Late 2012 Windows Superphones Puts iPhone 5 Release Into Perspective
The prospect of ever unearthing the release schedule for the iPhone is slim to none, thanks to the tight ship that Apple runs at Cupertino. Fortunately for us, other companies are not as disciplined when it comes to protecting their product release schedules.
As you may have read elsewhere, a throng of “Windows Superphones” are due out at the end of 2012, according to a leaked Windows phone “roadmap” that maps out the 2012 schedule. Gizmodo synthesizes the report nicely: “The October roadmap shows us a skeleton of what we can expect from the Tango and Apollo versions of the Windows Phone operating system. By midyear, we’ll see Tango phones for ‘products with the best prices,’ which sounds pretty disappointing even without knowing what those products are. What’s got us a little more excited are the Apollo Windows Phones coming at the end of next year.”
With the exception of the news that a new round of value-priced devices are on their way, we can note an Apple-esque approach to the Windows superphone rollout, with a new operating system — Apollo — to herald their release. Just as iOS 5 preceded the iPhone 4S, so too will Apollo, complete with features akin to that of the iPhone and top-tier Androids. Let’s also not forget that in 2011, Tango got pretty solid reviews. It was only the entrenched battle between Apple and Android, and the anticipation of the iPhone 5, that overshadowed it.
But for as much as Windows superphones are somewhat interesting in the abstract, for the iPhone 5 enthusiast, the interesting news here has to do with how we can orient the possible release schedule of the iPhone around the news of the late-year Windows superphone release.
Currently, the prevailing thought in the tech world is shifting away from a belief in a June release, believing instead that the iPhone 5 will be released in the Fall of 2012. Forbes states it plainly: “Apple will look to maintain its usual one year gap between device launches and not delay it, as it could otherwise risk losing some customers to a fleet of Google’s Android smartphones released on time in the highly competitive market.” However, if we are to believe the Windows roadmap — and I think that it is a reliable report and not a mere rumor — it would suggest to me that the iPhone 5 is much more likely to be released before the 2012 Fall, with June as the most viable option.
Whereas Android smartphones like the Galaxy and Nexus can possibly weather a release date close in proximity to that of the iPhone, Windows phones are way behind in terms of brand recognition and buzz. We’ve already seen how Tango was completely overlooked in 2011 because of the Apple/Droid wars. From a marketing perspective, it would make more sense for Windows superphones to be released months after the release of the iPhone 5, or else risk being swallowed up by the catharsis that the iPhone 5 will most definitely be for the tech community.
Granted, Microsoft doesn’t necessarily have an inside track on when the iPhone 5 will be released in 2012. But their best guess is markedly better than our own, and by putting off the release of their new superphones until Q4 of 2012, they’re betting on the fact that they can avoid being swallowed up by the iPhone 5, and perhaps have a chance of picking up disgruntled would-be iPhone 5 users, should the next iPhone fail to please the masses. It’s a gamble that is worth taking, since Windows-based smartphones are a distant third place in the market.
Will Apollo-Powered Windows “Superphones” Pose a Threat to the iPhone 5?
A postscript to the article: will the next round of Windows smartphones be worth taking a look at? There’s currently a lot of buzz about them in the press, but it’s hard to separate the buzz from reality. After all, the media is clearly using the leaked roadmap story as a hook for drawing in readers during this very slow news time for the iPhone 5.
In reality, imagining that Windows could jump into the fray and offer a smartphone that truly rivals the iPhone 5 is hard to imagine, as the windows-based mobile devices are collectively being lapped by Apple and Android. Forbes has another mocking piece about this notion that the iPhone 5 will be “dethroned” by the new Windows Superphones, saying, “While the “superphone” bullet is worth noting, it is not the confirmation of a revolutionary new product. At best, it indicates that Microsoft wishes to compete with Apple by offering a product that is, well, super. Unlike superheroes, which tend to wear capes and form-fitting attire, Microsoft’s superphone(s) are likely to be sleek and shiny devices that are hyped with an endless stream of silly commercials.”
In other words, the term “superphone” may be little more than wishful thinking for the next Windows phone — just because that term is being bandied about doesn’t mean that the reality will ever live up to those expectations.
For 2012, I don’t think that Apple has to worry at all about a Windows superphone or Android for that matter. At this point, Cupertino is only competing against itself, and they need to make sure that the iPhone 5 lives up to the expectations of their own customers. The pressure is on.