New Apple CEO Tim Cook began his first product launch on Tuesday at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino by trumpeting all of his company’s successes, but after almost an hour of self-promotion and smaller updates, Apple unveiled its latest iPhone, the 4S.
As recently as a few weeks ago, many Apple followers had expected an announcement of the iPhone 5, but recent indicators suggested consumers would get a more modest update. It ended up somewhere in between, and the news actually leaked first on a Japanese retail site.
Aesthetically, the iPhone 4S looks identical to the iPhone 4, but internally it is brand new. Thanks to a new chip already present in the iPad 2, the new iPhone runs seven times faster.
“Despite competitors trying really hard to copy the iPhone,” said Phil Schiller, Apple’s Senior Vice President for Worldwide Product Marketing. “They just haven’t been able to do it.”
The iPhone 4S will be available Oct. 14 on Verizon, AT&T and a new addition, Sprint. It will also come with a new camera system, improved battery life and, as expected, a voice control system named "Siri."
For now, it appears Siri will be limited to specific commands, but don't let that fool you, since it has the capability to understand quite a lot.
Want to schedule events or read text messages? It can do it for you, so long as you direct it — no hands required. You can ask whether you need a raincoat, and what time it is in a foreign city. And you can set an alarm.
All of this voice capability is bound to leave some uneasy. When Schillar asked Siri "Who are you," it responded "I am a humble personal assistant.”
Still, many of the tech writers in attendance seem to have been very impressed.
Apple also priced these new phones quite aggressively, offering the 16 GB for $199, the 32GB for $299 an the 64GB for $399.
While the phone was the big news of the day, much of the program was dedicated to other new products.
Schillar announced a slate of updates to the iPod Nano and iPod Touch, while Scott Forstall, Senior Vice President of iPhone Software, unveiled the latest update to Apple’s operating system, iOS 5. It will become available on Oct. 12 and offers more than 200 new features, including the Apple Newstand.
The Newstand gives publishers like the New York Times, Conde Nast and National Geographic a special home for their portable publications.
While the lack of an iPhone 5 may be disappointing to some, Cook made it clear from the start that Apple feels pretty confident about its achievements. He announced the continued expansion of Apple stores, the robust sales figures for Apple products and the strong reviews most things with the Apple-logo have garnered.
The market did not immediately share Cook's optimism, as Apple's stock is down almost five percent. Still, that is not all that unusual for a company announcing new products.