Report claims Apple to stagger launches of 4.7- and 5.5-inch iPhone to avoid competition between models

“Apple’s new 5.5-inch iPhone will come several months later than the new 4.7-inch model in order to avoid competition between the two models, rather than due to poor yield rates at 5.5-inch production lines as being reported, according to sources in the iPhone supply chain,” Cage Chao and Steve Shen report for DigiTimes.

“The different timetables have been set as Apple does not want to repeat the mistake it made in 2013 when it launched the iPhone 5s and iPhone 5c simultaneously, said the sources,” Chao and Shen report.

Chao and Shen report, “Yield rates have not been an issue for the large-size iPhone.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: How would that work, exactly?

A) Apple pretends there’s only one new iPhone, the 4.7-inch model, so they can sell it out before unveiling the 5.5-inch model. If it’s only a couple months later (in order to to make it in time for Christmas), nearly everyone will be pissed off once it appears (deceitful, buyer’s remorse, bad business). If it’s “several months later,” say in March or April, it misses Christmas plus the rumors and leaks of the model have been so strong that everyone knows it has existed for months anyway and nearly everyone will be just as PO’ed.

B) Apple unveils both iPhones upfront in September and makes the 4.7-inch model available nearly immediately and begins taking pre-orders for the 5.5-inch model – thereby not really avoiding competition between the models at all, just creating a pause in the iPhone market while people who want the largest iPhone possible (a significant portion of the market – rough guess: at least 20% of iPhone buyers) wait for the largest iPhone possible.

C) Apple unveils both iPhones upfront, but makes the 5.5-inch model so much more expensive than the 4.7-inch iPhone that it makes a simultaneous unveiling with a delayed pre-order period meaningless to many, who’ll opt for the 4.7-inch model instead. The 5.5-inch iPhone would be the Mac Pro to the 4.7-inch iPhone’s iMac; an aspirational product priced for a small audience. Of course, this would still wreak havoc with iPad mini pricing or iPad mini would, perhaps, begin to cannibalize the 5.5-inch iPhone. Plus, why introduce yet another screen size (fragmentation) if you don’t intend to sell tens of millions of them? Suffice to say: Another messy option for users and Apple.

None of these options seem very palatable. Or realistic. Or smart. None of them delights customers or Apple.

Unless by “several months” DigiTimes means “twelve,” then we’re having trouble seeing how this would play out well for Apple or their iPhone customers.

And, BTW, Apple’s iPhone 5c outsold every Android flagship phone. Some “mistake” that was.

30 Comments

  1. Yeah, I don’t get the logic. I would be tempted to wait and see what the big one looked and felt like before making any decision.

    I don’t see how Apple can realistically not offer both choices at the same time.

    A lot of buyer’s remorse and tooth gnashing will be the outcome.

    1. Yeah – buyer’s remorse – like when they released the iPad 4 so soon after the iPad 3. I’m still angry about that, and am reminded of it everytime I have to use that old cable to charge my iPad 3.

  2. MDN take spot on is great detail.

    If this is a strategy, grade it F for failure.

    People all over the world have been chomping at the bit for a larger iPhone years now while Apple is late to the party.

    Why delay the inevitable? More large screen iPhones, the sooner the better.

    1. Two items stopped me from taking this seriously:

      1. The headline: “REPORT CLAIMS…”
      2. The source: DigiTimes

      If those two items aren’t a red flag, I don’t know what is.

  3. Putting aside DigiTimes’ stellar track record on Apple predictions, it seems a stretch to believe Apple would callously piss off their loyal customer base in some misguided tactic to maximize sales of the new models.

    That said, I really hope Apple doesn’t set up a jumbo-sized model as their premium offering, with features absent in the 4.7″ version. Most potential buyers of Apple’s flagship product aren’t interested in a tablet-sized phone, so relegating the 4.7″ iPhone to second tier status will likely hurt sales and “customer sat.”

    1. I was just about to suggest to look at the source (DigiTimes). You put it nicely (although to make sure everyone understands your sarcasm, you may have wanted to put “stellar” in quotes…).

      This fall is gearing up to be an interesting one, for sure.

    2. I am not interested a 4.7″ phone it’s too small, 5.5″ is a much better size. It is more versatile and better than needing a phone and a small tablet. I believe that is the way things are going and if Apple does not fill this gap in their lineup it will lose sales as a result.

