Two stories about Apple flooded the Web over the weekend, with one image suggesting that the iPhone 5C (presumably where "C" stands for Cheap or China) is about to become reality. Also, one of Apple's leading executives, Bob Mansfield, vanished from the company's executive page.
Playing C Sharp
Yet again, ironically, Apple falls victim to someone using a smartphone in one of its factories to snap an image that could blow the lid of any chance of a big reveal. A bin full of packaging with iPhone 5C stamped on them, suggests we have a name for Apple's budget smartphone. Of course, next door could be a big of Apple 5D, 5E, 5F logos and so on, as the company aims to cover its bases.
While C could well stand for cheap, it could also stand for China, where Apple has the opportunity to sell many millions of devices. In a massive battle with local producers and Samsung, a budget Apple phone could shift enough units to reinvigorate Apple's flattening growth curve.
This and the other recent leaks, paint a pretty broad picture of what Apple is up to, and regardless of the fine detail, it seems rather pointless to continue the wall of silence. If Apple had merely announced the name, at least in an "upcoming revisions" list, or even informally through an iOS update leak, it could have headed off much of this hunt-the-name game.
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The Missing Bob
The next, more curious, episode of the weekend's Apple saga was the vanishing of Bob Mansfield from Apple's roster of executives. The popular executive who helped drive the recent hardware designs was due to retire last year, stayed on thanks to a sizeable benefits package. His vanishing sparked a quick hunt, with Apple now saying he is assigned to "special projects."
With Apple hiring plenty of people for those special projects, and apparently looking at new types and sizes of device, his could be a critical role in refining what Apple produces in the coming quarters. With the iPhone still responsible for so much of Apple's revenue and profit, what can he and the team do to keep it special?
Perhaps his first look will be at Apple TV. With rival Google now staking a claim in the streaming to TV space with Chromecast, perhaps it is time Apple upgraded the tiny device from hobby status to something more grand and ambitious.