making sure the innards of their products were modern as well. Just as importantly, their products have been durable. Take any Apple product starting in the Newjobsian Era. All of the products are built like tanks. Heck, I TRIED to destroy my 1st generation iPod touch, and only halfway succeeded in doing so after hurling it to the ground, full-force. Repeatedly. The rest of the Apple fleet is a sturdy bunch: The iMac and MacBook Pro are made of anodized aluminum, as is the Mac Mini. An army of unbreakable brutes vs. a shatter-prone, malfunctioning slab. You can see why the head-honchos want to distance themselves from this one. Distancing oneself. This leads us to point deux.

Apple’s Competition is no longer the Treo

According to last count, there are about 10,067,343,982 different Android configurations*[1]. Until the release of the G1, the only competition Apple had for the smartphone market was . . . itself? Apple never faced serious competition*[2] before the introduction of Android, and lately the OS has been on a tear. 550,000 activations daily. That’s 550,000 new Android phones being activated a day. Android has risen to the top in smartphone OS market share. Android means options. New options. Apple may have released a new iPhone a little over one year ago, but Samsung, HTC and a bevy of other OEMs have released new phones this month. Phones now have dual-cores, qHD and Super AMOLED + screens, NFC support and so much more. Apple still has their retina display (made by LG, of course), but what else do they really have that sets them apart, aside from a beautiful, breakable design? In regard to specs, Apple right now is in a catch-up position. That’s not a game Apple usually has to play. They don’t like to be on-par with the competition, or even just ahead. They like to be different.

Maybe I’m a crazyman. Maybe I should be tied up in a Posey vest and made to intern for Mihalis Lazaridis. But I don’t think so. So, in September, when you’re listening to Steve introduce the next revolutionary and paradigm-shifting product, don’t be surprised to see him touting a drastically redesigned, durable piece of hardware.

It will be magical.

*[1]I really have no idea, but the number must be outstanding.


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