An Apple Keynote Worth Forgetting…and Revisiting
I must begin this post with a warning: I initially wrote this article directly after the iPhone 4S keynote. As you may come to see, my emotions were raw, as I was slightly disgruntled, to say the least. Nevertheless, I wrote and wrote, until suddenly, I decided to stop and breathe.
Count me in as somebody who fell for all of the iPhone 5 rumors that have persisted since…well…the iphone 4 was released nearly a year and a half ago. As I followed along with some of the live blogs at today’s Apple keynote, I was extremely surprised and disappointed when all that I got was an iPhone 4S.
Let me start my rant with a pretense: the iPhone 4 is a great phone. Even with the release of the new iPhone 4S, the 4 will remain one of the most popular phones in the history of mobile phones (aside from maybe the Razr). Internally, a great phone. Aesthetically, very pleasing. Economically, on par with comparable phones. All in all, the iPhone 4 was fantastic.
Now…the new iPhone 4S. Clearly, an iPhone 4 on steroids. It puts up some great specs that allow it to throw down with some of those other big boys bedazzled with ‘4G’ speeds. That in itself, is worthy of a new phone. In terms of its external design, it went identical to the iPhone 4 (more specifically, for the CDMA version). Again, a solid choice given how beautiful a device the 4 was. Alright so beautiful exterior? check. Crazy fast interior? check. Awesome OS? check.
Well this all sounds fine and dandy and worthy of a new phone, right? Wrong.
When Apple revamps their existing products (see: Macbook Pro), they don’t add an ‘S’ to it simply because they made it faster. These sort of updates happen all the time, but that’s all they are…updates. What makes this iPhone 4S so much better that it receives an additional letter behind its name? I was never a fan of the name of the iPhone 3GS, and now the same can be said here. Adding an ‘S’ seems like a pretty cheap way out. What does it even stand for? Apple claims ‘speed’. Okay…great. You made a faster phone. So what? That is EXPECTED of you. As time goes on, components get cheaper, and so you replace older, slower components for newer, faster ones all while keeping the price the same. That seems like a pretty common theme in technology, yet for some reason you deem it appropriate to call something entirely new, when it simply is just an update.
As I continue to write this and think more and more about what just happened today, I am realizing something. I’m not frustrated with the product itself. It is a great product through and through. What really frustrates me is the huge opportunity that Apple has missed.
It has been about 18 months since the release of the initial iPhone 4. One year rolled by, and not even a whimper from Apple about a new iPhone. This is a very un-Apple like move, shifting off of their standard 1-year refresh cycle. The general public was a bit confused, but life went on (barely), as people questioned what Apple had up their sleeve. Would they skip out on this entire year and push out the iPhone 5 in the Spring of 2012 (still a, yet unlikely, possibility)? Did they have some supply issues and are in turn forced to release the new iPhone a bit behind schedule? Was Apple going to completely get rid of the iPhone, stuff it inside a 7” iPad, and create that new “hook up” between the iPad and the iPhone, and call it the ‘iDo’? (Okay, that last one was a not so funny joke, but you get my point) So over this past summer, some rumblings finally starting making their rounds on the good ole’ internet.
The ‘Teardrop’ iPhone 5
The ‘Awkwardly-colored Home Button’ iPhone 5
The ‘Now you see me, Now you don’t’ iPhone 5
(aka The ‘Troubled Photoshop’ iPhone 5)
Suffice to say, people got a bit invested in all of these rumors. One very ambitious man even created his own prototype!
I must say, this was especially impressive.
Regardless, there was so much insane hype about something that we are now forced to wait even longer for.
As I’m sure you saw while reading this, I was a bit agitated. Because of that, I stepped back and decided to wait a couple days. As I’m sure you’re aware, waiting those couple of days meant waiting until the passing of Mr. Steven P. Jobs. I was taken aback, and never got around to finishing this piece. I rejoin you now, written today, another look back on the iPhone 4S release.
So over a month has passed since the iPhone 4S’ original announcement. I will tell you this, I am just as annoyed with the name as I was before. But I will go on to finish my point.
On that October 4 day, Apple let down a lot of people by only releasing an upgrade to their existing phone, as great as it was. Personally, I thought everyone was going to be so upset that Apple would sell a total of 14 devices and go bankrupt and never make another device. I did forget one key point, though…the fact that Apple has this world in the palm of its hand. When they come out with a new device, whatever it may be, people will buy it. So yes, the iPhone 4S had a spec jump and no aesthetic changes, so people bought it! In fact, they bought A LOT.
After this keynote, I was pretty skeptical as to whether Siri would really be something useful. While I have not had the chance to try it out, the numerous videos online show that it actual is a handy voice recognition system - one which doesn’t require you to talk like a computer to communicate with a computer. I was also a bit befuddled over the fact why Siri was not part of the iOS 5 update for the iPad 2, considering it has very similar specifications (including the same A5 processor) as the iPhone 4S. Apple has also announced that Siri will not be making it’s way to older iOS devices. Why would Apple withhold such a cool new feature from so many of their users. But then it hit me…it’s because they need a reason for people to actually buy the new 4S! If they gave Siri to every user via a free download, I’m sure they would have lost a significant number of iPhone 4S sales. Although Apple has boatloads of money, this is not something they are willing to risk.
So…maybe there were some supply chain issues leading Apple to delaying the iPhone 5, and in turn releasing only an updated iPhone 4S. But with what they did have, I must say Apple has done it yet again. They created sales where sales maybe didn’t even belong.
All that aside…this still is not the iPhone 5. It doesn’t have 4G speeds. It doesn’t have a new design. It doesn’t have many remarkably new features not already available on other iOS devices. So even though the Consumer Reports recommends the iPhone 4S, I think I will be holding off on the iPhone 4S until the imminent release of the iPhone 5. And hey! I’m guessing the iPhone 5 will have Siri!