“Ladies and gentlemen, our presentation will begin shortly.” Those words brought the crowd at Apple’s Tuesday morning “Let’s Talk iPhone” event to the edge of their seats.
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It had been longer than normal since Apple had released the iPhone 4 (not including the Verizon iPhone 4). As the event started, the question was: iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, or both? And will we see a downsized (storage-wise) iPhone 4, as well, as the cheapest alternative.
Typically, Apple starts off a presentation with a complimentary pat on its back, and Tuesday was no different. What was different: for the first time, it was newly minted CEO Tim Cook giving the presentation.
Point 1: Compared to Windows 7, which took 20 weeks to reach 10 percent of the Windows install base, Lion reached that percentage in only two weeks. Of course, they didn’t say that Lion had a lot less computers to reach, but …
Point 2: Macs have 23 percent market share as of August, with about 58 million users globally.
Point 3: Over 300 million iPods have been sold since 2001, whereas “it took Sony 30 years to sell 220,000 Walkman casette players.”
Point 4: The iPhone 4 now makes up half of the overall iPhone market. 125 percent growth year-over-year for iPhone sales.
Point 5: iPad is up next. Educational, flight manuals for planes, and many more uses for the only tablet consumers seem to care about.
Point 6: Cook then said that iOS is now the number one mobile operating system, 43 percent compared to Android’s 33 percent. Apple was said to be using the July ComScore numbers, but those don’t line up. In that survey, as we recall, Android had 41.7 percent, and iOS had 27 percent. Even globally, many surveys show Android far ahead of iOS.
Of course, perhaps Apple extrapolated the data to include iPad.
Finally, Apple went into new products. iOS 5 will launch on Oct. 12. That’s a date that most have been pointing to. Most of this information was discussed earlier when Apple launched iOS 5, so we won’t discuss it here. iOS 5 gold master will be delivered to developers today.
The iPod nano will be $149 for 16GB and $129 for 8GB, which is a price drop. Hey, they have to do something, since the iPod touch is the most popular iPod (no news there), and a white version is coming (once again, no news there). Oct. 12, you can buy 8GB $199, 32GB $299, 64GB $399.
The big news came 55 minutes into the presentation. And as we predicted, there was indeed an iPhone 4S. It will sport an upgraded A5 chip, as expected. No mention was made of what S stood for, but it could be Speed as in the iPhone 3GS, or it could be spiffy, as some said snarkily.
As we expected, the iPhone 4S comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB storage tiers (with the last one being new), priced at $199, $299, and $399 respectively.
Unfortunately, Apple said the iPhone 4S, while a global phone, will not be 4G, but will have HSDPA instead, and doubled speed, to 14.4Mbps, up from 7.2Mbps. Yes, it’s upped from before, but it doesn’t even provide the HSPA+ support often called faux 4G.
The camera received an upgrade, as well, with an 8MP camera. However, they also added that face detection, 26 percent better white balance, and claimed faster speed to first picture than any of the Android devices they compared it to.
The antenna has changed, as well. The device has two antennas, and can “intelligently switch between the two antennas between transmit and receive.” Apple said it will lead to even better call quality, though many will remove the word “better.” It also looks like the current Verizon version, with the same basic slot placement.
The new camera sports 1080p video as well, and image stabilization, which could make it the first camera phone with image stabilization and noise reduction. Of course, it all depends on real world testing, which will come quite soon.
In case you were wondering, Apple also introduced Siri’s Assistant product. It’s now just called Siri, although most had been thinking it would be dubbed Assistant. We’ll see what Tom Cruise has to say about this (as one of his kids is named Siri, right?).
It appears to require Internet access, for dictation, at least. That would seem to be because it offloads the processing to Apple’s servers.
It’s a voice assistant app, but it’s sophisticated, and Apple purchased the company in April of last year. You can search with it, issue commands with it. It’s natural language, conversational, personalized, contextual and since Apple says it works with built-in apps, there’s an API. It’s being launched in beta. Bad news for iPhone 4 owners: Siri will only work on the iPhone 4S.
And: there was no iPhone 5. Instead Apple is keeping the iPhone 3GS, free on contract (8GB), while the iPhone 4 will be $99 on contract (8GB). However, Sprint did indeed get the iPhone 4S, for the first time. Apple did call the iPhone 4S “the most amazing iPhone ever.”
Hmmm. The stock did not reflect that, as Apple pricing plummeted as much as $12 per share during the presentation. It did recover, and was only down $2.10 for the day.
Here’s what we think, though. We know for a fact that the iPhone 5 “almost launched,” because we have a source who worked at Apple and who has close contacts with Apple, still (and despite what you may think, some of them are pretty loose-lipped).
According to the original source and a second one, as well, the iPhone 5 was very close to release, but our second source (also speaking to Apple contacts who are rather loose-lipped) said the beveled screen edge on the iPhone 5 was causing issues.
Now, Apple could either launch the iPhone 5 earlier than normal, or it could wait until a normal refresh cycle (although who knows what normal is, now?). Could Sprint still get exclusivity on the iPhone 5 when it launches, for at least a few months? Yes, it could, but it’s all a jumbled mess.
What is clear is that there is an iPhone 5, and it’s very close to release quality. We’ll see how it all hashes out.