Thursday, October 6, 2011

iphone 4S - gem or dud?

Apple announced the iPhone 4S yesterday.  There was so so much speculation and hype.  People are making money making fake news (speculation) about what Apple might be doing.  This is the first recent time I have successfully ignored the hype and just waited to hear what was coming from Apple.  I think because of this I view this launch differently than some people who have been swimming in the stream of the launch.

I have had a concept I call "packaging" in my business life practically since it started.  I worked at Atari testing games way back when.  Some games had good packaging.  It meant that the graphics, music, story, difficulty level, and everything worked so well together that the product could sell itself.  This kind of packaging is what Apple does.  They take services others might offer but puts them together in ways that end up with unique value.

Iphone 4S highlights:
  • Sprint as a new carrier - good for stockholders and Sprint customers.  Maybe Sprint too.  The reputed contract to guarantee purchase of tens of millions of units is really great from this perspective.
  • Dual core faster CPU - predictable and needed improvement that nonetheless is spectacular
  • Better camera - Apple keeps a strong focus in this area.  It is indeed important to people.  I think this will have more value over time than people realize
  • Siri personal assistant - talk about packaging!  By leveraging "the cloud" when needed, the product can be very useful in a way not easily replicated by others.  I look forward to using these features
IOS5 will be out as well - making existing iPhones interestingly better, and making the 4S stand out that much more.

It is not really about any one of these features.  It is about the complete package.  It works well, it feels good.  I can buy apps and enjoy them.  I can use built-in features.  Everything keeps getting more and more convenient as a whole.  For example (AT&T network only) I can be on the phone and use my cellular data plan at the same time.  I always wanted that, and I have it.  I get to keep it but get more and more added on....

People have started comparing the 4S to other phones (Android-based) with some better specifications like better front camera, bigger screen, 3D cameras, and more.  However, these phones are made by one company, the OS is from another company, and they use the old cellular carrier model and have a software/service footprint from the carrier too.  They end up feeling to me like a bit of a hodgepodge with one step in the old way of doing things.  Do people really demand and need any specific feature on other phones not on the 4S now?  Apple clearly does not think so.

I believe the nay sayers are very interested in their loud voices, but Apple's iPhone 4S will be bought by tens of millions and be a gigantic success in the marketplace.  The nay sayers will be largely forgotten.

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