Despite the lack of huge queues and choatic scenes, Apple has announced sales of two million units to Chinese customers over the three-day launch period of the iPhone 5. But now all eyes will be on Apple's plans for 2013.
Apple Goes Low-Key for iPhone 5 Launch
After a rather uninspired-looking launch of the iPad mini in China, Apple felt the need to dampen down any suggestions of a slow iPhone 5 launch with a brief press release (about four lines on the actual event). The short queues in China were largely down to Apple's new restrictions in place on buyers to prevent the scalpers grabbing all the stock, and to avoid the crowd trouble seen at previous launches.
The iPhone 5 is available on two carriers, China Unicom and China Telecom, expanding the customer base on the iPhone 4S which launched on 13 January 2012. That launch was temporarily halted after near riots in stores, which is why Apple went to great lengths to curb the huge queues this time around.
Apple announced a similar two-million figure on the first day of the U.S. launch of the iPhone 5 back in September. Apple will push any news it can right now to keep the company's stock price buoyant, as it has dropped from US$ 700 to just above $500 in the months since that U.S. launch.
Looking To 2013
Somewhat distracted by the continuing Maps app fiasco, and Google's recent return to the App Store, Apple will be looking to get back on its strategic track in 2013. Recent stories suggest that Apple's HDTV project is far from being ready to launch, leaving the existing Apple TV dongle to carry the company's hopes in the home TV media arena for much of 2013.
The last Apple TV model was launched in March 2012 for $99, bringing 1080p support, so it is likely due for some sort of functionality upgrade in early 2013. An upgraded Apple TV, while hardly good for margins, is likely to sell far more units than a high-price HDTV set in what is likely to be another rough year for consumers.
It would also expose more users to Apple's iTunes content, and with all the new iTunes stores around the world that will be a boost to Apple's revenues in the coming year. If Apple can create its HDTV dream project in time for a late 3012 launch, expect absolute chaos from TV makers and retailers in the run up to that selling season.
Where Will the iPad and iPhone Go?
Would you bet against seeing an incremental iPhone 5S in the first half of the year, before an iPhone 6 with a major feature and design upgrade later in the year? It is also not hard to imagine a retina-class iPad mini appearing sometime in early 2013, but Apple has little need to upgrade the iPad 4 (unless it can produce a reduced cost, restyled version) because few apps will be making good use of its power, even in late 2013.
Where Apple can really raise the bar in 2013 is with new apps that do use the power of its latest devices in ways that will appeal to the vast majority of users. What those apps are is anyone's guess, but rest assured, Apple will be Q&A-ing the hell out of them before release.
On the Mac front, Apple might be bringing production back to America, but it will be looking to increase sales now that Windows 8 hardware has got off to a less than auspicious start. Also, expect Apple to also boost its enterprise-friendly credentials as RIM makes its return with the BlackBerry 10. With the fight wide open between all players for those huge enterprise budgets, being seen as good for business will be a growing key feature in 2013.