The launch of the Apple iPhone 4S will no doubt disappoint many, after long-standing hype through the year about a much improved iPhone 5 model.
On the face of it, the cynical response is that the iPhone 4S is nothing but a “catch-up” device, bringing a few technical specs in line with competitors, not least in terms of processor and camera.
But the question worth asking is whether the iPhone has any competition at all.
While companies such as HTC and Nokia have released smartphones that aim to steal marketshare, in truth they have consistently underperformed by comparison.
Take the HTC Desire HD, which by all accounts should be a serious rival to the Apple iPhone.
However, it fails on a number of fronts, for example:
- basic plastic casing compared to the iPhone’s aluminium one
- poor battery life which means the Desire HD dies even on standby after just a couple of days, compared to the iPhone’s 200 hours standby time
- the Desire HD’s camera is supposed to be 8MP, but produces poor images which make the iPhone’s 5MP camera look consistently better
So now the iPhone 4S will be sold with similar specs to supposed rivals, it will easily outperform them.
The new user innovations brought via Siri, not least speech recognition technology for easier use, is just another example of where competitors fall down.
While HTC has especially sought to try and compete on specs, Google’s Android platform just is not as attractive as iOS.
Aside from the fact Google have produced and syndicated Android simply to hoover up user behaviour data for advertising purposes, Apple’s nurturing of its own apps mean that there is a wider, safer, more easily navigable choice and the whole environment is stronger.
So did we really need an iPhone 5 yet? Probably not.
While no doubt there would have been instant demand for a new iPhone 5 with a sleeker design and the hardware specs and software improvements the 4S delivers, it is plain that the iPhone 4 is still a strong and stable product that consumers are not tiring off.
Added to the fact that we’re still living in the worst financial crisis for a century, and that smartphone markets in Asia are main targets among all manufacturers, the idea of keeping steady with a solid dependable model makes more sense, than releasing an even higher price model.
Already there is a knock-on effect in terms of reduced pricing on earlier models, especially the iPhone 3G, but also the original iPhone 4, which will no doubt help widen their accessibility across consumer markets globally.
So Apple’s policy of launching only a 4S sounds like a safe and controlled expansion.
Those genuinely disappointed by the lack of an iPhone 5 need only console themselves with the fact that a new next generation device is inevitable at some point, but in the meantime, to ignore the hype that inevitably builds up before product releases.
In the meantime, the iPhone 4S is a solid device, offering everything and more than any rival device.
And, the big advance that few commentators are yet talking about, is the integral use of iCloud for distributed data protection, something no one else has even begun to compete with yet in the smartphone market.