Shira Ovide is a Bloomberg Gadfly columnist covering technology. She previously was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.
Apple is doing something unnatural today. For the first time, it is introducing an iPhone in the spring instead of in the fall. At an event scheduled for 1 p.m. Eastern Time, Apple is expected to show a new phone that will have the basic dimensions of the 2013 iPhone 5S but with some features and innards of newer models.
Apple hasn't said why it is releasing a new kind of iPhone. It may be pitching people who prefer a screen smaller than those on recent models like the iPhone 6 and its successors. The company may be trying to nudge people with older (sometimes very old) iPhones to trade up to new ones. A new phone now also props up sales in the next few months before the presumed introduction of the next iPhone.
What is clear is the iPhone debut comes at an awkward time for Apple. The company is in enviable financial health, but panic has set in among Apple investors. Sales of iPhones are expected to decline this year for the first time since the device went on sale in 2007. For a company whose fortunes are tied to the ebb and flow of iPhone sales, the downward trend means big trouble.
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