Apple unveiled the iPhone 4S just a matter of days ago to a world pent up with techno-lust expectations ballooned from rumor mills. This is nothing new. Not only has this ritualist dynamic existed for years, it is literally engrained in culture now. One could say it’s part of Apple’s marketing strategy, even if indirectly. Mr. Jobs’ fingerprints are all over this phenomena. His sad and untimely departure will probably not diminish this effect for years to come. However, this same effect can serve to work against Apple from time to time. Were you disappointed being served up with the iPhone 4S instead of the much anticipated iPhone 5? Many people were – so much so, down-ish investor sentiment causes a drop in Apple’s stock based on this disappointment. That’s crazy.
Apple is going to sell the iPhone 4S hand over fist. AT&T has already sold a record-breaking 200,000 of them in 12 hours. That is nothing to scoff at by any measure.
The release of the 4S model seems to be largely muted by the fact the form factor and overall design has not changed to meet overwhelming expectation, and it would come as a shock to assume Apple was not aware this would be the case. One need look no further than the release of the 3GS model, which too was overshadowed by public expectation over the rumored iPhone 4. Reviews were mixed, while general public reaction was generally acquiescent to the significant upgrades under the hood. The 3GS went on to become one of Apple’s best selling products. This has all happened before. I tend to think Apple’s release of Siri beta is strategic beyond intention, as they must have known the iPhone 4S was not going to overwhelm anyone under the light of intense public focus on iPhone 5.
iPhone 4S Features
So, why an argument in iPhone 4S’s favor? If you take a look at it on paper, it has the makings of a stunning new product – Completely new in-house processing core (in this case, two) borrowed from the iPad 2, improved antenna design and technology, a re-engineering of the camera, and more. This is not just an upgraded iPhone 4, it’s almost a completely new device.
About the only major thing they did not address in this new model was the outside of it, which, to be blunt, is simply skin deep. Make no mistake, I would love to have been wowed with a sleek and sexy new model design. If Apple had release this lineup of technology inside a lithe, beautiful shell, it probably would have been hailed and celebrated as the revolutionary product everyone had baited breath over. We are emotional creatures, and Jobs had a profound understanding for this truth of the human condition. That is of course no small part of what has made products released under his careful scrutiny so wildly successful.
Arthur C. Clarke once penned ‘any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic’. Apple is not a shop of magic any more than Disney. It is made up of the some of the best talent in the industry, and produces computer and consumer products that seem ‘magical’. That word has even been used in some of their marketing. It of course is not magic, and they are a company that has to make prudent business decisions for their investments in current technology and product lifelines. There are some signs in the rumor mills that an iPhone 5 is in the works, so that device will eventual see the light of day, just as with the iPhone 4. However, the release of the iPhone 4S is not unprecedented, both in terms of business direction, public reaction, and company history.
In fact, it falls in line with the company’s product cycle. Apple must have invested significantly in the redesign of the iPhone 4, and they are probably not yet ready to abandon that. This makes business sense. If you look at how well the 3GS model did over the 3G, this sort of move is only re-enforced. This is a part of Apple’s business model. They do this with many of their products. In fact, the original iPhone was more of an exception to the rule, if you will. Even the original iPod enjoyed a follow-up release before being redesigned. One can even speculate that the iPhone 5 is months away from field testing, therefore the 4S was the right thing to do at this point in time.
Whatever the case may be, the iPhone 4S is here, and it is NO JOKE. If the faster processor, new antenna telephony, and near point-and-shoot quality camera technology were not enough, it ushers in a new technology that holds the promise of revolution – Siri. Mankind has dreamed of this sort of technology for decades. We are in an age where some of the technology of sci-fi past becomes the actual mainstream technology of today. The iPhone 4S is the product that will be delivering this to the world, and will forever be remembered for it. To say it is a well crafted refinement of it’s predecessor is an understatement. It is like a refined all wheel drive supercar in the body of a previous muscle car.
To be dismissive of the device based on appearance is as shallow as it is skin-deep. This is a direct result of the insane build-up of public expectation, and overlooks the powerful punch packed into it by the world-class talented team at Apple. We have yet to see what sort of issues crop up with this model, but it is a significant refinement of an already refined and stable model, which is usually a safe bet when it comes to consumer electronics. The A5 processor has been a proven success in the iPad 2. Everything else about the iPhone 4 is either the same or has been improved in the 4S. Sounds a lot like the 3G to 3GS, or Leopard to Snow Leopard, or core duo to core 2 duo, or G3 to G4, or Macintosh to Mac Plus, or Apple //c to Apple II GS…