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Apple May Have Ordered a Big Boatload of Big iPhones

The frenzy over the forthcoming iPhone intensified Tuesday with a Wall Street Journal report that Apple has ordered up to 80 million units of the device.

Meanwhile, Samsung unveiled an ad poking fun at the “iPhone 6” and Xiaomi introduced its answer to the iPhone, the Mi4. Xiaomi, known for high specs at relatively low prices, is cutting inroads into markets in the developing world where Apple is struggling.

Piling insult on injury, a China-based company by the name of “Wico” last week released videos of the first iPhone 6 clone, creating cognitive dissonance in thinking observers — how do you clone a product that has yet to be released?

Rumors and Alarums

Stories are circulating that Apple will release the next iPhones in two sizes — one with a 4.7-inch screen and the other with a 5.5-inch screen, a development that Ezra Gottheil, a principal analyst at Technology Business Research, considered “very likely.”

Some believe Apple will use sapphire glass screens that are bendable, and that production problems with the screens may push back the launch of the 5.5-inch version to 2015, causing Apple fans to mutter darkly about the prospect of a delay. Others have ruled out sapphire glass screens.

“I think it’s likely that Apple was not able to get adequate production for the Sapphire screen, and that it will be directed at the iWatch now, and brought onto the iPhone later,” Gottheil told the E-Commerce Times.

“The lack of screen size on the iPhone 5s has stuck out for far too long,” stated Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research.

Much is being made of news that the iPhone 6’s screen will have in-cell technology, although this isn’t new — the iPhone 5’s screen uses this technology, as does the Sony Xperia P.

Another rumor is that the iPhone 6 will have a logo that lights up for incoming messages.

How Many Millions Again?

Perhaps the rumor that raises the most eyebrows is the WSJ report that Apple has ordered up to 80 million units.

Sales of 60 million new iPhones “is very reasonable” when spread over two quarters, ABI’s Spencer told the E-Commerce Times. Aiming to sell 60 million units in a quarter is “ambitious but not beyond the realms of possibility.”

The Bigger, the Better

There is some concern that a 5.5-inch iPhone 6 might cut into iPad sales.

However, the 7-to-8-inch tablet category “has been the fastest-growing tablet category over the past 18 months, and so has the 5-inch-plus smartphone, so it appears they can sell together,” Spencer pointed out.

It’s time Apple came out with a larger iPhone in response to market demand: “A lack of responsiveness and a head-in-the-sand approach, and the inability to then react [to the market] is not a good sign in a vendor,” Spencer remarked. “Just ask Nokia and BlackBerry.”

Apple’s Strategy Analyzed

CEO Tim Cook “seems to be increasingly focused on the competition, while Apple’s success under [the late Steve] Jobs had the competition focus on Apple,” Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group told the E-Commerce Times.

“Apple is a better leader than a follower, and Samsung is a better follower than a leader,” he continued.

“It looks like Samsung and Apple are chasing each other at the moment, and that isn’t good for either,” Enderle observed. “To win, Apple has to get back to focusing on what its customers want.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has written about high-tech for leading industry publications since the 1990s and wonders where it's all leading to. Will implanted RFID chips in humans be the Mark of the Beast? Will nanotech solve our coming food crisis? Does Sturgeon's Law still hold true? You can connect with Richard on Google+.

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