CES and Apple, how they compete. (Editorial)

A spectator of CES 2012 may describe this years Consumer Electronic Show as, “underwhelming”. And even though I wasn’t there, I don’t blame them. Microsoft didn’t show us anything, other than the fact that Balmer can’t hold a keynote to save his life. AT&T only showed us the all-but-confirmed US version of the Samsung Galaxy Note, the 5.3 inch LTE monster that barley fits in your pocket. They also announced the Lumia 900, but there was no surprise there either. If you really want to be nice to AT&T though, you can say that the Sony Xperia Ion was unexpected, but judging by Engadget’s unscientific hands-on, the Ion is just gonna be another laggy Android phone paralyzed by the fact that it’ll need to wait a few months to taste some of that delicious Ice Cream Sandwich. Also, Sony’s skin isn’t doing it any favors either. But Verizon, oh don’t even get me started on Verizon. The Droid Razr MAXX? Really Verizon, what are you, kidding me? A mere two months after Big Red hyped the hell out of the Droid Razr and released it on 11.11.11 at 11:11 AM, they announced the Droid Razr MAXX. Basically it’s a thicker Droid Razr, with a 3300mAH battery. Yes that’s right, it turns a phone that sells you on the ‘thin’, and turns it thick. Oxymoron? I think yes. Headed back to Microsoft though, you’ve got to feel some remorse for them though, right? I mean it’s their last year at CES according to Balmer, and they really didn’t have anything new to announce, so he decided to rehash on Microsofts biggest upcoming product release, Windows 8. You know, he was gonna give us more details about this hugely hyped OS, right?. Oh wait, whats that? They didn’t talk about Windows 8? Oh yes, that’s right, Balmer decided to use his last CES keynote to talk about..Kinect? Absolutely, makes perfect sense right? You’re OS is the most used and recognizable OS in the entire world, and you’re about to refresh the entire UI, and you use your last CES keynote to talk about an all but confirmed flop: Kinect for Windows. Microsoft spilled the beans on this one boy, they told us when they’ll start shipping the new Kinect, which will be on February 1st for a whopping $250.00. $100.00’s more than the Xbox Kinect costs. I’m not quite sure why Microsoft would decide to this, as Kinect was one of the most successful product launches ever, selling almost 20 millions units. With Microsoft out of CES though, this makes the two top tech companies out of CES. But just because Apple is physically absent, that don’t mean their sprit isn’t present, as it largely is. Apple usually has a tendency to rain on every other tech companies parade by sending out invitations to their latest press event a day or two into CES. This causes the Apple rumor mill to stir up again, making everyone forget about that newly announced Toshiba tablet. This year was no different, as just one day after all the big announcements were made, and technically the first day of CES, Apple sent out the invitations for an “education announcement” in New York City. The New York Times says that the announcement will “showcase a new push by Apple..but will not feature any new devices..” The New York Times claim though doesn’t really add up, as Apple is set to announce the iPad 3 soon so it can start shipping in early March. Apple usually doesn’t host two events within a very short period of time. But anythings possible. What does all this mean though for Apple? How is Apple going to compete with all these new LTE devices with 4-5 inch screens? Keep reading to find out my take on how Apple is going to thrive another year in this growingly competitive market.

Apple gets about 50% of their revenue from the iPhone, it’s clear that consumers love the iPhone and want to buy it every year, but as other phones start to grow, and the iPhone seems like it shrinks every year, consumers may switch over to an Android phone with a larger screen. Chances are that Apple isn’t going to go another year with the iPhone boasting a 3.5” inch screen, and that we’ll see a bump that’ll probably make the new screen something in the 4” inch range. Apple will probably also keep its Retina Display at 326ppi, but don’t be surprised if we see a Retina Display 2, something in the 720p range.

Apple has to be careful though with messing with their screen size. If they decide to make the switch to the larger display, all developers will probably have to reconfigure their apps to display properly on the new size, just like they did with the release of the iPhone 4 and the Retina Display, also the iPad too. But developers aren’t the only ones Apple has to worry about, the customer is the top priority. What if the people don’t like the new screen size? What if it jocks Apples style? There are a lot of things Apple needs to worry about, to make sure they can find the perfect screen size. But don’t sweat it, Apple always has a way to make things work out.

A large screen isn’t the only thing Apple needs to incorporate into the next iPhone though, true 4G LTE Data needs to finally be added to that slow 3G we’ve had for so long. At first, we though that only the Verizon iPhone would have LTE as they were the only major US carrier with it. But after AT&T rolled out LTE along side 5 or so devices, we felt pretty confident that Verizon won’t be the lone wolf. The problem of LTE transferred over from AT&T to Sprint though. Two out the three iPhone carriers supported LTE, Sprint was stuck with WiMax. Surly Apple wasn’t going to release the iPhone saying “It’s got LTE*”, with a little asterisk explaining “*Except Sprint, you’re stuck with WiMax”. Luckily we won’t have to deal with that, as just days after Sprint leaked some LTE Galaxy Nexus ads, they announced that LTE would be launching in all markets soon.

With one problem gone, another derives, battery life. With the whole carrier situation resolved, Apple now shifts gears to fixing the one thing holding them back from using LTE: it kills the battery life. Phones that that were neophytes to LTE like the HTC Thunderbolt where great phones, as long as you had a charger and were near an electrical outlet. They were fast, shiny and had LTE, but not being able to keep a charge made these phones outdated fast. Verizon quickly learned that customers weren’t going to put up with this much longer, so they decided that their new LTE devices had to have longer that a two hour charge. Still, this didn’t mean that all new LTE devices were as long lasting as their previous 3G devices. Manufactures were eventually able to fix this, as new LTE devices started to last much longer. A perfect example of this would be of Samsung with their hugely successful Galaxy S line. The Galaxy S II which has sold nearly 15 million devices has one of the longest batteries on the market today, and it also packs in 4G. Apple’s going to need to do what Samsung did here, make a device with a large screen, 4G speeds, and a good camera with a long lasting, satisfactory battery.

The final thing Apple needs to worry about in 2012 are the competing smartphones. This is pretty much a given, but regardless of the fact that CES didn’t show us anything too new, they did show us some new LTE devices for AT&T. Which happens to be where most of Apple’s iPhone revenue comes from. AT&T loves selling iPhones, but with all the time and money they’ve invested in LTE they’re not gonna be shy in advertising all their new LTE devices and how “fast” LTE really is. Right now, AT&T’s LTE seems to be faster that Verizon’s LTE. Chances are that’s probably due to the fact that AT&T’s LTE network is very unused and the people that are using it are getting really fast speeds. Congestion killed AT&T’s 3G reliability reputation, hopefully this won’t happen now with their 4G network. The iPhone should be to blame for that though, as everyone who wanted an iPhone had to go to AT&T originally. Now it’s spread out though, so hopefully that won’t be a problem any longer. But back to what Apple needs to do, as long as AT&T and Apple milk the fact that the AT&T iPhone has 21Mbps+ speeds down, which in AT&T’s eyes is 4G HSPA+, then Apple should be fine for the next few months too come until we see the iPhone 6.

All and all, Apple has some pretty ruff competition this year, but as long as Apple pleases everybody with the iPhone 6 (Or whatever they call it), and keeps up the good publicity and adverting with the current iPhone 4s, then Apple should be fine, and dominate the smartphone market for another year to come.