The Apple [AAPL] iPhone queues have begun outside Apple's Fifth Avenue retail store in New York as the company gets ready to end months of speculation when it reveals its iPhone plans tomorrow and the latest leaked images suggest the new phones will indeed carry a fingerprint sensor.
[ABOVE: Quite funny clip taken when queues formed last year.]
Apple's Fall begins
You've got to hand it to Apple.
The company has always managed to build a substantial link with its users, placing it head and shoulders above all other corporations when it comes to that direct, visceral connection. There's few others who can regularly anticipate queues for new products outside its shops, and I have real difficulty remembering any firm that's managed to generate queues for products which haven't even been announced for which there is no definitive ship date.
That connection underlines the popularity of the company offering. People who use these devices love them (or a significant number of them do). They get hooked on product usability and the user interface. They upgrade to the next version as soon as they are able. They stick with Apple.
Apple can't take this loyalty for granted.
It's a loyalty won through years of consecutively released products consumers want to buy. The company has consistently performed in this, and while company critics hope the passing of Steve Jobs has taken Apple's mojo away, the other few thousand talented Cupertino employees hope to prove they have some ideas of their own tomorrow on iPhone release day.
It seems likely the iPhone will be accompanied by the introduction of iOS 7 and -- potentially -- new Apple TV software offering app-based access to new television channels and possibly a few other tempting treats. This weekend has also seen publication of purported product packaging for iPhone, which seemingly suggests the new gadget will indeed host a fingerprint sensor.
Finger on the pulse?
iPhone in Canada has published images claiming to represent the packaging for the iPhone 5S. This shows changes in the logos within iOS and seems to suggest the Home button is now surrounded by a thin silver strip, which that site sees as suggesting the presence of fingerprint recognition in this model. Apple's acquisition of biometrics firm AuthenTec last year means we've been expecting something like this.
The claim may match the conjecture but this isn't the only leak we've seen this weekend. Marketing materials that seem to describe the new iPhone range have also appeared in China, if true they suggest the device will boast:
- a 4-inch 1,136-x-640 display
- Dual core A7 chip
- 8-megapixel rear camera with dual LED flash
- Camera recording at 1,080p at 120fps (Full HD --your children and pets never looked so good).
- Front facing 1.2 megapixel camera
- 250 hours battery life in standby mode (up 10 percent on the existing model).
These claims pretty much equate with what we've been expecting so far, and while critics will likely bemoan the dual-core processor, Apple is in position to refine its operating system for best performance on the processor, a move that delivers benefits in performance and battery life.
We will learn more on the new model iPhone when Apple announces it -- and its lower cost redesigned iPhone 5 "twin" at tomorrow's event. What's at stake is Apple's short-term future in the smartphone sector it did so much to disrupt -- but with smartphone sales stalling across summer it seems pretty clear those New York queues aren't aberrations, they represent a lot of pent up interest on the part of the phone-buying public.
That interest means Apple could sell as many as ten million of the new iPhones in ten days following tomorrow’s introduction, according to Andy Hargreaves at Pacific Crest. And that's even before the company reveals its plans for the Chinese market the following day.
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