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Network World - The iOSphere quivered with anticipation as it welcomed a rumor that the Next iPhone, whatever it will be like, draws nigh, as worker bees in Chinese factories prepare their assembly lines.
Also this week, price cuts on 2-year-old iPhone models in Brazil are a harbinger of the Next iPhone; prototype photos of curved screens; wrap-around displays; and why a June 20 announcement date defies common sense.
You read it hear second.
Best iOSphere Headline of the Week Award: "Steve Jobs to supervise iPhone 6 FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE"
Something, for sure. The Wall Street Journal, citing "people familiar with the device's production," reported this week that Apple will start producing a "refreshed iPhone similar in size and shape" to the current iPhone 5 in the April-June period.
Which would mean "teeing up a possible summer launch for the next version of its flagship device," according to reporters Lorraine Luk, Jessica Lessin and Eva Dou.
But a second iPhone, the mythical "less expensive iPhone" or iCheaphone, is still in the works and "could be launched as soon as the second half of this year." The newspaper seems confident it will be a "four-inch device" and "use a different casing from the higher-end iPhone." One word: plastic.
And then there's this, undoubtedly the iOSphere Understatement of the Week: "Apple has been working on different color shells for the [cheap] phone but its plans remain unclear."
Seriously? "Unclear" makes it sound like those plans are just right there under the surface, or waiting for a few stray clouds to lift, or full dawn to break, or the lights to come on. At this point, Apple's "plans" for the Next iPhone[s] are the iOSphere equivalent of a black hole: There is a striking absence of credible information about the features, size, design or even the name of the next phone, or about the next version of its operating system.
But the iOSphere abhors, loathes, detests a vacuum and there is no lack of cliches rushing in to fill it. If you can't say anything credible about the phone, say something incredible about the company that makes it.
For example, the Journal quotes Neil Mawston, an analyst at research firm Strategy Analytics, as saying, "There isn't really any major differentiator between the players at this phase." All those new smartphone buyers probably just flip a coin to decide which one to buy.
"The panacea is to transform the industry with a revolutionary design." But Apple's steep and sustained growth in iPhone sales, especially over the past five quarters, show if anything the opposite: A proven design, continuously improved, creates brand trust and brand loyalty in a mass of buyers.
Lacking a revolutionary design, according to Mawston, means that "you have to do the traditional business school implementations like manage costs and move quicker than your rivals."