About that iPhone 3G “in 60 days” thing
Published: Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Nuance is an extremely important, but under-appreciated element of communication; our soundbite-heavy culture prefers quick, simple, and conclusive explanations rather than ones that demand thought or raise ambiguities. When is the next iPhone coming? “In sixty days” is the answer people want to hear—it gives everyone a chance to mark their calendars or set their countdown widgets with some degree of certainty. Last week, the Wall Street Journal’s Walt Mossberg obliged them, stating casually on video that the iPhone would go 3G within that timeframe. There was a rush to report the statement as fact, under the assumption that it wouldn’t have been said without certainty. But today, he retracted the statement, explaining that his number was just a ballpark estimate based on speculation.
As much as we like Mr. Mossberg, you might note that we didn’t post anything in our news section regarding his initial quote or the followup. The reason? Nuance. We’ve heard the same buzz about the next-generation iPhone that he has, but there was a subtle difference between what we heard and what people have been claiming over the last few days: “in 60 days” would mean that the 3G iPhone would be on the market by June 5 or sooner, but we’ve heard that the actual launch timeline is looser than that, such that Apple wasn’t making more than a two-month commitment to current-generation iPhone products as of mid-March.
Nuanced? Yup. What that wordy phrase means is that, come mid-May, all bets are off regarding whether Apple will be pushing the current-generation iPhone or a sequel. An announcement could come then. Or at WWDC in early June. Or July. Or August. As with all things Apple, a number of loose ends have to be tied up, and if they take a while longer to resolve, them’s the breaks. On a month to month basis, the company will continue to make decisions about manufacturing, selling, and promoting current-generation iPhones, and you won’t see the company telling people to stop buying today’s model until the next one is ready to order. That’s just not the way Apple does things. The only time the company pre-announces a product hugely in advance of release is when it doesn’t have something else to sell in the meantime—or when it miscalculates the actual release date because of engineering or manufacturing delays, as with Leopard, Apple TV, and so on.
So what accounts for the recent 8GB and 16GB iPhone shortages in stores? The answer is most certainly miscalculation, and probably the good type rather than the bad. As we saw with the iPod mini years ago, sometimes demand grossly and unexpectedly exceeds supply—with Apple products, this tends to happen with brand new releases rather than years-old products. Apple has spent the last decade making conservative decisions regarding manufacturing of new products so as to avoid the inventory buildups that plagued the company in the early 1990s, and with the current iPhone still in its first year of sales, it’s not a shock that the supply/demand balance will sometimes be off. This is especially true when the company has to decide whether to make more units of a product it’s about to discontinue.
Right now, the supply/demand balance is off in the other direction in Europe: the supply has exceeded demand, enough that T-Mobile is now offering €99 subsidized iPhones in Germany to entice customers to buy in. The catch: you have to sign up for a 24-month contract—quite a long time to be bound to the current-generation iPhone, right?—and the deal expires June 30, the day after iPhone’s first anniversary. Coincidence? Just wait and see.
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.
- Cook: New products ‘closer,’ mobile payments ‘really interesting’
- Prong debuts Prong PWR Case for iPhone 5/5s
- Notes from Apple’s Q2 2014 earnings call
- Apple announces 7:1 stock split, increased share buyback, dividends
- Apple Q2 2014: 43.7M iPhones, 16.3M iPads, 2.7M iPods
- Former employee says Apple left iOS users vulnerable
- Siri coming to Apple TV?
- Google covering some Samsung defense costs in Apple case
- Changes introduced to Apple’s app content rating system
- iOS 7.1.1 makes in-app purchases clear in Top Grossing chart
- Ele eleMount
- Divoom Voombox Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- Pelican ProGear Voyager for iPhone 5/5s
- ZeroChroma Vario-Edge for iPhone 5/5c/5s + Vortex for iPhone 5c
- JBL Synchros S300i Stereo Headphones
- AKG K845BT Over-Ear Bluetooth Headset
- JBL Voyager Home Audio System With Portable Wireless Speaker
- Harman Kardon Esquire Executive Portable Wireless Speaker
- Booq Booqpad for iPad Air
- Rokform Fuzion+ for iPhone 5/5s
- The Complete Guide to Apple TV Channels
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad, 2001 to 2010
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad: 2011 to Today
- Viewing only downloaded iTunes Match tracks
- Splitting purchased content between two iPads
- iLounge’s 2014 CES Best of Show Awards: iPad, iPhone, iPod + Mac
- Preview: 7 Big Apple Trends To Expect At The 2014 CES
- Non-Bluetooth Lightning dock speakers
- Shared Apple ID and switching away from iPhone
- Syncing multiple iCloud data with a family Mac