If you were hoping for a radically redesigned iPhone 5 to come out really, really soon, you now officially have 35.1 million of your peers to blame.
Apple reported its first quarter earnings Tuesday afternoon, and the numbers were once again Macauley-Culkin-in-Richie-Rich-enormous: $39.1 billion in revenue, accounted for by almost 12 million iPads, 8 million iPods, 4 million Macs, and 2 million aluminum cans with an inscription of an Apple made with a rusty nail (just kidding -- that won't be out until July).
Those are huge numbers, but the biggest number belonged once again to the iPhone, which Apple sold 35.1 million units of. That's more than Wall Street analysts predicted, thanks in part to stronger than expected demand in China, where the iPhone launched in January to rabid, riotous crowds.
A company's financial results generally mean little to those who haven't invested in stock (and if you did -- TIME TO BUY A FLOCK OF MINI-GIRAFFES!). In this case, however, the continued strong demand for the iPhone 4S -- which many, including this columnist, lamented in October was cosmetically unchanged from the iPhone 4 -- would seem to indicate one thing: There's no real reason for Apple to radically redesign the iPhone, nor is there any pressure for Apple to rush out with an updated iPhone.
Over the past few months, there have been some oddly persistent rumors that Apple would release its new iPhone this summer -- specifically in June, at the Worldwide Developer's Conference. Now, if you were Apple -- walk down this imagination alley with me -- and sales of the iPhone 4S were still so astronomically high, especially in emerging markets where the phone was just released months ago: Would you be hurrying to get out a new iPhone in three months?
No, you wouldn't. You would be happy to ride out these strong sales as long as you could. You would be happy to wait until the iPhone's natural life cycle (one year) had run. You would be patient, and let the money shower over your head, and you would laugh, and laugh, and laugh, until the money stopped raining.
In other words, you would be glad to wait until at least the fall to release your sixth-generation iPhone, which, given these numbers, it now seems certain that Apple will do.
(You might also note that Apple's prediction for next quarter, which includes the month of June, is far too low to entail an iPhone launch. Apple expects iPhone sales to decline by about 10 million units in the next quarter, which doesn't sound like an iPhone release is coming.)
Now, about that smartphone redesign. Everyone with a keyboard and a blog with "Mac" in the title thought that Apple would introduce a thinner, taller, wider iPhone 5 last October. That iDevice stayed in the lab, apparently, with Apple instead outing the iPhone 4S, shaped and sized the same as the iPhone 4. Many Apple watchers announced their disappointment by ranting at anyone who would listen on Twitter and Facebook.
Well, the bellyaching back in October may have been loud, but consumers are speaking louder with their wallets: Apple sold a record 39 million iPhones in the last three months of 2011, and another 35 million in the first three months of 2012.
So, you've got 74 million smartphones sold with that "disappointing" 3.5-inch display, and that boxish design, and that all-glass make -- why change what is clearly working in the market? Why reinvent the iWheel? Competitors may be upping the screen size and specs, but Apple is still making Olympic-sized swimming pools full of money from its own diminutive phone.
Why risk upsetting the universe with a smartphone that looks nothing like your ultra-mega-record-setting one?
These terrific sales figures are great news for Apple and its (mini-giraffe-owning) investors, but not such great news for those hoping that a 7-inch, gold-plated iPhone 5 with physical keyboard and miniature unicorn horns would drop in June.
Demand for the iPhone 4S is still soaring months after its release. That means your current iPhone case just might fit the next iPhone, too -- though perhaps you can diamond-plate it, if you went long on AAPL.
Check out the slideshow (below) to see our recent roundup of the last week's juiciest Apple rumors, several of which claim that a completely redesigned iPhone 5 is on the way. Do you think these rumors still hold water, or are you convinced that the next iPhone won't be that different from the iPhone 4S?
