Rumors and Apple go together like summer and baseball. They are virtually inseparable. One of the prevailing Apple rumors right now is that the iPhone 5 will launch sometime in September. If that rumor comes true, smartphone rivals better buckle up because it could be a bumpy ride.
A recent survey found that 35 percent of consumers plan to get an iPhone 5 when it becomes available--and that is sight unseen with no official confirmation of its form or features. That is too large a number to be easily dismissed as Apple fanboys just trading their old iPhone for a new one.
With somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million mobile phone users in the United States, 35 percent represents more than 100 million customers anxious to grab an iPhone 5. With some estimates suggesting there are currently 50 million iPhone users out there, Apple could double its market share with the new model.
We already have the iPhone 4, and there are plenty of Android and Windows Phone 7 smartphones that are equivalent, and even superior in some ways. So, why is the iPhone 5 creating such a frenzy?
iPhone 3GS Holdouts. When the iPhone 4 launched, there was a bit of controversy over the antenna, and the proximity sensor, and more. As successful as it has been, the initial stumbling of the iPhone 4 turned a lot of people off. Many iPhone 3GS users have held on to their trusty smartphone, and have waited patiently for the iPhone 5 to come along.
Verizon Holdouts. When Verizon got the iPhone 4 earlier this year, it was a huge success. However, many Verizon customers chose not to jump on the iPhone 4 bandwagon because they didn't want to get locked into a two-year contract with the iPhone 5 right around the corner. Many Verizon customers have sat on the sidelines waiting for the iPhone 5.
The Fall of RIM. RIM is dropping like a rock. The once dominant smartphone provider is in a death spiral, and customers at the end of contracts with BlackBerry smartphones will be looking to jump ship and find an alternative. Some portion of disenfranchised BlackBerry users will migrate to the iPhone 5. Of course, the Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" devices should hit about the same time, and Microsoft's mobile platform may draw more BlackBerry loyalists than Apple.
iOS 5. The upcoming release of the Apple mobile platform--iOS 5--introduces a variety of compelling features. Granted, many of the features introduced in iOS 5 already exist with rival platforms like Android, but the new functionality may attract users to the iPhone 5.
iCloud. Despite perception to the contrary, many iPad owners don't also own an iPhone. iCloud could change that. The automatic and seamless integration between iOS devices and a Mac or PC make a compelling case for using iOS on both the tablet and the smartphone.
There are a wide variety of awesome Android phones, so I don't think Android as a whole needs to be concerned. However, Apple is already the number one smartphone manufacturer in the United States, and if demand meets expectations that gap could grow larger. On a platform level, iOS will probably still lag Android, but on a device level the iPhone 5 may annihilate the competition.