Apple iPhone 4G / HD Releasing Earlier?

If you follow tech news and trends you know Apple has been forced into a very unusual situation for them. No other company is as secretive and guarded with their products and product announcements as Apple. It was with much amazement and wonder then that a prototype of the next generation iPhone got left in a bar in California and fell straight into infamy. Now with legal troubles hanging over Gizmodo and its owner Nick Denton, reporter Jason Chen, and the person who found the device; some questions remain. The biggest question is: What does Apple do next? According to reports on Yahoo and Cult of Mac, the answer may surprise you.

Gene Munster, Piper Jaffray analyst, sent an e-mail to Cult of Mac on the issue. Piper Jaffray is an international investment and securities firm with expertise in many areas. Piper Jaffray analysts regularly comment on issues surrounding technology as a whole and Apple in particular. In his e-mail to Cult of Mac, Mr. Munster revealed his opinion that the issues around the Gizmodo story would force Apple to publicly release the new iPhone “sooner versus later”. Mr. Munster’s reasoning revolves around a very basic assumption of market economics; people aren’t going to buy last year’s model if they know ahead of time that a newer model is coming soon with the features they want. iPhone 3GS sales will slow, as the line of reasoning goes, and people will stop buying it in anticipation of the new model. If Apple wants to sustain high sales figures, it needs to get the next iPhone in the market as soon as possible; preferably not waiting until the anticipated launch in June.

While Mr. Munster is certainly a respected analyst who is a lot closer to the pulse of the tech industry than I am, I don’t think Apple will feel the need to rush the new iPhone out into public. I think Apple really just wants this whole situation with Gizmodo and the iPhone prototype to go away. Through this whole situation I’ve been reading and listening to John Gruber at the Daring Fireball blog. John is probably one of the three people whose opinion on Apple I respect the most. He thinks for now Apple just wants this story to go away and I’m inclined to agree with him. More than anything, in my opinion not Mr. Gruber’s, I think Apple would rather this all just fell back into the background until late June. On June 22nd Steve can come out on stage and introduce the new iPhone with a relatively clean slate.

The other reason I think Apple won’t rush to release the iPhone is that it simply may not be technically feasible to do so. While many would like to believe what we saw on Gizmodo is the iPhone in final form, let’s face it, it was a prototype. And probably a prototype among many, if not more than a dozen, prototypes that exist. Apple simply may not be ready to release it yet. The feature list may not be finalized and software may still be in development. Say what you will about Apple but they are fastidious about quality. Rushing to market with an unfinished product just to meet expectations or sustain sales is a Microsoft move, not Apple. I just don’t see them trading in this guiding principle to fore go flat iPhone sales for one month.

I will be as surprised as anyone if the next generation iPhone comes out ahead of the assumed June 22nd release date. Is it possible? Of course, anything is possible with Apple. I just don’t see any impetus for Apple to do so. The longer they let this story fade into the background, the better it is in the end for them. As talk shifts from the actual prototype to the legal implications for Gizmodo, people will soon forget it was even a story and turn their attention back to the rumor and speculation that feeds the Apple media machine so well.

Should Apple try to get the new iPhone out sooner rather than later? Do you think Apple will experience a couple of flat months in iPhone sales as people hold off purchasing the iPhone 3GS? Would you hold off knowing what you know now about the new iPhone prototype? Leave us your thoughts in the comments section.

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Erin PetersonApple iPhone 4G / HD Releasing Earlier?
  • Erin Peterson

    I know how you feel. I live in Canada and even when we live beside the United States new technology is always very slow coming here. Personally, I was thinking about getting a 3GS but if the 4G is half as great as the leaked prototype I am inclined to wait. If I was in your position I'd hold on to the HTC until the 4G became available in South Africa unless there was some overwhelming compelling reason to get a 3GS now. The upside of waiting on the new phone is that hopefully by the time the new phone makes its way to South Africa (and Canada) the price will be a bit more reasonable than when it was first released. I hope that helps.

  • Ndumiso

    By the way, SA is meant to be South Africa!

  • Ndumiso

    I'm in SA and had and HTC and been waiting to upgrade to an iPhone in June with anticipation. Since it takes forever for us to actually get the latest technology (always last in line), I was wondering whether it's worth buying the 3GS and upgrading next year. But since the leak, I am more inclined to hold on to my HTC, at least until the June WWDC and decide after that.

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  • brennen

    Youre right…im sure there is small bugs that need to be taken care of first…then we will get a ton of updates…why cant companies get their software done right the first time lol

  • Erin Peterson

    You're absolutely right brennen, I struck out on the date. When I wrote the article this morning the WWDC dates still hadn't been announced. So you're right, the new iPhone will probably be announced somewhere between the 7th and 11th.

    As to your comment about how much of the phone is done, you're right, the feature list is probably pretty concrete at this point. My contention however was that the work to make the features customer ready probably isn't there yet. I come from a programming background and can tell you I spent a lot of late nights putting the finishing touches on code that was being released the next day. I wouldn't be surprised if there are some frantic engineers and coders in Cupertino rushing to get things done.

    Thanks for your comments.

  • Matt

    Well, I am one of those waiting on the new IPhone. My 3G battery was draining in 2 hours with no usage. Got replace battery online, and put it in myself. No phone is completely dead. My fault for being cheap. Anyway, I commondered my wife's Iphone (swap sim & transfer data) and she is using standard cell phone. And dealing with constant bitching of when does she get her Iphone back. No way I am going to get a 3GS with HD/G$ coming out in 2 months? I was waiting even before Gizmodo because I assumed new version in June. But not that it is confirmed, I am for sure waiting.

  • brennen

    Well, first off the WWDC is set for June 7-11 so Erin is already wrong on that front. Expect the new iPhone then. Plus you think that it being so close you Eris guess that the WWDC would be June 22, Apple wouldn't have 90% of what they want already done? Come on, it wouldn't surprise me if they had the next 2 gen iPhones already in the works. What the consumer sees its about 2 years or more behind what they are actually working on

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