Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Apple's iPhone 5 launch weekend: 8 million units or bust? - ZDNet

Summary: The reviews for Apple's iPhone 5 are glowing and now it's time for those launch weekend guesstimates. Anywhere from 6 million to 10 million units will move between Friday's launch and Monday, one analyst says.

iphone5cnetCredit: CNET

The reviews for iPhone 5 are in and the consensus view is that Apple's flagship device is a must have upgrade. As the iPhone 5 launches on Friday the big question is whether Apple will sell 8 million or more devices launch weekend.

According to CNET, which gave the iPhone high marks along with other reviewers:

The iPhone 5 is the iPhone we've wanted since 2010, adding long-overdue upgrades like a larger screen and faster 4G LTE in a razor-sharp new design. This is the iPhone, rebooted.

Fair enough. Now let's translate those glowing reviews into real units and dollars.

More: iPhone 5 16GB costs an estimated $207 to build | 5 reasons I'm passing on the iPhone 5 | First round of iPhone 5 reviews hit the Web | All iPhone coverage | A unique upgrade cycle

Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster---among the biggest Apple bulls on Wall Street---said in a research note:

We believe that the reported 2 million iPhone 5 pre-order unit number suggests that Apple could sell 6-10 million phones in the launch weekend. We believe Apple will issue a press release on Monday September 24th about launch weekend sales. The mid-point of our weekend sales total would suggest 100% y/y growth from the iPhone 4S launch. We note that iPhone 4S grew 135% y/y in its launch weekend compared to the iPhone 4. We believe that some investors may have slight concerns regarding Apple's ability to sell 6-10 million phones in the launch weekend given the suggested phone sales per hour at retail given the numbers. While we acknowledge the concern, we remain confident that between continued online pre-orders and expanded retail and country distribution, Apple will be able to deliver on the 6-10 million unit weekend sales expectation.

Take the midpoint of Munster's projections and you get to 8 million units. Munster's "worst case launch figure" is 6 million.


The wild card here will be supply. Apple's supply chain hums, but shortages are likely.

Barclays analyst Ben Reitzes said:

Apple introduced the new iPhone 5 and we were impressed with the pace of the rollout given concerns around production shortages. Apple aims to distribute the iPhone 5 through 240 carriers worldwide by year-end, making it the fastest iPhone launch yet. Our iPhone unit estimates for the September quarter are unchanged at 23.43 million in case Apple faces product stock outs. However, we estimate iPhone unit sales will surge to 45.21 million, up 22.0% y/y and 93% q/q in the December quarter (F1Q13). We believe production plans call for about 50 million iPhone 5 units alone in the December quarter, not including older models and expect strong sales to continue through the New Year. The main driver of iPhone sales momentum into mid-calendar 2013 could be China, where Apple needs to strike a deal with China Mobile for the first time.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Initial iPhone 5 reviews arrive: Critics praise new screen - CNET

The first crop of iPhone 5 reviews has hit the Web. Reviewers like the larger screen and faster wireless networking.

(Credit: Sarah Tew/CNET)

Less than a week since its debut, some of the initial reviews for Apple's next iPhone have hit the Web.

The consensus is mostly positive, with reviewers praising the larger screen, faster LTE cellular networking and iOS 6 software features. Less hot, it seems, is Apple's new maps application and Lightning connector technology. Critics say the maps app is impressive, but not as full-featured as Google's, and that the new Lightning connector is nice, but a move that requires an investment in new cables and adapters.

CNET's own senior editor Scott Stein rated the iPhone 5 four out of five stars, awarding it the editor's choice.

"The bottom line is, we said last year that the two big missing parts of the iPhone were 4G LTE and a larger screen. The iPhone 5 has them, plus a new processor, plus a new design, plus iOS 6, plus a lot more. It's the best iPhone that's been made," Stein wrote.

You can read CNET's entire review right here.

Some of the highlights from the other reviews around the Web tonight:

David Pogue for The New York Times says:

If you have an iPhone 4S, getting an iPhone 5 would mean breaking your two-year carrier contract and paying a painful penalty; maybe not worth it for the 5's collection of nips and tucks. But if you've had the discipline to sit out a couple of iPhone generations -- wow, are you in for a treat.

Pogue adds that the one downside is the switch to Lightning, Apple's new connector technology, which replaces the 30-pin adapter.

Ed Baig for USA Today says:

People have always had lofty expectations for the iPhone 5, especially as the competition stiffens. In delivering a fast, attractive, LTE-capable and larger-screen handset, Apple has met those expectations with a gem.

