Market Overview

iPhone 5 Confirmed for Summer Release?


The May release of Samsung's Galaxy 3 has inspired mountains of speculation that the iPhone 5 will be released in June or July.

This stems from the release of the Galaxy 1, which came shortly after the iPhone 4, and the Galaxy 2, which arrived just before the iPhone 4S. Now many in the media assume that history will repeat itself.

But that may not be the case. "What we're hearing in the supply chain is that it's more likely going to be released in the fall," Sterne Agee analyst Shaw Wu told Benzinga. "We'll see. But when we talk to suppliers, it sounds more like the fall timeframe."

When asked if Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is simply going to wait until the product is ready for release (rather than try and follow Samsung's lead), Wu said that's "generally a better strategy."

"You don't want to release a product when it's not ready," he said. "Many of the other vendors are known to do that. Apple is a little different; they tend to make sure that [the product] is absolutely ready before they release it."

As far as big features are concerned, Wu anticipates two things. "One is the larger screen," he said. "The form factor is going to be a little larger, but not too much larger. And the screen is going to be a little bigger. So that's the biggest change."

"The second is 4G LTE," Wu continued. "Having 4G LTE, in terms of the wireless capability that provides, obviously, is a big boost in wireless performance. That's something a lot of consumers have been asking for, and I think Apple is going to be in a unique position to deliver that with strong battery life."

Wu pointed out that, thus far, the battery life of other 4G phones has been "very poor."

"Again, going back to what we said earlier, Apple only releases a product when it's ready," Wu reminded us. "That's their track record. Other vendors, they don't think the same way. That's what makes Apple different."

The name of the iPhone 5, however, is a little harder to predict. When I asked if Apple would drop the "5" from the next iPhone, just as Apple dropped the "3" from the third-generation iPad, Wu said he didn't know. "That's one thing that's difficult to do checks on, so I have no idea what they're gonna call it," he said.

iPad Success

There has been a cornucopia of mixed reports surrounding the iPad's success at retail, particularly here in the United States. But don't be fooled -- Wu said the device is still in very high demand.

"We raised our numbers about a week ago," Wu told Benzinga. "What we're seeing is very strong demand. Keep in mind that the U.S. market is still an important market for them; it's still the largest market for them. A lot of the growth, frankly, is overseas. So I think that's why some of the folks out there don't see the complete picture. We try to look at everything globally. We're seeing very strong demand for iPad globally."

Wu said that in the U.S. the iPad may not be as strong as it was at the initial launch. "It's probably unrealistic to expect those types of initial spike levels to sustain," Wu explained. "It never does. But we're comfortable with our [iPad] forecast -- we raised it to 12.3 million units, up from 11.5 million units for the quarter. The demand is quite strong."

That said, the device is being impacted by manufacturing constraints. "What's holding it back is [that] they have constraints on the screens," said Wu. "They can't build enough of them."

Foxconn has provided another issue. "[Hours are] getting cut to improve and conform to [better] labor practices. I think that's causing some of the confusion out there. We did a note to kind of clear that up, to let people know that demand is still quite strong, despite all the mixed data points out there."

Follow me @LouisBedigian


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