Apple's Wildcard

For the most part I try to stay away from Apple speculation: quite simply, I neither know enough about the company’s past and present situation nor do I pay close enough attention to pick up on the subtleties of this practice. Then I read an interesting article speculating about Apple’s Fall hardware announcements, and I decided to give it a try.

From Aaron Souppouris’s article on The Verge, Rumored iPhone ‘5S’ takes shape in leaked images of assembled components:

“According to numerous sources, the iPhone 5S will be released this fall alongside a cheaper plastic iPhone.”

There are two rumors here: that Apple will release the iPhone 5S in the Fall, and that a budget iPhone will come out alongside it. The first is, I think, a no-brainer: since the iPhone 3G and 3GS, Apple has been on a tick-tock cycle in the mobile phone space. After the 3G and the 3GS came the 4 and then the 4S, followed by the 5 just a few short months ago. It seems to follow that the 5S comes next as the logical progression of this process.

Or so it would seem. The wildcard here is Tim Cook’s statement after introducing the Mac Pro: “Can’t innovate, my ass.” All logic seems to point to the 5S as Apple’s next phone; however, what if Tim Cook just really, really wanted to give all the people who wrote stories about innovation being dead at Apple, all the pundits and Apple haters, and maybe Samsung in particular, a big FU and release another major update to their flagship product just six months after its debut? It’s a long shot, I know, but Apple under Tim Cook is a very different Apple than Under Steve Jobs, and Tim Cook’s Apple might just do it.

And then we have the long-rumored “budget iPhone”. First of all, the name itself is a bit of a misnomer: it implies a cheap product, something that Apple just won’t do. For those looking to have an iPhone-like experience without the contract, Apple keeps the iPod Touch alive; for everyone else not keen on purchasing the latest and greatest phone, the iPhone 4 now comes free with a contract. There’s no market for a cheap iPhone: Apple already addresses all those potential use cases with existing products.

However, I have to once again disregard the obviating factors pointing in every direction away from a “budget iPhone” and introduce the wildcard, Tim Cook. As I already said, Apple under Tim Cook is a very different place than when Steve Jobs manned the helm. After all, we have iOS 7 now, a product that we almost assuredly would not have seen for quite some time — if ever — had the decision been left to Steve Jobs and his buddy Scott Forestall. I’m sure between the two of them they could have found some more green felt.

All indications point to an iPhone 5S coming this fall, and that those looking for a “budget iPhone” will once again see disappointment when Tim Cooks walks off the stage without introducing one. But maybe — just maybe — we will get to hear Tim Cook’s “Can’t innovate, my ass” comment again preceding the iPhone 6 announcement and a new, cheaper iPhone. Maybe that will be his “One more thing”.