Walt Mossberg, writing for All Things Digital says:

Apple has taken an already great product and made it better, overall. Consumers who prefer huge screens or certain marginal features have plenty of other choices, but the iPhone 5 is an excellent choice.

Hands-on with the sharp, slim iPhone 5 (pictures)

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Tim Stevens writing for Engadget says:

The iPhone 5 is here -- or will be soon, anyway -- and it's every bit the device that people were asking for when the iPhone 4S came out. Its new design has less mass yet leaves room for a larger display and LTE wireless, all while increasing battery life. In nearly every respect, this is an upgrade over the 4S that came before, though it arrives almost a year later than many had hoped.

MG Siegler at TechCrunch says:

Those worried about the talk of "disappointment" surrounding the iPhone 5, I suggest you simply go to an Apple Store starting on Friday and try it for yourself. My guess is you'll immediately recognize just how ridiculous that bluster actually is. This is the smartphone nearly perfected.

Jim Dalrymple at The Loop says:

My experience with the iPhone 5, iOS and the EarPods has been great. The iPhone is everything Apple said it would be and with iOS 6 built-in, it's clear to me that Apple has another winner on its hands.

I can't think of any good reason why anyone wouldn't upgrade or purchase the iPhone 5.

Vincent Nguyen writing for Slashgear says:

Competition between mobile platforms keeps the industry moving and innovating. That can often present itself as a surfeit of innovation: feature upon feature, piled high in an all-singing, all-dancing device. Right now, the iPhone 5 has the best balance of everyday usability and performance, without the distraction of functionality that is clever but unintuitive. It's an area in which Apple excels, and it's the reason the iPhone 5 is one of the best smartphones on the market today.

Rich Jaroslovsky writing for Bloomberg says:

Arriving in Apple (AAPL) stores Sept. 21, the new model lacks any single gee-whiz breakthrough, like the Siri voice assistant introduced with the iPhone 4S. But the new version brings it up- to-date in a host of areas, particularly speed, without sacrificing the things that made it special in the first place.

The iPhone 5 goes on sale this Friday at 8 a.m. local time, an event that is preceded by the release of iOS 6 at some point tomorrow.

Updated at 6:33 p.m. PT with additional review snippets.

More to come...

Ten Best Free iPhone Sports Apps - Yahoo! Sports

Unless you have special cable or satellite subscription packages, it is difficult to keep track of every game and team that matters to you on gameday. The good news is that you can get around this problem by downloading free sports apps for your iPhone to keep tabs on all the latest action.

Check out these 10 free apps to get your sports fix:

NFL '12: NFL fans will love this official NFL iPhone app. You can customize the content to get all the latest information on your favorite team. This includes any highlights or analysis relevant to your fantasy football team. It mirrors by feeding you a heavy dose of live score updates, the latest news, stats and scores, and video highlights from every game. At Bat: You get all sorts of baseball scores and stats with the official Major League Baseball iPhone app. It delivers the latest news, videos, and scores. You can also access updated standings, schedules, team rosters, and player statistics. One of the best features is the app can be customized to update you specifically on your team of choice.

[Check out the Yahoo! Sportacular iPhone app]

NBA Game Time: The official NBA iPhone app offers a little bit of everything. During live games, you can get updated stats, game notes, and scores. The app also presents the latest scores, stats, and highlights for each game. One highlight NBA fans will enjoy is a video room that offers game recaps, top plays, and featured content from NBA TV.

NHL GameCenter: Hockey fans can't live without this iPhone app. It has all the things related to NHL action. This includes real-time scores, stats, standings, and news. Like other major-league apps, you can customize it to focus on your favorite NHL team to get quick access to relevant information.

MLS Matchday: If soccer is your sport, this is the iPhone app for you. It provides real-time scoring and detailed play-by-play breakdowns for every MLS game. The best feature is that it includes many items normally available in only paid sports apps, such as video of top plays and complete highlights of each MLS match.

ESPN ScoreCenter: The worldwide leader in sports covers it all with this iPhone app. You get scores and stats from all major games in all major sports. It is useful on days where you are trying to follow your favorite MLB teams while keeping tabs on college football. Sports fans will appreciate having complete access to game analysis, highlight videos, and the latest news.

NBC Sports Live Extra: This iPhone app lets NBC viewers go beyond what they see on TV. You can watch live NFL Sunday night football games. You can also enjoy full game replays or browse highlight videos from other games featured on NBC or the NBC Sports Network. It originated from the network's official 2012 London Olympics app.

