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Apple iPhone 5S: Golden Opportunity

Aug 19, 2013 (06:08 AM EDT)

Read the Original Article at http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=240160116


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With just three weeks to go until the big reveal, reports about what the next iPhone might feature are ramping up to the ridiculous. One of the more interesting ideas to come to light in recent weeks is the notion of a gold-colored iPhone. Apple may add a new shade to its iPhone lineup for the first time since white became an option.

The notion of a gold device first cropped up several weeks ago when some purported iPhone 5S components leaked across the Web. Last week, snippets of code suggested the same thing. Apple code has been known to contain strands of the truth long before products are revealed in full. Over the weekend, TechCrunch's M.G. Siegler claimed to have confirmed that a gold iPhone 5S will be a reality.

Here are some reasons why the idea of a gold-colored iPhone makes sense.

1. Competition

The smartphone market is not a black-and-white place. Apple has sold only black or white iPhones for years. That was a fine strategy back in 2010, but things have changed since then. Apple's competitors are increasingly using color to differentiate their products. Look at Nokia's line of Windows Phones, for example. Its Lumia devices are available in a wide array of colors. Same goes for HTC's Windows Phones. Samsung, too, is offering its flagship smartphone, the Galaxy S4, in at least four different shades. Motorola is allowing AT&T customers to customize the Moto X with dozens of color combinations. People are bored with black and white.

[ Smartphones top dumb phones for the first time. See Smartphone Sales Beat Feature Phones. ]

2. It's Easy

The iPhone 5 is made with aluminum that is anodized. According to iMore, black is by far the hardest color to anodize onto aluminum. By contrast, gold is among the easiest. The process to add gold coloring to aluminum involves a simple chemical reaction with some dye tossed in. In other words, Apple wouldn't necessarily be going out of its way to offer a gold-colored iPhone.

3. Demand

When it comes to iPhone accessories, gold is a popular color. In fact, it is among the most popular when it comes to cases and other adornments for Apple's smartphone, though not necessarily in the United States. Further, gold is highly sought after in the world's two biggest markets: China and India. If there's one thing Apple needs, it is to better court the places where it can grow the most.

4. Boredom with iPhone 5

Multiple reports over the course of the year have suggested that the next-generation iPhone will be more or less identical to the iPhone 5 in design and outward appearance. The screen, shape and size will be unchanged from the iPhone 5. This is a pattern into which Apple has fallen with its iPhone upgrades. If the iPhone 5S looks the same as the iPhone 5, it might not generate much interest with buyers. Spending hundreds of dollars on what amounts to a spec bump is not all that appealing. Most people know that if they wait for another year, Apple will have a brand new, and hopefully more appealing, piece of hardware for sale. Adding the gold option may provide just enough enticement to convince some buyers to upgrade this year rather than next.

Apple is expected to reveal the next-generation iPhone at an event on September 10.