“Instant Analysis”: How the iPhone 5 Will Change Your Mobile Strategy

iPhone 5 and the changes in mobile strategies.

If you’re developing a new iPhone app, the biggest question on your mind probably isn’t whether you’re going to order the black or the white one, but what the new features (or lack of them) mean for you and your mobile strategy. Here’s our “instant” analysis on the detailed impact of today’s announcement.

Immediate Concerns:

Multiple Device Sizes: Apple just doubled the number of iPhone device sizes you have to think about when you’re building a new app or refreshing an old one. The iPhone 5’s screen is an 1136 x 640 pixel retina display, and apps will display in letterbox format on the iPhone 5. While Apple claims that developers can update their apps “very quickly”, that doesn’t seem like a realistic claim for all apps. Games are an obvious example, but anything that features interactivity, motion, or important visuals extending to the edge of the screen will likely require more than a quick update to take full advantage of the larger screen.

Backward Compatibility: Similarly, developers building new iPhone 5 apps will have to consider backward compatibility as well. Apps designed for iPhone 5 won’t be fully compatible with iPhone 4 as written. We’ll have more shortly on how this will impact which version of apps will be available in the App Store on which phones.

No NFC: Apple’s approach to “wallets” is iOS 6’s Passbook feature, which uses standard bar codes rather than radio signals to allow vendors to capture information. Apple is taking advantage of the millions of bar code readers in the retail ecosystem, which makes implementation hurdles much lower. By steering clear of NFC in the iPhone 5 Apple has made it significantly more difficult for NFC to catch on as a dominant technology by dramatically reducing the potential user base. That makes developing apps that support NFC much less appealing for the near future.

New Opportunities:

The iPhone 5 opens up significant new opportunities in areas like Enterprise Data and Gaming that were previously held back by bandwidth and chip speed.

LTE: Download speed are much faster than 3G and will enable data heavy applications that rely on the cloud to function much more smoothly. Better video streaming can now become an integral part of applications as well.

Chip Speed: The move from the A5 to the A6 chip is a major jump. Apple claims increased speed of approximately 2x, and the fact that showed off EA’s hyper-realistic Real Racing as their first publically demoed app demonstrates the importance of the new chip to gaming. The increased chip speed will also aid other graphic-intensive applications from education to medical.

Screen Size: The increased screen size cuts both ways. While it makes it more challenging to build apps that will work properly on all iPhones, the increased real estate will be a huge benefit to data rich enterprise apps, as well as games and entertainment.

Improved Colors: The iPhone 5 touts 44% more color saturation and improved color accuracy. E-commerce and product simulators are two examples of application areas that will benefit from the more accurate and realistic display.

We’ll have more on the release this week, including a review of the new opportunities the updated iPod line brings to mobile development.