June 7th, 2012, 9:40 P.M. — Ahead of the Virgin Mobile and Cricket’s iPhones, more leaks involving the iPhone 5 appear online that might force some customers to wait.
iPhone 5 rumors excite customers and news sites, but will they affect sales of the upcoming prepaid iPhones?
Now with more leaks than ever, can Virgin Mobile and Cricket sell more iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S now after videos and set of photos reportedly “confirm” that the iPhone 5 will ship with a larger display and new design? These are rumors, I know, but trust me, some of them are accurate based on older rumors surrounding older iPhones like the “8-megapixel iPhone” rumor last year, now known as the iPhone 4S with an 8-megapixel camera and the “LTE iPad with HD display” rumor of 2011. It turned out, the HD iPad was the new iPad 3 for the year 2012 shipping with Long Term Evolution and Retina display.
The rise of the prepaid iPhones in the United States will benefit Apple, and maybe, the market is on the verge of welcoming more prepaid Apple smartphones with various plan prices if Cricket and Virgin Mobile will beat expectations (figures that we don’t know).
But the timing of new iPhone 5 “leaks” is very intriguing because this month, Apple is holding the WWDC 2012. Some rumormongers think the timing suggests that the iPhone 5 might get a Q2 or early Q3 release date (Apple to surprise the smartphone world? Maybe), while others say the leaks are related to the Samsung Galaxy S3 and Apple wants to mess with customers’ eyes and normal-functioning brain cells.
I think it is safe to say that Apple is building a vibrant iPhone ecosystem right in front of our eyes, from free iPhone 3GS to prepaid iPhone 4 and the iPhone 4S, and the missing smartphone that should take the top-end slot by the end of this year. Well, the top-end smartphone is probably the iPhone 5, and according to some analysts, Apple’s supply chain is now moving towards finishing touches.
One article suggests that the new prepaid iPhones are targeting the consumers who might ignore the “expensive” iPhone 5 and other smartphones. USA Today is reporting that the Virgin Mobile iPhones, Sprint’s latest venture to dispose more iPhones, is tailored to convince the budget-conscious market after the number of postpaid users fell, and following the reports that the pre-paid phone market will grow 7.4% per year on average for the next 5 years.
The new leaks of the iPhone 5, like the video reportedly showing the new back case of the iPhone, whether they’re accurate or not, can also work in favor of Cricket and Virgin Mobile’s new iPhones because not all customers want the latest and greatest all the time. It is a matter of personal preference, I think, and the cheaper iPhone 4S might lure more customers than the iPhone 5 because according to USA Today, some customers “want flexibility,” and knowing that the iPhone 5 is probably a high-end smartphone with LTE or Long Term Evolution, its features alone could scare off some customers who want to save money, especially in other countries where prepaid iPhones are already available.
A survey suggests that prepaid customers are also loyal to their networks, and one report thinks that the iPhone can bring a new revenue stream for prepaid operators because many customers want it, and they want it now. Also, prepaid customers “generally stick around nearly as long as contract customers.” According to Digital Trends, quoting a survey conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers, prepaid customers stick to carriers for 20 months. In short, if a customer wants to buy a prepaid phone, he will, and he will use the phone with the prepaid services for more than 1 year.
Apple’s rival, Android, is growing rapidly in other countries especially in Asia (China, Philippines, India) because they love prepaid. It is also worth noting that in other countries prepaid and unlocked iPhones are more popular.
Does Apple need a new smartphone? Yes. Does Apple need more prepaid iPhones? Of course. But can the new iPhone 5 leaks affect the sales of the pre-paid iPhones? Well, of course not.
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