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The real pain of the iPhone leak

When Gizmodo leaked the iPhone design they received last week, the tech and wider media worlds were turned on their head. Apple products are normally fiercely guarded secrets until their release, and in the preceding run up the media frenzy and speculative rumors contribute to a huge launch.

Gizmodo seemed pretty convinced that they were looking at the real 4th generation iPhone and the legal actions of recent days could be taken to lend further credence to that view. If true, that would mean we might witness an iPhone release this year lacking some of the wild anticipation of previous events. That’s bad news for Apple since the column inches generated by that anticipation normally reach so many people who don’t follow tech news. People will still know, but the scale of speculative excitement is likely to be smaller.

On top of that, since Gizmodo’s coverage exploded out of the tech bubble into mainstream media many potential iPhone buyers are now more likely to delay their purchases. Sure, in the tech industry we all expected a new iPhone this year but most Main Street consumers were blissfully aware. Not anymore. That’s potentially problematic for sales targets and stock inventory planning of both the current and future models which makes life difficult for Apple and its suppliers. We know from the iPad delays how new devices can cause issues for bespoke component production. I’d anticipate that we may see now supply failing to meet higher than planned demand if the new iPhone does launch this summer.

The biggest concern for Apple however might be far more visible than stock inventory planning. Now that these iPhone images are in the wild I fully expect to see copies launched in parallel or prior to the next iPhone launch. While these are unlikely to come from mainstream giants such as HTC or Dell, that doesn’t really matter. Apple likes to set the design agenda and that is normally a strong competitive advantage for the company over its competitors. Now there are potentially months of lead time for smaller manufacturers to design and deliver similar looking devices. Meanwhile the larger OEMs have an advance scoop on what they are potentially up against.

Neil Berman

facebook.com/theonbutton

theonbutton.com

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Apr 28, 2010 - Posted by | Analysis, Apple | , , ,

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