ScoreMobile: This iPhone app offers a virtual encyclopedia of scores. You can get live scores and stats for every major sport out there. ScoreMobile covers NFL, NBA, MLB, and college games. It also offers scores, stats, highlights from pro tennis, pro golf, and NASCAR. All of it equals nirvana for a sports junkie.

Sports Illustrated Front Row: Go in-depth with the official SI iPhone app. The feature that sets this app apart from the crowd is the amazing photos from key games. The images tell a complete story and nicely compliment the scores, stats, and player and team profiles that you can also access from Front Row.

USA Today: You can get quality content from the nation's largest newspaper with this iPhone app. It offers all the latest headlines and breaking news from the sports world. You can also obtain live scores and updates from all of the major sports. Navigation is simple and makes the app a great resource on gameday.

John Coon has covered sports for several major newspapers and wire services since 2004.

Apple takes orders for 2 million iPhone 5s; shares hit $700 [Los Angeles Times] - Businessweek

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iPhone 5′s Lack of 'Wow' Factor Levels The Smartphone Playing Field - NASDAQ

Apple ( AAPL ) announced the much awaited launch of the iPhone 5 at a media event Wednesday, confirming most design and specification related rumors that had circulated the web prior to the launch. The next-generation iPhone features a redesigned new look, sporting a larger 4-inch retina display and a form factor that is slimmer and lighter than the previous version, the iPhone 4S. On the inside, the phone has received some well-anticipated upgrades in the form of a faster A6 processor and a baseband chipset that supports 4G LTE speeds, as most had hoped for. The new phone will be available for pre-order starting September 14th and go on sale from September 21 onward.

While the event may not have shed any positive surprise in terms of a new feature or an unexpected design change, with the media event proving to be a dampener of sorts for many, we see this having little near-term impact on iPhone sales which may in fact receive a boost from the pent-up demand going into the holiday season. Morever, this is probably an indicator that the smartphone industry has reached a stage where little in terms of a revolution is possible, while immense scope still remains for incremental evolution of existing features. However, with the basic smartphone paradigm set, Apple will probably need to work harder in the coming years to differentiate itself from rivals such as Samsung, whose Galaxy S III is seeing strong demand, and Microsoft, which is making a reinvigorated assault on the mobile industry with its new Windows Phone 8 OS.

See our complete analysis of Apple here

Competition heating up but emerging markets key

Samsung, for one, has gained a lot of smartphone market share recently. Last quarter saw Samsung take a decisive lead in the smartphone market, selling almost twice as many smartphones as Apple. As a result, its market share doubled to more than 36% in Q2 2011 from about 18% during the same period last year. While most of its market share gains have come at the expense of struggling rivals such as Nokia and RIM, and as a result of the number of low-end Android smartphones it has flooded the markets with, Apple will be wary of the recent success that Samsung's Galaxy S III has enjoyed at the top-end of the market. Samsung announced recently that it has sold more than 20 million units of the flagship phone in about 100 days since launch. (see Samsung's Galaxy S III Success Ups The Ante For iPhone 5 )

Microsoft, on the other hand, has a lot of catching up to do but it has an able partner in Nokia. The tech giants, who are collaborating to create a third ecosystem of mobile devices alongside Google and Apple, may have failed to create much buzz with their recent announcement of Lumia WP8 phones. But some innovative features that made their way into Lumia such as wireless charging and the novel Pureview imaging technology could help differentiate the WP8 smartphones from the iPhone and most Android devices. These combined with the intense marketing that will follow the Windows 8 launch could help WP8 devices emerge as a serious contender in the smartphone market. (see Nokia Announces Lumia WP8; Likely To Wait For Windows 8 Launch Before Shipping )

With competition heating up and the difference between the iPhone and rivals gradually diminishing, Apple will look to the largely unexplored emerging markets to keep the upside potential intact. China, for example, holds a lot of promise for Apple considering the huge 2G subscriber base that the carriers there are trying to transition to 3G (3G penetration is currently only about 18% in China and growing at a good rate). A deal with China Mobile, the largest carrier in the world by subscriber base, looks likely now that it seems Apple has used Qualcomm's MDM9615 chipset for LTE, which incidentally also has TD-SCDMA support. This could instantly double iPhone's addressable market in China and act as the next big boost to its stock, considering that the iPhone accounts for more than 55% of the company's value by our estimates. (see China Mobile In Talks To Offer The iPhone; Can Alone Take Apple Past $800)

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Study: Broken iPhones cost Americans about $6B in repairs [The Record ... - Businessweek

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Wireless Innovation Slows, And That's A Good Thing - InformationWeek

iPhone 5's 10 Best Features

iPhone 5's 10 Best Features

(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Last year's announcement of the iPhone 4S was viewed by almost everyone as a disappointment. It was pretty much a warmed-over iPhone 4 with the clever but not overly useful Siri voice command system and a few other minor improvements. No LTE. Same screen. I described it as a rare swing-and-a-miss from what is otherwise the best marketing organization on the planet. Of course, Apple sold zillions of them. The rollout might have been disappointing, but the outcome was never in doubt.

