#3: Innovator, Not Follower
Finally, if there’s anything Apple doesn’t want and can’t be afford, it’s to be seen as a follower.
Apple prides itself on innovation.
When forced to concede the point that consumers wanted smaller tablets, Apple intentionally skipped the 7-inch form factor popularized by competitors and released the 7.9-inch iPad Mini — with 35% more display area than those Android tablets. In other words, it didn’t rush into smaller and follow the lead; it innovated and “improved” on the 7-inch tablet experience.
A new iPhone with a 5.5-inch display would let Apple lay claim to innovating by exploiting the size between 5-inch flagship smartphones and 6-inch phablets, clouding the obvious conclusion that it’s following Samsung’s lead. It would be positioned as superior to a phablet, as well as being the biggest mainstream flagship smartphone.
Innovation, not following.
Of course, the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 would be backed up with studies showing AAPL has picked the ideal size for this smaller form factor, too.
By the way, Apple has released two new iPhones before. Last year, Apple released the iPhone 5c and iPhone 5s — but they were superficially different to many smartphone shoppers.
A move to have two new iPhone models that are dramatically different in form factor would be something new in its iPhone business. But Apple currently has a similar size divide in its iPad line-up, so the move isn’t without precedent.
The complication this time around is the possibility that the smaller new iPhone 6 will be released before the larger one because of manufacturing constraints.
That leads to some important questions:
Will people buy a near phablet-sized iPhone 6? Will they buy a new 4.7-inch iPhone 6 if it’s released first? Or will they wait until the 5.5-inch model is also available before making any purchase decision?
After a string of record-breaking launch weekends, a smartphone landscape that’s more competitive than ever and pressure to keep up with a “bigger is better” mobile industry mentality, the iPhone 6 generation will have a lot riding on it when Apple finally makes its launch announcement.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.