iMore Editor-in-Chief Rene Ritchie has written a worthwhile opinion piece arguing that part of Apple's challenge in maintaining its performance in an increasingly competitive smartphone market is the predictability of its "tick-tock" strategy of a major iPhone release every other year and an 'S' refresh on the years in between.

5-inch_iPhone_mockup_lineup
Ritchie, whose close sources within Apple led him to report the Lightning connector several months before it was released and correctly predict both the iPad mini launch date and the announcement date of the iPhone 5, says this predictability hurts sales and helps competitors.

[Consumers] began to realize when new iPhones would be released. That led to a slowdown in sales for existing iPhone models just prior to the presumed next release. Apple taught people when to buy, and by extension, when not to buy.

Apple also taught competitors how to counter-program the iPhone. It's probably not a coincidence that HTC announced their next-generation Android phone, the HTC one, back in February, or that Samsung is holding their Galaxy S4 event this March.

Apple's approach of maintaining the same external casing and largely unchanged internal components in its 'S' models limits the innovation that can be offered, making consumers far more likely to look around at competitor products in 'S' years, giving competitors a great opportunity to launch major new models.

Ritchie points to the range of rumors circulating around potential new products from Apple, and says that while all are unlikely to be true, "breaking patterns and challenging expectations is just one way to solve that problem".

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

jhead95 Avatar
143 months ago
Same story every year... yet they are the most profitable every year.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rorschach Avatar
143 months ago
Isn't this one of the problems that was supposedly going to be solved by ditching Macworld? Part of the problem with the annual Macworld was that people expected Apple to announce groundbreaking new products every year in January. Pulling out was going to mean Apple could take its time and announce things when they were ready.

Now it seems they've fallen right back into the trap. People expect a new iPad in the spring, a new iPhone in June, new iPods in September, etc.

On the other hand, when they don't stick to a regular schedule you get people complaining that "I didn't expect the new iPad until spring! WTF now my iPad x is totally obsolete 3 months early!"

Seems they can't win no matter what.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Dr McKay Avatar
143 months ago
They can't win, if they break release cycle like they did with the iPad then people on here feel cheated because their latest shiny isn't the latest shiny.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
3N16MA Avatar
143 months ago
Samsung seems to have the same cheap looking plastic casing on their flagship Galaxy line every year. Why is the burden on Apple to top their already impressive designs every year for the simple sake of letting people know they have the newest gear.

The one big aspect of the Galaxy line that drives the average consumer to make a purchase is it's screen size. Apple may or may not address that with a larger iPhone in the future.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
baryon Avatar
143 months ago
I'm glad that Apple at least doesn't innovate just for the sake of surprising people. That's what everyone does, and while people are always hypnotized by new features and want them at all cost, they don't realize that most of these features either don't work well enough, aren't useful or aren't something they need or would use at any point in time.

I like the "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" approach, if you have a great product that works perfectly and does everything that it should (but not all kinds of unnecessary things that may look cool but don't actually do much), then there's not much to innovate. There isn't regularly a need for new ideas, unless you're a bored rich kid.

The expectation of being constantly flooded by new features doesn't come from the need for new features. It comes from boredom and people not knowing what to do with themselves and their money.

Phones are now like computers, and need to keep getting faster to stay where they are, hence the "S" releases. It's necessary because software gets more demanding without boundaries. That leaves 2 years to come up with useful ideas which may then become things that actually make life better.

I'd rather Apple stay focused on making great products than trying to rival others who drown people in new features that most people won't ever use, yet it's the number one cause of them buying the thing in the first place. Just because people are stupid doesn't mean your product should be stupid too.


The world is accelerating and lately you can't buy anything that won't be obsolete and slow in 2-3 years. It's more pronounced with phones than anything, and I don't think making them obsolete even faster is a good idea.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BaldiMac Avatar
143 months ago
Apple's approach of maintaining the same external casing and largely unchanged internal components in its 'S' models limits the innovation that can be offered, making consumers far more likely to look around at competitor products in 'S' years, giving competitors a great opportunity to launch major new models.
I question how the conclusion in bold can be reached based on the 'S' years to date. Sounds good in theory but the 3GS and the 4S both resulted in a dramatic increases in sales.

Increase in sales (and market share) does not equal "consumers far more likely to look around at competitor products."
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
General Apps Messages

Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 am PST by
Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks." Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:Today we are announcing...
samsung galaxy ring

'Apple Ring' Allegedly in Development to Rival Samsung Galaxy Ring

Tuesday February 20, 2024 2:27 am PST by
Apple is speeding up development of a smart ring that can be worn on the finger to track users' health biometrics, claims a new report coming out of Korea. Teaser image of Samsung Galaxy Ring shown at Galaxy Unpacked in January Apple has toyed with the idea of a ring wearable for several years, as indicated by several patents, but with Samsung preparing to bring its own product to market, the ...
volvo s60 drivers apple maps

iOS 17.4 Beta Adds CarPlay Option to Show Upcoming Maneuvers in Instrument Cluster

Tuesday February 20, 2024 10:47 am PST by
The fourth beta of iOS 17.4 that Apple released today adds a new CarPlay feature, according to the notes that Apple provided to developers. In supported CarPlay vehicles, there's now an Apple Maps option to show information about upcoming maneuvers in the instrument cluster. CarPlay users will be able to swap the display type between the main and instrument cluster by tapping on the map...
m3 macbook pro 14 16

Apple Now Selling Refurbished M3 Pro and M3 Max MacBook Pro Models

Monday February 19, 2024 5:04 pm PST by
Apple today began offering refurbished versions of the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pro models with M3 Pro and M3 Max chip options, offering the machines at a discount for the first time since their October 2023 release. The release of M3 Pro and M3 Max models on Apple's refurbished store comes almost two weeks after the entry-level 14-inch M3 MacBook Pro first appeared on the store....
apple wallet drivers license feature

Apple Said iPhone Driver's Licenses Will Expand to These 8 U.S. States

Monday February 12, 2024 7:51 am PST by
In 2021, Apple introduced a feature that lets residents of participating U.S. states add their driver's license or ID to the Wallet app on the iPhone and Apple Watch, providing a convenient and contactless way to display proof of identity or age. Unfortunately, states have been slow to adopt the feature since it was first announced in September 2021, with IDs in the Wallet app only available ...
iPad Pro OLED Feature 2

Apple's Upcoming OLED iPad Pro Models Rumored to Be Much Thinner

Tuesday February 20, 2024 1:39 pm PST by
Apple is planning to update the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineups as soon as March, and the new iPad Pro models will be significantly thinner according to dimensions shared by 9to5Mac. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site claims that the larger version will be more than 1mm thinner. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro measures in at 6.4mm thick, but the new model is said to be 5mm ...