iPhone 5S: Yet Another Worm In Apple?

By Matthew Klickstein , Mar 12, 2013 01:50 PM EDT

Apple may already be having a problem with its iPhone 5S. The reason you might not have even heard about the iPhone 5S, by the way, is that it hasn't been released yet.

And that seems to be the problem.

Apple has gotten used to a certain cadence in its release dates, as noted by iMore. Since the iPhone 3GS-as-in-speed was released in 2009, and the iPhone 4S-as-in-Siri was released in 2011, one could well expect that we'd be seeing the "iPhone 5S-as-in-something" in 2013.

It just makes common sense, what with Apple's clear bi-yearly release schedule to which we've grown accustomed.

Prior to 2011, Apple released a new iPhone in the early summer, every year between 2007 and 2010.

"In 2011 and 2012, Apple released new iPhones in October and September respectively. While that pushed the date from summer to fall, it still kept the iPhone release window within a roughly a 3 month period," iMore says. "It made it predictable."

With consumers figuring out Apple's ostensible release strategy, it's possible we ourselves then led to a slowing of sales prior to when we assumed the next iPhone would be coming out. Essentially, we learned not only when to buy but also when not to buy from Apple.

"Apple also taught competitors how to counter-program the iPhone," iMore says. "Rather than competing for attention with Apple, who continues to dominate the media cycles and best-seller lists during their launch quarter, competitors are waiting until halfway in, when the iPhone is no longer fresh, and yet still not due for a refresh."

This is a valid point, especially considering HTC announced the HTC one in February, Samsung is holding off on its Unpacked 2013 event for the Galaxy S4 in March and BlackBerry is waiting until the spring to launch its BlackBerry Z10. All of these release dates being "far from the long, fall shadow of the iPhone."

"Thanks to Apple's tick-tock product cycle, where a new design is introduced one year, and that design is iteratively updated with new internals the next year, both of those problems — consumer presumption and competitive counter-programming -- become amplified," iMore continues.

The fact that consumers have grown used to (read: bored by) Apple's tendency to release an S update to its phones within a given year is exacerbated by the well-known disappointment the iPhone 5 has been to Apple, with the company even cutting back on supplies due to lack of demand.

"If marketing the iPhone 5 as re-revolutionary was tough, marketing an almost identical-looking iPhone 5S to the same crowd would inevitably be tougher," iMore says.

Apple is also going up against some pretty heady competition this year with everyone looking forward to such innovations as Google's Google Glass and Samsung's Galaxy S4. And both of those companies are blowing up the marketplace with other devices, as well.

On top of all of this, Apple usually can sustain its release interim periods with the kind of high praise it had grown to used to receiving from the media and consumers alike. Lately, that just hasn't been true, particularly with investors growing worried, numbers dropping across the board and Tim Cook himself shrugging his ever-tenser shoulders.

"In this current climate whatever iPhone is fielded this year, no matter how good it might be, Apple may have to work harder than ever before to get even a percentage of the positive coverage they enjoyed in the past," iMore says. "The 'iPhone 5S' problem is the idea that Apple has become predictable coupled with the perception that the next big thing might just come from somewhere else."

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