Millions of early Verizon iPhone 4 buyers are going to be very, very upset when Apple turns around and revs its flagship smartphone to the iPhone 5 less than half a year later, and replaces their still shiny-new hardware with a Verizon iPhone 5. The pieces are all in place. Apple revs the iPhone every summer. And there’s a reason why Apple allowed Verizon to handle this month’s Verizon iPhone 4 introduction. While it’s a major deal now, it’ll ultimately be looked back as a mere asterisk when it comes to iPhone generational history, as the Verizon iPhone 5 will be the first full-season iPhone model. And its launch will lead to some very, very upset buyers unless Apple or Verizon has something in place to accommodate them.
It’s easy to understand why Apple and Verizon jumped the gun now, instead of simply waiting for the iPhone 5 era. Apple wants to keep Verizon customers from losing their patience and buying into the Droid platform instead. Verizon wants to keep its customers from losing their patience and bailing for AT&T. So the two companies have cut a corner with a mid period Verizon iPhone which gets them both in the game half a year earlier than they otherwise would. But just wait until next month’s Verizon iPhone 4 buyers get to summer and learn that A) a new Verizon iPhone 5 has just been announced, and B) they’re not even eligible to buy it at street price because they just bought their last phone too recently. And you know what? If those folks feel burned or surprised when that happens, they’ll only have themselves to blame.
An eight year old with access to wikipedia can figure out that the iPhone 5 is most likely coming this summer. Heck, anyone who can count up the four iPhone generations on their fingers can see that each iPhone generation has always been good for a year, and that the iPhone 4 has already been around for half that. Ultimately, many or most people who buy the Verizon iPhone 4 will conclude that it was their own fault for not doing any semblance of basic homework before making their purchase. And many others may not care about a subsequent Verizon iPhone 5 launch at all. After all, the arrival of a new generation doesn’t mean the old generation suddenly stops working as well. And it’s also very likely that even once the Verizon iPhone 5 launches, the existing Verizon iPhone 4 will stick around as the new sub-$100 iPhone model on the Verizon side of the fence. From that standpoint the Verizon iPhone 4 won’t likely be discontinued until mid 2012.