July 29, 2011, 1:15 PM — Rumors and Apple go together like summer and baseball. They are virtually inseparable. One of the prevailing Apple rumors right now is that the iPhone 5 will launch sometime in September. If that rumor comes true, smartphone rivals better buckle up because it could be a bumpy ride.
A recent survey found that 35% of consumers plan to get an iPhone 5 when it becomes available--and that is sight unseen with no official confirmation of its form or features. That is too large a number to be easily dismissed as Apple fanboys just trading their old iPhone for a new one.
With somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million mobile phone users in the United States, 35% represents more than 100 million customers anxious to grab an iPhone 5. With some estimates suggesting there are currently 50 million iPhone users out there, Apple could double its market share with the new model.
We already have the iPhone 4, and there are plenty of Android and Windows Phone 7 smartphones that are equivalent, and even superior in some ways. So, why is the iPhone 5 creating such a frenzy?
iPhone 3GS Holdouts. When the iPhone 4 launched, there was a bit of controversy over the antenna, and the proximity sensor, and more. As successful as it has been, the initial stumbling of the iPhone 4 turned a lot of people off. Many iPhone 3GS users have held on to their trusty smartphone, and have waited patiently for the iPhone 5 to come along.
Verizon Holdouts. When Verizon got the iPhone 4 earlier this year, it was a huge success. However, many Verizon customers chose not to jump on the iPhone 4 bandwagon because they didn't want to get locked into a two-year contract with the iPhone 5 right around the corner. Many Verizon customers have sat on the sidelines waiting for the iPhone 5.
The Fall of RIM. RIM is dropping like a rock. The once dominant smartphone provider is in a death spiral, and customers at the end of contracts with BlackBerry smartphones will be looking to jump ship and find an alternative. Some portion of disenfranchised BlackBerry users will migrate to the iPhone 5. Of course, the Windows Phone 7.5 "Mango" devices should hit about the same time, and Microsoft's mobile platform may draw more BlackBerry loyalists than Apple.