In a surprise move by Apple Inc., the Cupertino smartphone maker has decided that its new OS version, iOS 10.3.2 (currently in beta testing), will not come to iPhone 5 and iPhone 5c. That leaves tens of millions of devices in the lurch, forcing a hard stop at iOS 10.3.1, the current public version.
We’ve known for some time that Apple is killing support for 32-bit applications with iOS 11, but things have escalated quickly, and Apple has taken a tough decision to leave iPhone 5 and 5c out of the iOS 10.3.2 update. That’s got to be at least a 100 million iPhones left out in the cold, because iPhone 5 alone has sold over 90 million units.
But we don’t think that the decision is related to the move to 64-bit apps at all.
While it’s not immediately clear why Apple is doing this, one very big clue could be the iPhone’s flagging sales. iPhone sales dipped for the first time in 2016, and Apple could be apprehensive about 2017 sales as well. That’s why so many models of iPhone are coming out this year – no less than 5 variants.
By stopping the updated midway for older devices, the company is effectively saying: “If you want to move beyond iOS 10.3.1, then you need to upgrade your device. And we’re giving you lots of options to pick from.”
That might seem like an unfair move, but it’s a business decision that could save Apple’s sales numbers in 2017. By forcing people to upgrade, the company will, at the very least, see a surge in the sales of iPhone 5s and higher devices.
This is the first time Apple is dropping a model part-way through an iOS update cycle, so that’s the most plausible reason at this point. Since iOS 10.3.2 won’t be a major update anyway, it’s not even likely to be related to hardware compatibility. This time, it’s not about iOS 10.3.2 features or about 32-bit versus 64-bit apps: it’s about survival in a smartphone market that is getting far too competitive for Apple’s liking.
As we’ve observed before, 2017 will see the most number of premium smartphones come to market, ever.
- Apple has iPhone (PRODUCT)RED, iPhone SE 128GB, iPhone 7s, iPhone 7s Plus and iPhone 8 – that’s 5 models.
- Samsung has the Galaxy S8 and S8 Plus, the Galaxy Note 8 and possibly two foldable models – Galaxy X and X1 – that’s another 5 models.
- Google will have Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL and a third phone currently codenamed Taimen – that’s 3 more models.
That makes 13 premium-priced smartphones for this year. And if Surface Phone comes in the three expected variants before the end of 2017, that will bring the grand total up to a whopping 16 premium smartphones from four major tech companies in 2017.
In a market that is already showing signs of growth slowdown, excessive competition can only lead to ‘market share theft’ to keep each brand and model selling as much as it can.
Apple has likely anticipated this level of aggressive competition in the premium segment that it occupies, so the decision to stop updating iPhone 5 and 5c as of iOS 10.3.1 is very likely linked to worst and best-case scenario sales projections for the smartphone industry overall, and Apple iPhone sales in particular, rather than anything else.
: Forbes’ Gordon Kelly has updated his original report saying that “Apple has asked for time to look into this.” Other reports suggest that iPhone 5 and 5c could get the beta versions of iOS 10.3.2, which means Apple may revoke the decision and push iOS 10.3.2 to these devices after all. 200 million fingers crossed?
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