Apple is widely expected to announce an iPhone 5 at an event starting at 1 pm ET today. Along with the event comes the usual -- if not more -- speculation given to every product launch to what now stands as the world's most valuable company.
Here's a quick rundown of what could unfold at the event:
- The iPhone 5 is said to have the same $199 to $399 prices as the iPhone 4S.
- A leaked photo shows the iPhone thinner than its predecessors.
- The phone will work on the fast LTE networks around the world but won't be available by all carriers with those networkss, according to the Wall Street Journal.
- The device supposedly has a new, smaller charging cable.
As usual, little to nothing is known about the software because Apple has kept the devices under lock and key. Pictures of the hardware will float around the Internet and reporters will find out details from supply chain partners, but details of the user experience won't be known until the Apple event later Wednesday.
Analysts at J.P. Morgan believe eight million iPhone 5 sales in the U.S. in the fourth quarter could add one-quarter to one-half a percentage point to annualized GDP growth. This is a timing issue. The device will merely divert spending from one period to another or entice consumers to spend money on an iPhone 5 rather than, say, a vacation or a couple front-row seats to an arena concert. That is to say, if the iPhone 5 is going to help anything it will be Apple's bottom line and smartphone market share. Besides, the main thing that improves GDP is increased labor productivity (which can't really be helped by standing in line at the Apple store).
So what does it mean for the music business? The fact that I am writing about the iPhone 5 at Billboard.biz may lead readers to believe the device may have some impact on the music business beyond previous Apple devices. Well, yes and no. No in the sense that Apple probably isn't going to improve its iTunes market share just because it sold more iPhones in the fourth quarter. Apple already dominates digital music. But yes in the sense that a successful iPhone 5 will put even more distance between Apple and its smartphone competitors, give Apple an even larger share of smartphone profits and these events will allow Apple the luxury to spend more on R&D to launch more and better music services in the future. Happy shopping.