The Apple is doing the opposite of what the U.S is being through. This allows the iPhone 5 release date with an opportunity for Apple to blow as much money as it wants on a marketing ad blitz for the launch and build-up of advance inventory. Apple has $76 billion cash at hand while the U.S only has $74 billion. Apple is in a unique position to come out swinging with the iPhone 5 when it launches, even as the fifth generation iPhone marks what Apple hopes is an inflection point in iPhone marketshare which will take it to the same dominant heights as its fellow iOS 5 devices like the iPad and iPod. Apple has begun taking some steps in order to take its shot with the iPhone 5, while others will need to wait to release day and still others will come after launch.
Apple’s major move for boosting iPhone 5 exposure is a deal with Verizon to have the iPhone 5 on the nation’s number one carrier at launch. Verizon took an aging iPhone 4 to market a few months ago just to try to stop the bleeding after its customers had spent the past four years gradually defecting to AT&T for the iPhone. Verizon’s own internal data showed that the AT&T iPhone 4 was outselling the then-flagship Verizon Droid by a 5 to 2 margin at the time the Verizon iPhone 4 launched. But while a Verizon iPhone 5 will boost iPhone 5 marketshare significantly even while saving Verizon’s growth hopes, the move didn’t cost Apple anything in terms of cash; other moves will require an Apple investment.
The most clear cash investment will come in the form of advertising. From TV ads to billboards, the iPhone 5 will be everywhere. Comparing it to the start of the iPhone 4 era, where Apple had so little inventory to go around in comparison to demand that there was no sense in an exhaustive ad campaign. Instead Apple’s ads focused more on specific features like FaceTime. But with Apple having reportedly made a massive manufacturing investment which will have fifteen million iPhone 5 units on hand by release date, that means Apple can advertise non-stop and will be able to meet as much demand as it can drum up.
Other opportunities for the promotion of iPhone 5 exist. With Verizon and especially AT&T going slow with 4G network rollout, Apple could get into the game itself by subsidizing the tower-building in exchange for carrier concessions. That could in turn pay off in spades, as Apple’s vision for mobile devices involves heavy network data usage and instead the carriers are pushing for limited data plans and data speed throttling. If Apple could gain the upper hand with the carriers, it could attempt to reverse that trend specifically for iPhone users, even as users of other phones bear the brunt of network scale-downs.
Apple can also get into the acquisition game in order to either eliminate its competitors or to envelop others’ technology into its own iOS platform. BlackBerry maker RIM is there for the taking, but it’s not clear what if anything RIM has to offer that Apple doesn’t already have. Still, Apple has been known to buy dying companies (Lala for instance) simply to acquire the engineers who work there. But other companies such as smartphone parts suppliers could be acquired in order to ensure Apple has no trouble manufacturing enough iPhone 5 to meet whatever demand is created by Apple’s massive advertising investment. Then again, surveys show that anywhere from one third to one half of the general public has already made up their mind to buy an iPhone 5, even before it’s been unveiled. It seems then that the most important thing Apple can do to drive iPhone 5 sales is simply to announce a release date.