A lot of folks are expecting big things from the next iPhone, and this edition of This Week In Apple Rumors will do nothing to minimize your already too-high expectations. Put on your crazy pants: It's time to listen to some Wall Street analyst predictions for the iPhone 5! Let's start with Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray, a noted Apple fanboy/analyst ("fanalyst") who sees the stock hitting $1000 at some point, said in an interview on Bloomberg will be "the mother of all upgrades." That's right: The next iPhone is literally going to birth out of its headphone jack, from the sheer force of its improvements, every other upgrade to anything ever. Munster predicts a new form factor for the iPhone, the addition of 4G LTE, and "lines around shopping malls" when it comes out in October. Prepare for boom time this fall, Orange Julius employees! (Did we mention that Munster -- the guy saying all of this stuff about how amazing the next iPhone is going to be -- is a Wall Street analyst who has said that Apple's stock will rise almost $400? Because that seems like an important footnote to his prediction). For more iPhone chatter (oh, is there ever more!), let us now turn to Terminator 2: Judgment Day.
I think we all remember the mid-90s Nickelodeon fantasy detective drama "The Secret World of Alex Mack," and if a recent rumor is true, the new iPhone will have something in common with the girl sleuth who could transform into chromatic sludge. Okay, that's a stretch, but the next iPhone is rumored to be made not of glass but with something called "liquid metal," an "amorphous metal alloy," which would allow Apple to make a thinner, lighter device. 9to5Mac points out that Apple bought the rights to "Liquidmetal Technologies" in 2010 and has been previously rumored to use the stuff for batteries and SIM cards, but never the phone itself. The rumor, by the way, comes from a Korean site called ETNews.com, which is disappointingly not at all concerned with the latest happenings on the ET: The Extra-Terrestrial front. Really, though, ETNews.com is a tech news site, and not a very reliable one, according to MacRumors; in addition to not being the most trustworthy source, ETNews.com is also a "known distributor of malware," according to my Google Chrome. Liquid Metal rumor is looking solid, you guys! Whether or not Apple uses Liquid Metal on its next iPhone (MOAU edition), it is rumored to be thinner by at least one analyst. Get out the measuring tape!
Ooh la la! iPhone getting skinnier? Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities has a report out claiming that the next iPhone will be 0.44 millimeters thinner than the iPhone 4S, which would make it less than 8 millimeters thick. That would put it on par with some current slim offerings, like the HTC One S (7.8 inches) and the Motorola Droid Razr (7.1 mm). The iPhone 4S measures 9.3 mm, pretty thick compared to other flagship offerings. AppleInsider has a very comprehensive rundown of how Kuo thinks Apple is going to shave off those millimeters, using something called "in-cell touch panel technology." For our purposes, however, all you need to know is this: Kuo sees a skinner iPhone 5 dropping some time in the third quarter of 2012.
It seems like we get more "news" about the supposed iPad Mini -- a cheaper, 7.85-inch version of the popular iPad that would compete with the Kindle Fire -- every week. And like day follows night, analyst Shaw Wu of Sterne Agee is kicking that beehive once again, writing that with the iPad Mini, it's a "question of when, not if" Apple releases one. Before you break your piggy bank open, however, know this: Wu doesn't see it coming any time. As quoted by Apple Insider: "We do not sense that the release of an iPad mini is imminent and quite frankly, exact timing is difficult to predict." In other words, if Apple releases a smaller iPad at any point in the future, Wu wins. All bases covered! (For what it's worth, some analysts have predicted that an iPad Mini could launch as soon as this fall.)
We all think that the MacBook Pro lineup is going to get a refresh this summer, with a thinner form factor and next-generation Intel processors (wait to buy a new laptop if you can!). The latest rumor about that refresh: Apple could stop selling its big mama MacBook Pro, the 17-incher. Here's Ming-Chi Kuo again (he of the Jenny-Craig-ed iPhone 5 prediction) with the report: While adding new products, Apple is likely to stop making the 17" MacBook Pro this year due to falling shipments, in order to maintain a lean product line strategy. "Lean product line"? Man, does this guy ever stop talking about how fat everything is? He seems like a rude friend. Anyway, Kuo thinks that the $2500 17-inch MacBook Pro doesn't sell well enough for Apple to keep making it, so it might be history. If you're in the market for a gigantic Apple laptop, your options may be slimming down soon. "Slimming down soon"? Aw man, now I'm doing it! Damn you, Kuo! That's all for This Week In Apple Rumors. Make sure you join us again next week, with special guest Apple columnist Larisa Oleynik from "The Secret World of Alex Mack" (in my 12-year-old dreams).
Apple fans around the world are eagerly awaiting the release of the sixth-generation iPhone 5.
Follow Jason Gilbert on Twitter: www.twitter.com/gilbertjasono