      1. I think you’ve stumbled upon the truth here. The releases will be staggered because the 5.5″ model is not an iPhone. It will be branded under the iPad line (iPad nano?) and launch with the rest of the iPads in October. It’s not some devious plot to boost iPhone 4.7″ sales.

        1. I don’t think an iPad Nano would be the right solution, marketwise. The segment of the market that wants a bigger iPhone is looking for a single device that straddles the fence between the connectivity & portability of a phone, and the larger display of a tablet. There’s nothing magical about carrying around a tiny non-cellular tablet in addition to a phone.

  4. The amount of leaks for the 4.7″ is so much greater than those of the 5.5″, I’m starting to wonder if there will even be a 5.5″. Not that I really put much credence into any of these rumors but the general direction has been pretty indicative in the past. I honestly don’t care about the physical size as long as one version of the next iPhone has 128gb storage. I’m really tired of carrying multiple devices on long-haul travel. I’d love to get down to just an iPad Mini (of movies) and iPhone (for music). I go off the grid frequently so iCloud/iTunes Match is not an option.

    1. @thanxal, I think iCloud Drive & iCloud Photos will dramatically free up storage space on your iPhone. I expect this will have the same effect as iTunes in the Cloud – you will have access to all your photos and videos from any device without having to keep them on the devices.

      1. @freediverx. Yes that’s true and I do intend to migrate from Dropbox to iCloud Drive, but when I travel to no or expensive internet areas I do still need to access those files that I’ve offloaded. My iPad mini is 128gb and it has solved about half of my problem. The other issue is that I hate having multiple iTunes libraries that don’t sync across devices(same with iPhoto). Maybe iOS 8/Yosemite Sam will take care of this. But again, in no-internet land none of this helps if the device can’t fit everything when needed. (These are, of course, very First World problems).

  5. Scenario “A” also wouldn’t work because you can’t wait to announce a product in November expecting to optimize sales for Christmas. Apple’s September product announcements are precisely timed for the holidays.

    1. I remember reports a few months ago stating the price of the iPhone6 will be $100 higher. Assuming that is the increase for the 4.7 model I suspect the price increase will be a bit higher for the 5.5 model.. Another $100?

  6. Bigger iPhone 6, 5.5″ should be actually cheaper then 4.7″ iPhone 6 or have equal prices, because you should pay for miniaturisation. Than we would see how many people really cherish the notion of having a smartphone device with just the right size which caters to the way they wear them and use them and how much really the increase in the screen size is considered as a essential improvement in usability vs. how much overall size increase feels like a big minus in handiness. Right?

    Tim Cook was so determined to went to D Conference to complain over why everybody else make huge screens but not Apple, that this is due to the fact that those firms can’t make smaller devices because they had problems with battery life and assembling and they falsely advertise their bigger devices as simply better because they have bigger screens, completely not taking the form and handiness into consideration. Now, Tim Cook should deliver on that claim. If a larger iPhone 6, 5.5″ will be more expensive than a smaller iPhone 6, 4.7″ than better let it have something worth this price, like an even thinner bezel than the iPhone 6, 4.7″ or much better battery life. Every other feature would simply play down on the classical, smaller iPhone 6, 4.7″ and cause greater cannibalisation proving that the other brands were right, ha! So, what they gonna do, you think?

    1. “Bigger iPhone 6, 5.5″ should be actually cheaper then 4.7″ iPhone 6 or have equal prices, because you should pay for miniaturization”

      I don’t think the smartphone market is at a point where you could charge more for an otherwise identical smaller model, since a significant (and misguided) portion of that market thinks that bigger = better. Additionally, Apple is always looking to maximize margins to keep the Wall Street sharks at bay.

      Take a look at the iPad and iPod product lines and you will not see a precedent for this sort of pricing strategy.

      1. Agreed.. I doubt Apple would want to use too many different parts to make both iPhone6s since that would defeat the purpose of driving the costs down by large single part orders.

    1. No, Apple is right – miniaturization is a pillar of engineering and design. It is what drives a great deal of all innovation, regardless of whether most of it is obvious to the layperson.

      But Cook is a pragmatic businessman and he realizes there’s no upside at this point to charging more for an otherwise identical smaller product given the biased and inaccurate media coverage and the low information consumers that comprise a significant minority of Apple’s addressable market.

  7. If Apple does this, it would be morally indefensible. You are the greatest tech company in the world, and you take away choice from the consumers, what kind of ethics would it be? But in the end it is all about marketing gimmicks.

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