There were few surprises when Apple unveiled new iPhone models at an uncharacteristically modest presentation Tuesday at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters.
The technology was in line with what the relentless rumour mill had been predicting for weeks: Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller called the device ”the most beautiful and stunning phone in the industry.”
Online reactions were fiercely split between starry-eyed Apple fan-boys and snarky adherents of rivals like Samsung.
The stock market was underwhelmed by the new products, which will decide the fortunes of the world’s largest consumer company for the next year or so. Apple shares jumped in anticipation of the launch but were down more than 2 per cent in the hours after the announcement to close yet again under the 500-dollar threshold.
Analysts identified a few key problems and opportunities with the new products.
The iPhone 5C was meant to be a cheaper iPhone designed to appeal to younger customers deterred by the high prices of the premium iPhone. It was thought to be aimed at the huge swath of customers in Asia who have been choosing cheaper iPhone rivals – most of them powered by Google’s Android operating system.
In China the phone will cost 4,488 RMB, or more than 735 dollars, just 130 dollars less than the premium iPhone 5S.
According to the website techinasia.com, the phone quickly became the butt of jokes in China. Wags on the social networking site Weibo quickly complained that ”the C stands for costly” while quips that the colourful new phone looks like ”an expensive potato peeler” were widely shared.
The iPhone 5S still misses what seems to most people to be the most sought-after attribute of a high-end new phone: a big screen.
But it did break new ground with the first 64 bit chip in a smartphone, and a new fingerprint-sensing security system could prove to be a hidden winner, according to Fast Company’s John Brownlee.
If the system works as touted, the 5S could be the most secure smartphone yet. Not only could users access all the Apple ecosystem with one button, more importantly, they may finally gain enough confidence to entrust their financial lives to the phone, so that it becomes a ubiquitous digital wallet.
”Each iPhone will be uniquely self-identifying and fraud-proof in a way that a credit card can’t be,” Brownlee said. ”Retail would jump at taking payments by iPhone, rolling out the infrastructure to do so and giving Apple a cut of real-world purchases.”
Still Apple will have to do better with its next major product launches, said Ian Fogg, director of mobile at research firm IHS Supply.
”The updates … are necessary for Apple’s success in the mobile handset market in 2013, but they are not sufficient for the longer term,” he said.
”Apple will need to innovate significantly in 2014 with both improved software and new iPhone hardware to counter the growing threat from Android smartphones and ensure that Apple’s mobile success continues.” (dpa)