While much of the tech world is waiting for the emergence of the iPhone 5, even those who aren't specifically planning to buy it, Ovum (News - Alert) suggests the iPhone 5 alone isn't going to be enough for Apple to unseat Google.
Ovum bases this assertion on their new Smart-Vendor Scorecard, and the projections are eye-opening to say the least.
Ovum expects – as does everyone who follows Apple (News - Alert) news with any kind of regularity – that the iPhone 5 will not only have brisk sales, but that it will be the most successful smartphone that Apple has released yet. Given the sales of the previous versions of iPhone (News - Alert), that's mostly a given.
But Ovum suggests that despite the likely success of the iPhone 5, the clock is ticking on the iPhone concept in general.
According to Ovum's projections, what Apple desperately needs is a complete teardown and revamping of the iOS user experience within the next two years. Failure to do so will result in Apple ending up like Nokia (News - Alert) and RIM, with an outdated platform and the need to replace it.
If Apple doesn't get the timing right, according to Ovum, it stands to lose a whole lot of customers.
The leader of Ovum's Devices and Platforms practice, Adam Leach, explained the stakes more closely: “Apple has successfully built the iPhone from a radical new entrant to the must-have smartphone. Whilst the company is still reaping the rewards of the brand equity of the iPhone, consumers are notoriously fickle when it comes to buying handsets. Without the continued innovation which we are accustomed to with Apple, the company risks losing consumer appeal. The iPhone re-defined the smartphone category in 2007 but it can’t rely on past success to guarantee its future or rely on litigation to keep its competitors at bay.”
Some might say here that Ovum is being a bit obtuse in its assessment; after all, the iPhone has been engaged in “continued innovation” since its first release.
Looking at the differences in the iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S – does Siri ring a bell? – is somewhat clear, but the differences between the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5 are much more pronounced. Yes, on a certain level, the differences are somewhat cosmetic, and many of them are the result of augmented hardware specs, but it's still looking like a safe bet that the iPhone 5 will be a different experience from the iPhone 4S.
Still, Ovum has a point. Another couple versions of the iPhone and that feeling of constant innovation may start to wear thin. Ovum's clearly looking toward the future on this one, and though it may take longer than two years for that “same-old-same-old” feeling to kick in, it's certainly a risk that Apple needs to be cognizant of.
The future of the iPhone line looks great in the short term, but to maintain its edge into the future will indeed take a bit more innovation to successfully carry the day.
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Edited by Braden Becker