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.
Or anyway, damn- it, about what's really important in smartphones.
We know so much, in fact, that one blogger boldly proclaimed the iPhone 6 is already a loser. Another urgently urged Apple to rush the iPhone 6 into release to staunch the hemorrhaging of customers who are choosing bigger-screen phones from rivals.
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Others optimistically noted that Chinese assembly plants are getting ready to get ready to be about to start assembling the Next iPhone, or something; and that it will have an "Ultra-Retina" display. Still others found yet another reason to hate the iPhone 5c: it's delaying the iPhone 6 release.
You read it here second.
iPhone 6 is already a failure
This is the kind of article that makes the iOSphere great: you review a product that hasn't been announced yet, about which nothing is known with any certainty, and conclude that it's a lousy product.
And the fact that it probably generates huge page views has nothing to do with it.
The blogpost, "6 Reasons the iPhone 6 Has Already Lost," is by Avram Piltch, LaptopMag's Online Editorial Director, and winner of this week's award for Most Audacious Use of the iPhone 6 in Clickbait Journalism.
Piltch starts by saying Apple fans have been gobbling up rumors of how awesome and magical the iPhone 6 will be. "However, even the hottest rumor mill in tech can't turn this device into a winner," Piltch declares. "Based on everything we know now, the next iPhone will be a year late and a bitcoin short of the competition, doing nothing to slow Apple's descent from smartphone pioneer to high tech has-been."
If that doesn't get your heart-racing, you're probably still using the Nokia 6680 of 10 years ago.
Keep in mind, Piltch is explaining why a phone that hasn't been announced, which is only described in rumors, is a certifiable failure, a loser.
He gives six reasons: weak camera, poor battery life/no removable battery, no NFC, few sharing options, weak keyboard, and limited customization.
We're not going to go through all of these in depth, in part because many others quickly did, which is the other reason why the iOSphere is great: we get to read blogposts like "The worst article about the iPhone 6 has already been written," by TUAW's Mike Wehner.
After running through the deficiencies of Piltch's analysis, Wehner concludes, "So no, none of these reasons seem to be even remotely within the realm of a deal breaker' for the as-of-yet unannounced iPhone 6."
Let's take just one illustrative example: battery life. Piltch's critique of the non-existent iPhone 6's non-existent battery life is based on LaptopMag's own battery test of the iPhone 5s. Wehner's comment on this claim applies to all of Piltch's claims: "I'd like to just remind everyone that of all the things we don't know about the iPhone 6, the battery is a complete and total mystery. Stating you'll be disappointed by the iPhone 6 battery is like saying that riding in a flying saucer is boring. Let me know when you've done it and we'll re-examine the argument."
The life of a mobile battery depends on a whole range of variables, not just the size or capacity of the battery itself. Partly for this reason, tech sites such as AnandTech.com have developed multiple tests that measure battery impact of different phone functions, trying to create a more holistic view of power use. AnandTech's review of the iPhone 5s found that its battery life improved over the iPhone 5 in some areas, and lagged in others. That was true also for the recent iPhone models in comparison to rival smartphones sometimes iPhone ranked high, sometimes lower, sometimes in the middle of the pack.
Apple addresses power demand comprehensively, for example tuning its processor and other components to work as quickly as possible and then drop as quickly as possible to a much lower power state. One can argue that rival smartphones have bigger batteries than the 5s because they're so inefficient in their power use that they need bigger batteries.
As Wehner notes, none of these allegedly striking defects have stopped tens of millions of consumers from buying the iPhone, including a record number, over 50 million, in the Oct-Dec 2013 quarter.
iPhone 6 will be released ASAP because Apple is losing customers
Apple can't wait until September to release the iPhone 6. It must do it soon, like ASAP soon. Otherwise, you know, Apple is doomed.
This refrain surfaced this week in places like Valuewalk, where Aman Jain's blogpost noted that some analysts are still predictably predicting that Apple will wait until September. "However, a report from Forbes by Chuck Jones believes that Apple should come out with the iPhone 6 ASAP," he says.
That makes it sound like Jones is an experienced reporter for Forbes, with legions of fact-checkers, proofreaders and of course even more experienced editors to work and consult with on a path breaking story.
In fact, Jones is a "contributor" to Forbes: he's one of numerous self-motivated bloggers that Forbes allows to post their opinions. As he makes clear at the start of his blogpost, he's also an investor with a position in Apple stock and the founder of Sand Hill Insights, "which provides research of new technologies and their solutions," according to his Twitter profile. He lists his website as sandhillinsights.com but that URL didn't work when The Rollup tried it.
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.
