(By Rich Bieglmeier) iPhone 5 is no longer a secret. Apparently, it never really was as many of the features and the timing of the release were in the public domain long before it was official.
Everybody already knows that the phone is a little longer, skinnier, lighter, faster, has a bigger screen, retina display, better camera, longer battery life and smaller sized charging port. Oh, the cost of replacing all those charging accessories.
On the message boards, the early reviews run from one end to the other: "Steve Jobs would have never allowed this thing out the door," to "This is the last Apple product with Steve Jobs' DNA." iStock wonders how Henry Blodget feels? The last time the banned analyst commented on iPhone 5's new look, he wrote, "If The iPhone 5 Really Looks Like This, Apple May Be Screwed..." It really does look like this.
Perhaps the biggest annoyance that users will experience is that third party apps that are too small to fill the entire screen, which should be resolved within a few weeks as developers update the apps.
The main difference for some users will be in the data plans at Verizon as upgrading customers will have to pay the full price of $649 for 16GB to keep their unlimited data plan. Otherwise, to get discounted phones users will have to select from Share Everything Plans.
The lucky ones at AT&T who are grandfathered with unlimited data get to keep it despite paying a subsidized price for the iPhone 5. Sprint will offer unlimited data starting at just $79.99 per month. Pricing for the iPhone 5 will be the same for the three carriers for a two-year contract at $199 for 16GB, $299 for 32GB, and $399 for 64GB.
In addition to changes in data plans and the iPhone, iStock wanted to follow up on our previous Google Trends story to see if iPhone 5 search trends have changed now that news is official.
The good news is that every region of the eight we measured is at its peak level for 2012, and seven of the eight are trending vertically higher. Maybe the Japanese didn't like the US court's Samsung ruling? However, current levels are still below 4S peak readings. By the time all the latest data filters in, iStock suspects the max search volume index readings for iPhone and iPhone 5 will more in line with iPhone 4 than 4S.
Based on the new phone's look, higher cost for non-grandfathered AT&T accounts and Verizon's policy change to shared data or paying full price for the phone, we don't expect the needle for Apple Inc.'s (AAPL) smartphone, market share to move much.
We agree with many analysts that the lion's share of sales will come from the upgrade cycle; although, we suspect some Verizon customers could consider alternatives to the iPhone. If there is enough outrage, Verizon's policy could go the way of Bank of America's $5 a month to have a debit card plan. No doubt, iPhone 5 will be a success, but Google Trends hints that it might not live up to the "save the world and economy" hyperbole on Wall Street. But, then again, who could minus a cape and big S app?
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