No iPhone 5 at WWDC 2011

The Loop:

Apple’s apparent focus on software in its WWDC announcement backs up what my own sources are saying about the annual conference. That is, expect a software show in 2011, not a hardware event.

I was expecting the next iPhone to be announced in the middle of this year. So were many others. I wasn’t expecting a completely revamped iPhone 5. Instead I’ve written that it would most likely be a speed bump incorporating Apple’s new A5 chip into the same industrial design with the name iPhone 4S.

But maybe Apple is waiting as it often does, for technology or something else to be ready for its next iPhone. If Apple decides not to unveil its next iPhone during WWDC 2011 that can possibly mean that Apple wants to wait for AT&T.

It isn’t too difficult to see that the next jump in data connectivity for smartphones is LTE. Verizon is ahead of the competition and AT&T is following from way behind. Three extra months for AT&T would allow the carrier to build up a larger more palpable LTE network and allow Apple to unveil an iPhone that has LTE capability and expect brisk sales on both AT&T and Verizon. Why would Apple wait for AT&T?

Sales of the Verizon iPhone 4 has been strong but not stratospheric. At best the demand for the CDMA iPhone 4 is on par with the GSM version. One aspect of the CDMA iPhone 4 that gets little attention is Verizon itself. Personally I don’t trust Verizon to do what is right for the customer and its backend accounting system seems to be light years behind AT&T’s. Does that mean I trust AT&T? No, I don’t trust either, but I trust Verizon much less. This stems from having experienced both Verizon and AT&T for several years and I can tell you AT&T is more straight forward. Verizon, on the other hand, has only one goal in mind: do everything to maximize revenue per user. They will always up-sell, always pimp overpriced peripherals, always find an angle to get you to sign up for more. Then there are all sorts of accounting errors on your bill, or multiple bills for the same period. I think others get this about Verizon. The other obvious reason is that a lot of iPhone users on AT&T are still stuck with their two-year agreements. Whatever the reason sales of the iPhone 4 for Verizon haven’t been stellar.

The bottom line is that Apple needs both Verizon and AT&T to successfully launch the next iPhone. I think it would be beneficial to Apple if the iPhone was available on T-Mobile and Sprint, too. In the case of the iPhone more competition is better. Think of the additional 2GB of data for tethering offered by AT&T. Would that have happened if the iPhone 4 was still an exclusive? The extra 1000 minutes? Might not be directly related, but somehow I think it is. More competition is good for us iPhone customers.

So Apple needs AT&T to have some semblance of a LTE network in the US if the company wants to announce the next iPhone with LTE capability. Apple should not and probably will not let Verizon runaway with LTE. That could be the reason why Apple might not unveil the next iPhone at WWDC 2011 and wait until September.