Sharing the Stage

Back in February, MG Siegler, among others, noted a remarkable milestone:

Last quarter, Microsoft brought in $20.89 billion in revenue. Apple brought in $46.33 billion.

Put another way: Apple’s iPhone business alone is larger than all of Microsoft’s businesses combined.

You’d be on solid ground arguing that the iPhone is the single most profitable product in the world today, and without question, it is the most important single product in Apple’s lineup. The iPad may surpass it within a few years. Or a disruption from a competitor may deflate it. But as it stands today, the iPhone is king.

I’ve been thinking about this in the context of the rumored Apple event next month. Rene Ritchie of iMore, who’s been just killing it this year with well-sourced information and astute analysis, wrote back on July 30:

iMore has learned that Apple is planning to debut the new iPhone at a special event on Wednesday, September 12, 2012, with the release date to follow 9 days later on Friday, September 21. This information comes from sources who have proven accurate in the past.

The iPad mini will be announced at the same September 12 event, as will the new iPod nano. We haven’t heard a release date for the iPad mini yet, but it could be the same as the iPhone 5. It seems likely the new iPod touch will make an appearance on September 12 as well, though we haven’t heard any specific information about that yet either.

Ritchie has great sources, so he may well know something for a fact that I don’t. But that second aforequoted paragraph in Ritchie’s report doesn’t sit right with me.

The problem that occurred to me: I don’t think Apple would want reviews of both a new iPhone and new-size iPad appearing at the same time. Why share the spotlight? Why have another Apple product battling with the iPhone for the top spots in news coverage? So I thought, well, maybe they’d only seed the review units of the iPhone on September 12, with the new-size iPad going into reviewer hands a few weeks later.

But the more I think about it, the less sense it makes for the iPhone to even share the stage at the announcement with any other product. The iPhone is too big, too cool, and garners too much attention — and it’s in Apple’s interest to keep that attention undiluted.

I’m thinking it makes more sense for Apple to hold two events. First, an iPhone event, focused solely on the new iPhone and iOS 6. Then, the iPhone ships nine days later, and there’s another wave of iPhone-focused attention as the reviews come out. Then, in the first or second week of October, Apple holds its traditional “music event”, exactly along the lines of the events at which they’ve been debuting new iPods for the last decade. (Maybe more of an “iTunes event” than just “music event”, given the rise of other media like TV shows, movies, and books.1)

An event where the iPad Air (cool, but just a smaller thinner cheaper iPad), new iPod Touch (cool, but just an iPhone without the phone), and maybe even new or at least updated iPod music players (eh) share the stage, tied together with the theme of consuming iTunes media content — that I can buy.

An event where the iPhone shares the stage? That I’m not buying.2

  1. And if it’s an “iTunes” event, maybe a major new version of the long-overdue-for-a-major-rewrite iTunes app? A boy can dream. ↩︎

  2. Careful readers may notice that in Jim Dalrymple’s “Yep” regarding Ritchie’s scoop on the September 12 event date, the blockquoted text only includes the portion regarding the iPhone. ↩︎