While Apple did “move the bar” today with the announcement of the iPhone 4GS, I believe it was more evolutionary then revolutionary in terms of iPhone and the smart phone market. I doubt anyone was surprised with any of the “highs” of today’s presentation at Apple. Apple aficionados like myself expect more because that what makes Apple different for every other tech firm on the planet. Now if Steve Jobs walked out on stage around 2:20 and said, “Tim, I got ‘one more thing….’” and handed CEO Tim Cook the iPhone 5 and then walked back off the stage, we would have been talking about that for the rest of the year.
Beyond the disappointment of no iPhone 5, the new voice control system called Siri is a major bonus (although just in beta at the moment and only available for iPhone 4GS) that will keep iPhone ahead of its competitors by changing the way people communicate and interact with their mobile phones (e.g., apps, phone calls, calendar features, etc.).
From a marketing strategy perspective, the biggest news was the announcement of the iPhone “family” of product offerings: from the free 3GS, a $99 iPhone 4, to the two higher-end price points for the 4GS ($199 for 16GB, $299 for 32). I fully expect Apple to see strong market share gains because iPhone is now targeting both the low end and the higher end of the overall cell phone market. Couple that with adding a third carrier, Sprint, here in the US, Apple is building a fortress that will be difficult for the competition to topple.
On a final note, Apple did a poor job “managing expectations.” Apple did little to quell the rumors of iPhone 5 and much of the news yesterday/today as well as the stock were down overall. All Apple needed to do was send a back channel message to an influential reporter like Walt Mossberg of The Wall Street Journal two or three days in advance, therefore, tempering any expectations of something “incredible” happening yesterday. Think about it this way. Apple knew they do not have one of those magical – ‘one more things…’ up their sleeve AND this was going to be new-CEO Tim Cook’s first dog & pony show on is own. Let’s just say, for Apple’s standards, they probably would have like to have yesterday as a do-over.