Every year, just around the time a new iPhone is generally considered to be on the horizon - like the currently rumored though unannounced iPhone 5s - stories start to circulate that this new - rumored though unannounced - iPhone is facing delays. Or, DELAYS! Generally the stories are tied to some new - also rumored though unannounced - bit of technology that would make this year's iPhone better, faster, stronger, or just plain geeky-cooler than the one before. It could be new type of display or a new authentication technology, a new material or new radio part. It doesn't seem to matter what really. It only seems to matter that it will cause a DELAY! It's gotten to the point that if you sit by the internet long enough, the body of that story will absolutely stream by.
Predictable as it is, boring as it's become, sensational as it may be, in fairness it's not without reason.
Apple pushes the limits. That's what they do. I've said it before and I'll say it again - no other company in the world could have manufactured the iPhone 5 last year. Not only did Apple design it, they designed a lot of the equipment needed to make it, and they did it for a single device intended to sell in the hundreds of millions. It's the result of a unique set of capabilities, resources, and circumstances in the market.
For all the bitching about "boring, still a phone!" we endured last year, Apple rebuilt the iPhone 5 almost from the atom up, and they didn't do it because they needed to. They did it because they were driven to. They like the idea that the stuff they make isn't only hard to make, but nearly impossible to make. It's why it took other companies years to reproduce anything approaching a MacBook Air. Something financially, computationally, or temporally hard to make can be harder still to replicate. (iOS 7 is the same approach applied to software.)
That attitude, however, that willingness to push limits and boundaries and create new things comes at a price. It's expensive in multiple ways, and it's dangerous to budgets, timelines, and resources.
Making new things means being subject to and dependent upon innumerable, chaotic conditions and factors. It's why Apple has the leadership and teams they do, including Tim Cook, and why they have multiple suppliers, windows of opportunity for launch, and all sorts of other mechanisms built in to ensure they can keep doing it year after year, product after product.
And it's why, year after year, product after product, we get rumors of this or that component shortage or manufacturing problem, and always, every time, incessant repetition of the word delay. Delay. DELAY!
Maybe one supplier has one problem with one cutting-edge component, but other suppliers are just fine. Doesn't matter. It gets out and DELAY! What if no one has a problem and someone, somewhere, just wants to mess with Apple's stock price? DELAY!
The iPhone 5s - or whatever Apple calls their new iPhone(s) this year - hasn't been delayed. It hasn't even been announced. No iPhone has ever been delayed. Constrained at and following launch? Sure. But delayed? Never. Even in 2011, when the iPhone 4S switched to a fall release window from a summer one, it was made known months in advance, well before WWDC, and it shipped right when it was intended to.
So if someone wants to strap on their annual Apple is doomed pants and scream DELAY, like clockwork, across the internet, and work up a market that is long past knowing better but keeps getting manipulated anyway, that's fine. That's what they do. They figure out when they can launch a great new product, invite the media about a week before hand, announce it, and then ship it immediately to a few weeks after.
It's what happened last year and every year before, and it's what'll happen this year and every year for the foreseeable future.
The truth is, only Apple can doom Apple, and one of the signs that would presage that happening is when Apple no longer cares about pushing the limits and boundaries. And, ironically, that's when the DELAYED! stories will stop.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.