It may seem like a distant memory now, but do you remember all of the conjecture surrounding the name of the 2011 and 2012 iPhone releases? funny how quickly forget: the subject of iPhone taxonomy was a heated one. In 2012, there was a camp of bloggers and commenters who insisted that the sixth-generation iPhone would necessarily need to be named “iPhone 6,” and that Apple would skip over the iPhone 5 in order to remain in line with the proper iterations.
While there very well may have been a corresponding camp at the Cupertino campus who felt the same way, the Apple marketing department would have none of it: as a keyword, “iPhone 5″ had way too much buzz attached to it. As a result, Apple cashed in on that keyword — and the iPhone taxonomy went out the window.
Now that Apple is clearly comfortable with mis-numbering its iPhones, it may not seem like much fun to ruminate on what the next iPhone will be called. But an iPhone’s name still clearly means something. as a result, we need to figure out what we’re going to refer to the 2013 iPhone as, since what we call it helps to frame the discussion.
It’s never easy to discern patterns with Apple, since they are always changing things up on us. However, it appears that a pattern has begun to develop with iPhone releases that delineate between “refreshed” and “overhauled” iterations. As far back as the 3G, the 3GS was a clear refresh. The iPhone 4 heralded a completely new design — thus substantiating a new number — followed by refreshed 4S in 2011. The iPhone 5 established the pattern: yet another new number introduced a new, overhauled design.
With this pattern in mind, is there any chance that the iPhone 6 could debut in 2013?
Anything is possible with Apple. But considering that five separate iPhone models have helped to define this distinct pattern, I find it unlikely that Apple will throw out the iPhone 5′s design in place of an overhauled iPhone 6 in 2013: they clearly look to get more mileage from their new designs than that. A refreshed iPhone 5S makes more sense.
But while it makes more sense, is “iPhone 5S” going to be how we discuss the 2013 iPhone, or “iPhone 6?”
If it were up to me, I’d set the discussion around “iPhone 5S” — not “iPhone 6.” alas, it isn’t up to me — or any one blogger, for that matter. In a strange, inexplicable way, the keywords we choose seem to evolve organically, collectively. A quick look at Google’s AdWords keyword research tool reveals that “iPhone 6″ currently garners eight times the amount of global monthly search traffic than “iPhone 5S:”
So, in spite of the clear pattern, “iPhone 6″ is still the keyword of choice for most people out there who want to read up on Apple’s 2013 iPhone release. The only question that remains is this: when the iPhone 5S is released in 2013, will consumers be as surprised as they were in 2011 with the iPhone 4S?
By Michael Nace