Why the iPhone 5 Could be Apple’s Biggest Launch Yet

on August 23, 2011

Yesterday Techcrunch added more fuel to the reports that the iPhone 5 will indeed be a dual CDMA / GSM world phone.

Making one single device that runs on all the worlds networks makes a great deal of sense. Not only does it streamline Apple’s manufacturing process allowing all their resources to go into building one device, but it also sets them up for what could be their biggest launch yet.

It would be a huge deal to launch the iPhone 5 simultaneously world wide on every major carrier. The strategy itself is simple. Make it possible for every person on the planet to buy an iPhone 5 on the carrier of their choice.

One could make a strong argument, and many have, that the reason other platforms like Android have been gaining is because the iPhone isn’t avaialable on every carrier. This could all change very soon.

And there are two markets of significant interest in this scenario- the US and China.

In the US, if the iPhone is available on all our major carriers, that would mean it would also come to Sprint. If this happens it could have a lot of impact. Sprint sells a lot of Android phones. They also have one of the more aggressive pricing plans for data, voice, text and web. If the iPhone 5 launched on Sprint and it included their aggressive price plan, it would make a very competitive offering.

The timing of this launch is key also. For roughly the last three years the holiday season has been the time of year many people get new cell phones. This is because, for the last few years, new cell phones have made for timely Christmas presents. This means that many consumers are eligible for new phones as a part of their carriers upgrade plan around the fall timeframe. Make it possible for every person on the planet to buy an iPhone 5 on the carrier of their choice.

By launching the iPhone 5 on Sprint, Verizon and AT&T right before or during the holiday shopping season it would probably insure that they could sell more than 80 million iPhone’s this year.

Last year I read an interesting article by Shaun Rein who contributes to Forbes but is the Managing Director of the China Market Research Group. He brings a great deal of insight to the China market and in his article last year on “Why the iPad May Succed in China, where the iPhone hasn’t” he makes an interesting point.

“.. why the iPad is likely to succeed where the iPhone didn’t is that Apple didn’t wait as long to launch it. The iPhone debuted in China more than two years after it hit the U.S. market. This time Apple waited only a few months, long enough for early adopters to travel to the U.S. and Hong Kong to buy an iPad and build buzz but not enough for massive numbers of people to have done so. By the time the iPhone officially launched in China, nearly everyone who wanted one already had one. What sane company would delay selling a key product to the world’s second-largest consumer market, where retail sales continue to grow at 16% to 18% a year?”

When a company delays a product in a certain country, no matter what the reason, it sends the message to that region that you are not the companies highest priority. His point was that by not delaying the iPad launch it helped create even more demand in that country.

By making the iPhone 5 avaible on all carriers world wide at the same time, every market has an opportunity to create their own regional buzz and not be left wanting. What’s more, if in every market the iPhone 5 is available on every carrier then consumers will win because they truly have choice to switch or not to switch carriers to get the iPhone 5. This in turn will force the carriers to provide better services and better prices in order to compete.

I would love to see Apple does this when they launch the iPhone 5. It would send a powerful statement to the technology industry as well as to tall the markets they sell and want to sell products in. This would also level the playing field where in every location on any carrier where you can buy an Android, BlackBerry, and Windows phone you can also buy an iPhone. Let’s give consumers the choice and let’s see what happens.

The bottom line is if Apple launches the iPhone 5 on every major network at the same time it would almost certainly dominate every major market.