Verizon and AT&T want the iPhone 6 to drop in the third quarter of 2014, but will Apple play ball with its new flagship smartphone? Apple has released its last several iPhones in the September to October range, with retail launches and inventory ramp-ups tending to happen in the early days of the fourth quarter. But Q4 for the carriers is already is already loaded with holiday smartphone purchases, and with the first half of the year full of high profile Android phone launches, Q3 is where they have to work harder to hit their numbers. They’ll be looking for Apple to schedule the iPhone release date and rollout before the end of September.
Apple has tended to set product launches in its own terms and its own timetable, weighing factors ranging from when the hardware and software are ready to when the public is most likely to embrace new hardware such as the iPhone 6. It’s why Apple has distanced itself from trade shows like CES, whose January keynotes are a terrible time of year to get the public’s attention for a new consumer level product. Apple initially staged its iPhone rollouts in the summer, but that shifted to the fall when the iPhone 4S was delayed. Now Apple has the opportunity to move the iPhone 6 release date forward in the calendar and get it securely within the confines of the third quarter. And this time around, Apple may be more willing to listen to the likes of AT&T and Verizon when it comes to their wishes.
THe biggest challenge facing the iPhone is the fact that the carriers nearly always recommend higher-profit-margin Android phones over the iPhone when it comes to customers who aren’t sure what they want. Data shows that as many as twenty-five percent of Android buyers end up switching to the iPhone the second time around, but Apple still loses a year’s worth of sales in the interim. By playing nice with the carriers and giving them an iPhone 6 release date in the Q3 timeframe they want, the carriers may be less inclined to try to steer their customers toward the more controllable Android platform.