But apart from Jones' dire predictions, there's no real evidence that Apple is, or should be, in a panic about "losing customers" and is rushing to introduce its products sooner than planned.
iPhone 6 production is getting ready to get ready to get started
Taiwan-based Pegatron "is gearing up to start mass-producing the next-generation iPhone," according to Mike Beasley at 9to5Mac.
He, and many others, are basing this on a translation of a Chinese-language post at "The Commercial Times." You can find that post here, which won't do you much good unless you read Chinese. But there is Google Translate, which as always a mixed blessing.
According to The Rollup's copy/paste results with Google, here's the start of the story: "Apple iPhone 6 is expected to show up in the second half, it is understood, and Master ( 4938 ) won the part of the iPhone 6 orders for the expansion of production capacity, and the newly established Master Kunshan "Shi Shuo" is now finishing factory, recruiting staff, is expected to 3rd season starts running."
That qualifies as a "riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma," to quote Winston Churchill but the Main Point is clear, right? Some factory, probably a really big one, is going to pretty soon starts running and crank out the Next iPhone.
"Currently not much is known about the so-called iPhone 6 aside from a few details about its display, which is said to be made of sapphire (possibly at Apple's new Mesa, Ariz., plant) and will be bigger than the current iPhone display," Beasley writes, in a sentence that manages to be both understatement and overstatement at the same time. We know almost nothing about the iPhone 6, including the rumored sapphire glass cover and the rumored display size.
But whatever it will be, according to The Commercial Times, "For the second half of iPhone 6 to prepare for the production, Shi Shuo has begun hiring is expected to recruit thousands of workers will be trained to go to Shanghai Chang-seok, the second quarter is expected to formally put into production in the third quarter volume."
Without knowing more about Apple's supply chain in general and Pegatron's manufacturing for Apple, it's problematic drawing definite conclusions from this sketchy report. At some point, the assembly lines have to start, possibly with an initially low output, and then scale upward to meet Apple's inventory targets for whenever the new phone, or phones, go on sale. Is that a one-quarter process? Or longer?
iPhone 6 delayed because Apple released a cheaper iPhone 5c
One more reason to hate the iPhone 5c.
Apple's announced this week a new version of iPhone 5, with a lower price tag because it has less memory (8GB). Because of that desperate move to shore up a manifestly failed product, Apple has to delay releasing the iPhone 6.
This remarkable interpretation was crafted by, among others, Kristin Dian Mariano, in a blogpost at International Business Times.
The reasoning, if it can be called that, goes like this: Apple was going to release the awesomely magical iPhone 6 in June 2014 at the next Apple Worldwide Developers Conference; but the iPhone 5c has been a "bit of a flop," Mariano says, so the launch of a cheaper 5c model, with 8GB of storage, "will help Apple regain its stance in the market."
But in order for this new model of the iFlop to, um, fail just as effectively as the original, Apple has to delay releasing the iPhone 6.
It's all so obvious.
As we note this week [See "The great 'iPhone 5c is a failure' freakout"], there is no credible evidence whatever that the iPhone 5c is a failure. That little evidence we have, including Tim Cook's widely and wildly misunderstood comments during the January quarterly earnings call, indicate that the 5c is achieving the goals Apple set for it.
iPhone 6 will have Ultra-Retina display with 389 pixels per inch
This is just one of three completely unsupported assertions, contained in separate tweets by Sonny Dickson, a young Australian who has received photos and, at least in the past, parts taken from Apple's supply chain partners. At least some have proven to be authentic when the yearly new iPhone subsequently was released.
Dickson sent four tweets altogether:iPhone 6 will be 0.22 inches thick #JustSayingUltra-Retina screen will be 389 ppi #JustSayingThe new Apple A8 processor will run at 2.6 GHz. #JustSayingAnd finally: These specs could be the real thing #JustSaying
Indeed they could be. But Dickson gave no source, not even a hint of a source, for these claims. There was no companion post at his now-much-slicker Website. Now, it even comes with advertising..
For iClarified.com, which picked up on the Dickson tweets, he is a "reputable source of Apple leaks in the past." For handy comparison, the post notes that "the iPhone 5s is 0.30 inches thick, has a Retina Display with 326 ppi, and an A7 processor that runs at 1.3GHz."
"Sonny has been responsible for a number of component and detail leaks in the past, so people tend to listen when he says he has some inside information," explains iDownloadBlog's Cody Lee.
When you have a rep like that, your inside information speaks for itself.
Dickson's claims are plausible. So are almost any others one could make up. But plausibility only gets us so far. As "Sonny" himself tweeted, these specs could be the real thing.
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