Speculation and Predictions Regarding iPhone 5S and 5C

With Apple all but confirmed to be holding a media event September 10 to announce the next generation of iPhone(s), I found myself considering the logical sequence of events during the upcoming presentation. Naturally, my curiosity continued forward and led to a few thoughts about how long the iPhone 5C could stay on the market and a few ideas about Apple's evolving product naming scheme. I'll start with a presumptive set of expectations for the top of the keynote next month.

Warming Up

Apple CEO Tim Cook will graciously thank the crowd for attending his big event and run an upbeat video of the company's latest Apple Store grand opening, probably it's new Italian venue which opened earlier this month, with whatever catchy song they see hip for the occasion. We'll see a handful of data-heavy slides reminding us how far the App Store has come in five years and sit through an abridged edition of Software Engineering SVP Craig Federighi's presentation of iOS 7 and its tent pole features like AirDrop, Control Center, and Multitasking.

Maybe Design SVP Jony Ive will take the stage to discuss his work on iOS 7's user-interface overhaul this time around. Running the same introduction video won't have the same effect again; a candid presentation would offer an enormous level of sentimental value and presence that the audience would greatly appreciate.

Which Comes First? 

I'm most curious about Worldwide Marketing SVP Phil Schiller's presentation of the rumored flagship iPhone 5S and budget iPhone 5C.

My first guess is Schiller will maintain the status quo and first introduce iPhone 5S as it's a no-brainer at an iPhone-centric Apple event (Schiller presented the iPad 4 before revealing the highly anticipated iPad mini last November), then sell the crowd on why an iPhone with a dramatically different style deserves to co-exist with the 5S before presenting the iPhone 5C.

After the first year, I assume Apple will present the less powerful iPhone before revealing the state-of-the-art flagship model. Save the most impressive for the device for last, just not this year as the 5C is a new approach within a category. 

iPhone 5C's Life Span

But does it make sense to update the iPhone 5C each time the flagship iPhone receives an update? The fourth generation iPod touch remained unchanged, save for white joining the lineup, for two years, and I wouldn't be surprised if the fifth generation iPod touch hung around another year. The C model iPhone could probably ride the same wave.

Regardless, the budget iPhone and the legacy iPhone seem destined to tick and tock at opposite years unless the budget iPhone has a fate like the original iPhone (and iPad, really) and starts its tick-tock interation after the second generation.

iPhone S and iPhone C

And what about that name? It's certainly not confirmed until someone from Apple announces it on stage, but let's assume iPhone 5C is the budget iPhone's proper name. Let's also assume the next flagship iPhones will be called the iPhone 5S, iPhone 6, and iPhone 6S.

Apple could call next year's budget iPhone the iPhone 6C, but what about the C model during the iPhone 6S phase? iPhone 6CS? It gets complicated fast.

The solution to the naming problem exists: change or abandon the naming conventions. Apple changed its habits when naming OS X 10.9 Mavericks after California's infamous surf spot following years of Lions, Leopards, and other cat names for the Macintosh's operating system. It abandoned the pattern when naming the iPad 2's successor (iPad, iPad 2, iPad, iPad) "the new iPad" and "iPad with Retina display," although we still say iPad 3 and iPad 4 as if its their official names because it makes sense.

I think iPhone S and iPhone C make fine names without the baggage of confusing naming conventions and connotation of quality. No numbers, just models, like cars, something Eddy Cue knows a thing or two about. 

We Shall See

I'll be anxious watching Apple's September 10th event to see which comes first, the iPhone 5S or 5C, but I'll be more interested in following the iPhone 5C's demand over the next year looking for evidence that if can afford to exist unchanged for two years. And here's to hoping Apple adopts the iPhone S and iPhone C naming standard, but I'm certainly not holding my breath.

[Bonus Speculation]

While I'm speculating further than my imagination should allow, why not share a small thought on the champagne, or gold, anodized iPhone. We have an extremely limited set of expectations for the iWatch at this point, and we especially have no clue what an iWatch design could be, but wouldn't a champagne colored iWatch be classy? (Champagne may prove a more appropriate color for a watch than a phone. We'll see.)

Slate, silver, and champagne, which Apple could be testing with its flagship iPhone this year, make up a nice set of iWatches.

Update: Retrospective Look

  • A video about iTunes Festival kicked off the event. This makes sense as September is typically when Apple shows off new iPods and new versions of iTunes, both of which saw no updates this year. (This video featured "Applause" by Lady Gaga according to Shazam's tagging.)
  • Stanford's new Apple Store was featured in the next section of the keynote, not Le Befane in Italy as I had guessed. This makes sense as the Stanford location is exceptionally gorgeous and focuses the attention back to the US as Apple has been doing lately while showcasing Apple's commitment to relaunch smaller stores.  Tim Cook showed off photos during this section rather than running another video. Somewhat more fresh.
  • Apple anticipates shipping its 700 millionth iOS device in October. There's the data.
  • Craig Federighi ran through iOS 7 again, but showed off new Tones and Alerts that later shipped with the GM later that day. Jony Ive remained in the audience again. No real surprise there. 
  • I was wrong. Schiller announced the iPhone 5C, ahem, 5c before the iPhone 5s (no idea why the case changed and this makes no sense to me considering the 4S which also became 4s). In retrospect, it made for a much better presentation. The iPhone 5c looks cool and created a better contrast for the different prices in the two models than iPhone 5 and iPhone 5S could have achieved, but following the iPhone 5s presentation it would have seemed less noteworthy.
  • I still think the iPhone 5c will be updated as a two year product while the 5s keeps the annual schedule. My naming recommendation also still feels good, but I doubt Apple will come across the same logic and use it.

 

 

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