By David Goldman:
Apple is a company that likes routine refresh cycles. Every September it releases new iPods. Every April is poised to be time for a new iPad. And every Summer, Apple releases a new iPhone.
This Summer, however, things didn’t go as planned. Apple’s next-gen iPhone release was pushed back a full three months and now 9to5Mac is able to shed some light on the events that transpired behind the scenes causing Apple to deviate from its beloved Summer iPhone launch strategy.
As you might expect, the iPhone 4S was supposed to be released at WWDC alongside iOS 5.
But something happened around February of this year that threw everything off. Apple was still integrating the Siri team and code into iOS and it was going much slower than planned. In February, Apple knew they weren’t going to be able to get an iOS 5 Beta to developers in April and they sure weren’t going to have a stable version by WWDC. They would be lucky to get a final version of Siri into customers’ hands by the holiday shopping season (Siri is currently in Beta in three languages).
So Apple was at a crossroads.
They could either release the iPhone 4S this Summer without iOS 5 or delay the entire device altogether. They obviously chose the latter, a move which we think was shrewd given that the features in iOS 5, and in particular Siri, are key selling points for the device.
One other option Apple considered, but was ultimately forced to abandon, was to release the iPhone 5 instead. It’s purported new form factor would, the logic goes, have made up for the delayed release of iOS 5. The problem with this plan, though, was that Foxconn was experiencing difficulties with the yield rates on the iPhone 5’s reportedly thinner screen.
So the iPhone 5 plan, by September, was out the window and all attention turned towards ramping up iPhone 4S production.
And while Apple might have been miffed at the delayed launch of the iPhone, I’m sure they’re resting easy knowing that the iPhone 4S launch is the most popular iPhone launch to date.
Lastly, it’s interesting that the hold up in releasing iOS 5 was Siri integration. Making something so easy to use is always more complex than it seems.