Reasons why Apple is likely instituting a biannual iPhone update cycle

I think they’re going through a very significant change now in terms of product cycles,” Sculley explains. “Traditionally Apple introduces products once a year; now it’s really introducing products twice a year. The complexity of that from a supply chain is immense, and Apple seems to be doing it well. So, I think that people are underestimating just how well Apple is run, and just how successful the company can be when it gets to that twice-a-year product introduction cycle. – Former Apple CEO John Sculley (via TUAW)

“Suggesting that Apple is moving to a semi-annual cycle is a very provocative thing to say, but it’s something I’ve also speculated is happening during a Critical Path podcast,” Horace Dediu writes for Asymco. “Sculley’s comments prompted me to weigh the possible evidence that this is happening.”

Read more in the full article here.

36 Comments

  1. I don’t believe it. Apple did it for the iPad because they wanted to introduce the iPad mini for the holiday season and put a lightning connector on the Retina iPad, AND (I believe) clear out the previous March/April release “slot” for something completely new. So, going forward iPads will be refreshed in the Fall, which makes sense for a now mature product line.

    I think that “something completely new” is Apple’s TV. It will be “introduced” between January and April, with the actual release a few months later.

    1. Apple will NOT lock into any product cycle unless “It’s the right thing to do.”

      No surprise or shock that all these ANALcysts haven’t got a clue about how Apple does business. They’ve probably all gone to BIZNIZZ skewls where they learned how to do things the WRONG way. Bless you Apple.

  2. The problem is, Samsung comes out with a product with a better specifications list than the 6 month old iPhone and the Fandroids wet their pants and buy, buy, buy.

    Having a 6 month schedule will give Apple a chance to out speck the new Samsung phone right away, not 6 months from now.

    1. Whatever…. iPhones on a 6 month update makes NO sense. When carriers (Lookin’ at you AT&T) are being jerks and holding you hostage to your 2 year contract, with an upgrade only available after 20 months a 6 month refresh cycle would hurt Apple.

      But yeah, fandroidtards can go ahead and wet themselves every 6 months for a new cheap plastic skin.

      1. Great point. I read that T-Mobile is considering an alternative – selling unsubsidized phones upfront and signicantly discounting their monthly rates. If so, it could be a wake up call or the rest of the industry. Going totally blue sky, I would like to see Apple launch its own phone-company alternative and do something similar; imagine a $99 annual iCloud “telco” service that’s available to all owners of a retail iPhone.

        1. As things currently stand, the 2-year contract system incentivizes consumers to regularly upgrade to a new phone. After all, you are going to pay the monthly subsidy whether you upgrade or not.

          If it becomes popular, the T-Mobile approach will likely greatly reduce the churn for new phones. The hundreds of dollars of upfront cost for a new handset will make many people think twice about how much they need an iPhone 7 when their iPhone 5 is still working fine. In my opinion, this is a good thing. The current system is rigged to manipulate consumer behavior in a wasteful way.

    2. new specs don’t mean squat if the fandroidtard OS is still a POS, and it is. And please, don’t even TRY to say specs matter anymore. With the 4s fandroidtards didn’t care that everything on the inside was newer, better, faster. They bitched about “but it still looks the same, its not a real upgrade, nothing changed”

      1. I also find it HILARIOUS that Apple got SLAMMED-&-A-HALF for not coming out with an iPhone 5 with GARGANTUAN new bells and whistles, when in fact these ShameDung POS Hemorrhoid phones have far fewer improvements on their spec list.

        Hey ANALcysts: MAKE – UP – YOUR – MINDS.

        Hey Apple: Carry on as usual!

  3. It is obvious that Apple has to present updated smartphone every half year, because the pattern from 2011 and 2012 is obvious: new model only drives sales for the first half year after release.

    1. And if Apple goes to a new iPhone every six months, then sales will start to slow after three months, because the new model is only three months away. With an annual release, at least the “slow quarter” only happens once per year.

  4. Apple never has and never will run on Samsung’s schedule. While it’s true that Samsung does come out with new phones very often, increasing Apple’s frequency of introducing new iPhones if they are not ready (ahem, Maps, ahem), won’t do them any good. Apple will do it on their own terms independent of anyone else. Just my 2¢ worth..

    1. Samsung also has several different phone models, with different screen sizes, different capabilities, etc. It doesn’t continue producing last year’s model (or older) as Apple does.

      It takes Apple a couple of months just to complete its international rollout and clear out backlogged orders once a new iPhone is released. So based on a semi-annual release schedule, Apple would only have about 3 months of “normal” sales before it is introducing the next iPhone and again experiencing product shortages.

      The final nail in this rumor’s coffin is that Apple would lose substantial free PR by releasing two iPhones/year. It can’t possibly innovate hardware that quickly and maintain quality, and it’s not necessary for people to buy a new iPhone to get the latest OS (unlike with Android/Samsung phones). iPhone release events would become very ho-hum and Apple would lose the excitement which drives iPhone sales.

  5. Might be why apple has cut some orders, to make less of the product making way for cyclical upgrades to keep in inventory. Tim is good with production rankings. Just a thought

      1. I hate English. Merriam-Webster.com says:

        Definition of BIANNUAL
        1: occurring twice a year

        Definition of SEMIANNUAL
        1: occurring every six months or twice a year

        Definition of BIENNIAL
        1: occurring every two years

        BICAMERAL
        1: having, consisting of, or based on two legislative chambers

        Definition of BIFURCATE
        1: to cause to divide into two branches or parts

        Definition of BIKINI
        1a : a woman’s scanty two-piece bathing suit

        Just shoot me.
        Sympathy to everyone whose first language is not English.

    1. You’re a moron, Hans.

      On OS X, simply highlight each of the following words and right-click on them and choose “Look Up in Dictionary.”

      biannual
      semiannual
      biennial
      superciliousness

          1. Or two-finger click on a Magic Trackpad.

            Or a right-click on a two-button mouse.

            Just set it up “secondary click” as desired in System Preferences, depending on what input device you use.

  6. Why should Apple have to try to keep pace with Android devices? It would be a losing battle. There are dozens of companies producing Android smartphones and each company can put the latest tech in some model smartphone. There are new Android smartphones being introduced every couple of weeks. Even an Apple iPhone being introduced every six months can’t match that pace.

    I’d think that as long as carrier contracts last for two years, an annual iPhone replacement should be more than enough. I don’t believe any smartphone goes out of date in less than a year. I think Apple would be foolish to introduce a new iPhone every six months. Apple’s higher production quantities would seem to prohibit such a thing.

      1. Then there’s the fact that almost ALL Android devices are INCAPABLE of updating to the latest version of the Android OS.

        Meanwhile: My iPod Touch 4 started with iOS 4.0 and is now running iOS 6.0.1. AND it will be running iOS 6.1 or whatever.

        Meanwhile: If you want the latest version of Android, you typically need to buy another Android device. Not good.

        Android Fragmentoid Badness.

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