Apple is known for touting their “big event” announcements.
They like to unveil new technology in style. A CEO dressed usually in a turtle neck and jeans (Steve Jobs always looked like the best boss) standing in front of a modern looking Keynote Presentation (you can bet it wasn’t made on powerpoint).
The announcement was always anticipated, rumors floating around as to what next great technology the company would unveil. Today’s event was no different. Rumors were abound that Apple was ready to unveil the iPhone 5, the next generation of their hugely popular iPhone series.
I even had a friend matter-of-factly this week tell me “Apple is announcing the iPhone 5 Tuesday.” As if it was a done deal.
Done deal it was not.Apple threw a curve ball, and instead of announcing a new phone, announced a kinda-sorta newer-ish phone. Behold the iPhone 4S.
Gee, looks a lot like an iPhone 4…well, that’s because it basically is. No hardware changes at all, very limited software changes (with the exception of Siri) and no UI changes.
So what’s new?
Good question – basically it is faster. Dual core processor, more RAM, a new camera, and some more integration with the cloud. But let’s be honest, the cloud service isn’t even really competitive. You can store iTunes purchased music for free (just like Amazon), but any other music you have to pay $24.99/year, compared to Amazon’s $20/year (plus with Amazon’s paid plan you get 20GB of free cloud storage for whatever else you’d like).
Wow, that’s a disappointment.
Yes it is.
Apple has been known for revolutionizing markets and industries. I’m a Droid user, but I’ll freely admit that the iPhone made Droid phones possible. Apple invented the modern smart phone (let’s be clear, they didn’t invent the smart phone, just made it better). They continued to push the market by introducing the second and third generation iPhones. But after the fourth one…well, the market started leading them.
Apple and the phone market is kind of like a father teaching his son how to ride a bike. The father pushes the son along with training wheels on his bike, then he pushes him along with no training wheels, then he lets go. And before you know it that kid is 13 years old and is racing down the road at a pace twice as fast as his old man.
Apple pushed the smart phone market along with training wheels. It let go with the iPhone 3GS, and now that little smart phone market is riding alone, but a lot faster than Apple.Here’s the problem with the iPhone 4S – you could have bought the same phone, if not a better phone, on the Droid market about a month ago. There are several Droid phones to pick from, but the newest, and probably the best, is the Droid Bionic. I put together a side-by-side comparison (see right) – note the bold text are features I think are better in the head-to-head.
Among the major features I looked at, the Bionic wins four, the iPhone takes one, the rest is a draw. The iPhone 4S was just announced, it isn’t even in stores yet, however you could make the argument that it is already outdated.
The biggest drawback of the iPhone 4S is the lack of 4G. When you buy this phone you’re essentially buying it for 18 months – or until you can get a discounted upgrade – with 4G gaining momentum and becoming more mainstream, if you’re a serious smart phone user, you’d be crazy not to get a 4G-ready phone. Why buy an iPhone when the Droid Bionic (and other Droid phones) have the same features, and then some, plus 4G? Answer: you wouldn’t.
Memory is also a lacking feature on the iPhone. Sure, it has 16GB, but what if that’s not enough. Fork over $100 more and you can double the space, buy a Droid Bionic (which is admittedly twice the price, but you can find it more heavily discounted) and you can upgrade your storage space via MicroSD for about $50.
The biggest leaps for the iPhone in its latest incarnation are the processor and the RAM – both of which you could have purchased on a Droid phone months ago.
Apple cannot keep announcing one phone a year and expect to successfully compete in the smart phone market. According to Nielsen they command 28% of the smart phone market, compared to Droid’s 43%. And among recent acquirers in the last three months, Apple is wooing 28%, while Android is swaying well over half (56%).
All this points to Apple falling behind Android, not just in market share, but in hardware. People like the latest and greatest, and when you’re releasing a new phone every year in a market that is advancing at twice that speed, you’re liable to fall behind.
Apple is use to be far ahead of the pact. In the tablet and laptop hardware world, they are nearly unmatched. It is precisely because of their superior hardware that they can get away with these grand announcements that are few and far between. However, in the smart phone world, they have a serious competitor. It is a faster moving market, and if they aim to stay steady at 28% market share, or increase that number, they would be wise to release new phones quicker and add more variety to their lineup.
Otherwise the next “major announcement” might just be another downer.