The End of the January Product Same-Day Release?

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    Posted: 21 January 2010 07:04 AM

    As mac advocates, tech geeks and market pundits await the official announcements from Apple next week in San Francisco, those who are loyal to the company can look back on what could only be described, for back of better words, as the magical moment when Apple CEO Steve Jobs stood on the Macworld stage every January, and revealed an amazing new product that was available “today”.

    Looking forward every year for the imminent release from Apple is now a challenge for those with burning pocketbooks and an insatiable need to have the newest and greatest product in town. FCC filings are the equivalent of a poker player showing their hand, and “reliable sources” seem to pop up like moles (pun intended? you make the call).

    The success of Macworld for Apple, no doubt, became a hindrance to their ability to allow flexibility for product releases. They know that their loyal base has driven the success of new products, through positive reviews and diligent word of mouth advertising.

    Alas, the time of group hugs may have passed with the announcement of Apple’s last Macworld showing in 2009. While Apple’s Senior VP Phil Schiller’s presence at the ‘09 Macworld was expected, is was also commented as not having that special feeling that was always present when Steve Jobs took the stage. Also, big stream media has now gotten into the Apple hype: the release of the iPhone ultimately became the siren’s call that could not be avoided, and it seems as though the next big thing that Apple could release could change the world forever.

    With the possibility of an Apple tablet on the horizon, the hype has built up again, but seems to show reality being mixed with fantasy. One thing seems for certain in most commentaries: don’t expect an Apple tablet to be out for sale in January.

    Could it be that the magic has begun to fade for mac fans, who must now face a new year with the realization that there is no Santa Claus in January, and that they have to hold on to their wish list just a little longer?

    Or will there be a moment on January 27, 2010 where Apple fans look at the clock, think that it’s all over… that there is nothing under the Christmas tree, but unexpectedly hear the magical words “one more thing”. Will they take a deep breath of surprise, witness an excitement among the masses, which builds up to a crescendo that culminates with the dream becoming reality, and the gift to Apple fans, doubters and dreamers becomes available for purchase the same day?

    I personally believe in Santa Claus, and always will. However,only time will tell if I will continue to believe in the magic of January.

    [ Edited: 21 January 2010 07:21 AM by AceNet-Alan ]

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  • Posted: 23 January 2010 01:24 AM #1

    Please remember the iPhone was announced months in advance. It’s not uncommon for Apple to announce a product that ships at a later date. It’s uncommon, as in the case of the iPhone, for a product to be announced but not shipped in the same quarter.

    One of the reasons Apple has in the past offered certain product upgrades and refreshes the same day the new products were announced was to avoid a distortion is sales patterns on existing products still in the market place. It’s bad enough Mac sales patterns were distorted in the December quarter due to anticipated Mac refreshes in January.

    It’s not a coincidence the early refresh of the iMacs late last year may have contributed to the expected record Mac unit sales in the December quarter. I do recall Apple announcing updated products with an end-of-quarter ship date. To Apple and the company’s shareholders, it makes no difference whether a product ships the day it’s announced or shipped weeks later as long as the sales and corresponding revenue are booked in the quarter the products are announced.

    The original iPhone was announced in late February and shipped at the end of June. Why? Because the iPhone was a new product line that did not compete with or replace an existing Apple product. Apple chose to pre-announce the product to build demand and provide consumers with the information they needed to postpone a planned cell phone purchase in favor of the new iPhone.

    The tablet also represents a new product. But it will compete at least marginally with other Apple products so it needs to ship in the same quarter it is announced. Because Apple is in negotiations with a variety of product partners including commercial content owners and software developers, there’s no way to keep the product secret by Apple standards. Better to control the information flow than deny it exists or delay the official announcement because information leaks are inevitable ahead of the product’s planned ship dates.

    Apple also needs to contract manufacturing and estimate the need for contracted manufacturing capacity. Peak manufacturing capacity is expensive. The more demand that can be gauged following introduction the better Apple can forecast needed manufacturing capacity to meet demand.