I’ve been reading and digesting much of the post Apple event news where they introduced their newest iPhone, the iPhone 4S. I’ve attended every major Apple product launch event since 2003. The last few years the media hype and anticipation around Apple product launches has reached astronomic proportions.
Even today post the event I am not surprised to see “disappointed” and “underwhelmed” in the headlines. It seems as though at every launch event for the past few years the question of “did they do enough” gets asked of me by the media.
The media, luckily for Apple, is not Apple’s target customer. In fact at the launch event Apple showed some very telling slides showing statistics that highlighted how much market share in every major personal electronics category is still left for Apple to gain. These slides tell the story of how Apple thinks about the market as a whole and how all their decisions are geared to grow their market share using product strategies that work.
When I look at the Apple’s current iPhone lineup with the 3GS being free with a new contract or the iPhone 4 being $99, I am convinced that now is as good of time as any for consumers to jump into the Apple ecosystem. However the 4S is now the flagship of the iPhone lineup.
The iPhone 4 is arguably the best designed handset in the cellular industry. In my opinion no handset on the market comes close to the iPhone 4 design. For this reason Apple didn’t need to change the design. In fact earlier in the year I argued that Apple didn’t even need to release a new iPhone this year and they would have still stayed the number one smart phone manufacturer. The iPhone 4 is that good so why fix what isn’t broken.
However they did improve on it and as a matter of fact they improved on it all the ways that make it even more useful than its predecessor. They made if faster both in terms of network speed and core performance. They gave it 7x better graphics which will make it one of the most impressive mobile gaming platforms graphics wise to date. They engineered a better antennae to make the phone download and upload data faster as well as deliver better sound call quality. They made the camera significantly better. They made a bunch of improvements that alone make the device attractive.
Apple is still attracting new iPhone customers at alarming rates. By offering the 3GS for free and the already amazing iPhone 4 for $99 and the iPhone 4S starting at $199 they have a very strong holiday lineup.
Design is important but it is only one part of the equation when consumers make buying decisions. The iPhone’s are still the leading objects of desire in the industry for the mass market.
One thing that seems to get left out, that I think is a very powerful point, is that by not changing the iPhone design new customers or those who upgrade will be able to tap into the already vast iPhone 4 accessory ecosystem. Consumers who buy the iPhone 4 or 4S will immediately find a plethora of accessories. This is a very attractive proposition.
Apple’s current tagline for the iPhone 4S is “Picking up where amazing left off.” That is fitting since they are still leading in the realm of handset design. The media may have expected more and the media may be disappointed however I am confident that actual consumers will be delighted with the iPhone 4S. And really that is all that matters to Apple.
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