Apple may rely on a celebrity for iPhone 5 launch

Karen Haslam
11 September, 2012
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Apple may bring in a celebrity to help it spice up the launch of the new iPhone 5 at a press event on Thursday morning, according to an analyst.

Enderle Group analyst Rob Enderle has summed up his expectations for the 12 September iPhone launch event in his blog, writing that Apple will have its work cut out with the launch since so many details of the new phone have leaked. He also speculates that Apple will have a tougher time with the launch, with the market dominated by Android, as well as competition from existing iPhone models. As a result, Apple might bring in a celebrity to add some Steve Jobs-style magical energy to the media event, he writes.

Enderle writes about the importance of the 12 September event, saying: “Apple has two big products left to unveil this year: the new iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini. Of the two, the phone will be more critical, because Android competitors (Samsung in particular) have been gaining significant ground on the current iPhone.” Samsung now controls 32.6% of the smartphone market to Apple’s 18.8%, adds Enderle.

Another challenge: many of the features of the iPhone 5 have already leaked, he notes. “The company’s vaunted wall of secrecy might be cracking; we seem to know far more about the iPhone 5 than we should,” he writes.

Enderle wonders whether Apple CEO Tim Cook may stumble in that will be “the first to really showcase Tim Cook’s Apple.” He reference the recent Apple Genius ads that aired in the Olympics, and describes them as: “The company’s first marketing misstep since Jobs returned to the company in 1996.”

The iPhone 5 needs to be different and the same

Apple also has to compete with existing iPhones, notes Enderle. “Its strongest competitive feature will be its similarity to other iPhones – Apple can’t break that because we users don’t like change.” He notes that consumers’ love of the iPhone-style is the reason why Windows Phones aren’t taking off: “They are just too different from the current iPhone standard.”

“Maintaining that sense of familiarity creates a tricky dance for Apple: It has to showcase the product as both new and innovative, but also old and familiar,” he adds.

“If Apple fails on either vector, it will either lose existing iPhone users for becoming too different, or fail to capture new ones for not becoming different enough,” writes Enderle.

Enderle’s wish list for the new iPhone consists not just of new features, but fixes for existing ones. “Siri and iCloud have both proven somewhat problematic in actual use, so I would hope for improvements in both,” he says. He also hopes for some improved photo-taking features.

So just how is Apple going to make a good impression and grab the headlines?

Apple will have “real difficulty creating the kind of magic that Jobs was able to summon up,” writes Enderle, speculating that “We’ll likely see a celebrity trotted out at the launch event to help create the kind of on-stage presence that Steve Jobs once had, and Tim Cook lacks.”

Regardless of Apple’s show on Thursday, Enderle still expects queues to form when the iPhone goes on sale. “No doubt that the pent-up demand will create lines,” he writes.

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