On Expectations and New iPhones

In a few hours, Apple is expected to unveil its new iPhone.

But the company hasn’t said that’s what’s planned, let alone what features and specs will be present on the new handset.

In a world full of sites like Mac Rumors, AppleInsider and Boy Genius Reports, it is hard to keep clear what’s been announced, and what’s been rumored so heavily that it begins to feel true.

This time around, it seems like the noise leading up to tomorrow’s event is even louder than normal. Stories about the iPhone 4S (and/or the iPhone 5) have been clogging up my feedreader for weeks. Even non-nerds have been asking me what I think about Apple’s new “teardrop” design.

It’s madness, plain and simple.

I understand why people are excited. Apple creates products people connect with, and people are ready for something new.

They expect something new.

Apple has released an iPhone every summer since 2007, except for this year. WWDC came and went with no new hardware.

Since then, many people have claimed — including myself — that Apple can’t release a spec-only update to the iPhone 4, since the device has been on the market for 16 months. It would be a let-down, a disaster, a failure.

This, of course, is just based on our own expectations. We expect that — given the extra time — Apple’s hardware team has whipped up something shiny and new, far removed from the iPhone 4s we’ve all been carrying around for so long.

Whatever Apple announces tomorrow, some people are bound to be disappointed. That’s what expectations do when they grow out of control. Apple doesn’t owe us anything — including an iPhone 5. Remember that as you pre-order your new phone tomorrow.