iPhone 4S a quiet revolution

Michael Carroll
06 Oct 2011

For the first time since 2007, Apple has given consumers little incentive to upgrade to its latest iPhone.

Existing users tell me there’s no compelling reason to rush out and buy the device when sales start on October 14, noting that the voice recognition feature is little more than a gimmick, and that they have little use of the faster speeds offered by the dual-core processor.

The launch was universally branded a let down due to pre-revelation hype, including the almost obligatory “oops, I left a prototype in a bar” moment and rampant speculation Apple would steal a march on its rivals by incorporating LTE.

However, that hype provides a valuable lesson for Nokia, which has rattled on about its Windows Phone 7 smartphone for much of the year. While the iPhone 4S may be imperfect in terms of Apple’s usual standard, it will still set the standard for its Finnish rival’s smartphone revival.

And while iPhone users might not rush out in their droves to buy the new device, there is little doubt it will sell. The vendor has already broadened the reach with new operators – KDDI in Japan and Sprint in the US - and the new model affords it the opportunity to drive previous iterations lower down the value chain.

That push is another warning sign for Nokia, which we all know has been relying heavily on its low-end devices to stem the flow of market share to rivals in recent years. Whereas before Apple was simply a competitor in the high-end business, the US firm will now take on established vendors in the low- and mid-tier markets.

In fact, that drive down the value chain should serve as a warning to all device makers. The likes of Samsung, LGE, HTC, ZTE and Huawei are all betting heavily on smartphones at present, leaving the door open for Apple to enter key emerging markets with lower-priced – even free – iPhones.

While the iPhone 4S launch hasn’t set the world on fire in the usual Apple way, it is perhaps a quiet revolution in its own way.

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