Apple has now made another incremental hop ("leap," I believe, would go much too far here) with the iPhone 5, which does indeed have a larger screen, better battery life, a faster processor, and, most importantly LTE, which I'll return to shortly. And yet, if you look closely, we still see only relatively minor incremental enhancements over the 4S. Really, is the iPhone 5 something to get wait-all-night-for-one excited about? And so to the key question for today: are the days of radical improvements, enhancements, and innovation in wireless and mobile technologies behind us? Well, no, not as such--but the rate of innovation is slowing, and--this is indeed surprising--that's truly a good thing.

Wait a minute there, I can here you saying--this is an industry that has practically been defined by weekly (or so it seems) leaps (and not mere hops) in capability, be that in throughput, price/performance, packaging and industrial design, software (both systems and applications), management, and much, much more. Is it really time to close the patent office here? Can it be that the handsets, wireless LANs, and wireless networks of today will pretty much remain as they are from this point forward?

Well, no, I'd never argue that innovation is dead, but it is slowing. Case in point number one, as already noted, is iPhone 5. There's not much new here--it represents a nice upgrade for current users whose wireless contracts are up for renewal, and that's about it. As is the case with a minor change in your eyeglass prescription, there's no urgent reason beyond, perhaps, the need to make a fashion statement, to run out and buy a new pair. Apple will regardless sell zillions of these, too.

[ Innovation is alive. Take a look at 20 Great Ideas To Steal In 2012. ]

And, to be fair, what else might they have done with this product? Customers love the iPhone, and there's really nothing here to dislike. Even the new connector has an adapter for old accessories. But there's no radical innovation, and no departure from what we think of as a contemporary smartphone. After all, remember the original iPhone? Hot debate, and far from universal accolades. Bottom line: radical and new lead to questions. Slow and steady lead to orders.

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And what about LTE 4G? I'm convinced that Apple held off on LTE this long (remember, there are lots of other LTE handsets on the market today) because the carriers simply were not ready--and, gulp, might still not be ready--for the onslaught of demand that an LTE-based iPhone is sure to generate. But we've had another year of network buildout since the 4S, and the situation today is likely to be at least manageable.

Still, LTE is going to get drowned in demand. The shift to metered data will mitigate this some degree (that's why we got it in the first place, after all), but the only real hope for the near term is workable Wi-Fi offload. Why? Because the follow-on to LTE, LTE Advanced, is many, many years off, primarily for economic but also for logistical reasons. More spectrum? Maybe, but, again, such is not imminent.

And let's shift over to Wi-Fi. I've been running tests on the first pre-standard three-stream 802.11ac products, and I'm seeing essentially double the performance of three-stream 802.11n-based products--approaching, no kidding, 500 Mbps. That's amazing by any standard, but what's next after that?

While I expect some power users will see multi-gigabit Layer-7 performance from products based on 802.11ad, and possibly some advanced 802.11ac systems (the .11ac standard approaches 7 Gbps in a full-blown implementation), most of us will be very content with that 500 Mbps or so and will have little incentive to upgrade beyond that for quite some time, if ever.

So--why is all of this good news? Because IT managers--and, to a great degree, even consumers--will now be able to plan operations and purchases more rationally, without fear of obsolescence before full depreciation occurs. We will have sufficiency--enough in terms of handsets, wide-area wireless services (assuming, again, Wi-Fi offload where possible), and wireless LANs, to do essentially anything we need to do, and to do so cost-effectively and with the reliability and management essential to success. So, then, a slowing rate of innovation may not be good for us in the analyst community, but it's terrific for customers and real users everywhere. Expect explosive growth across all of these domains over the next few years--there's no longer any reason to wait for what's next.

And the iPhone 6? Trust me, it'll be really, really boring.

Craig Mathias is a Principal with Farpoint Group, a wireless and mobile advisory firm based in Ashland, MA. Craig is an internationally recognized expert on wireless communications and mobile computing technologies. He is a well-known industry analyst and frequent speaker at industry conferences and trade shows.

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