Why disappointed Apple enthusiasts are missing the point

Fanatics may have wanted more but the strategy does make sense, says Salma Awwad
By Salma Awwad
Thu 12 Sep 2013 09:38 AM

On its humbler-than-usual September event, Apple didn't wow anyone. Tech news junkies were left unsatisfied as they didn't get their yearly futuristic mass; while investors will probably sit this one out and wait for more announcements and market reactions. So unless you were expecting a messianic Steve Jobs to rise from the dead and give a show in Cupertino, Apple's recent announcements do make sense.

Most media coverage focused on the two new devices being released: iPhone 5S and iPhone 5C. Apple's decision to split up its smartphone offering seemed to come as a surprise to many commentators. It does, however, follow the pattern of previous Apple best-sellers under Jobs. iPod, the first product to spark the company's renaissance in 2001, was followed by iPod Mini three years later and then the iPod Shuffle in 2005. The same happened with the iPad, which was followed by the 7-inch iPad mini two years after its introduction, and is expected to expand its offering in the future. The result has always been an exponential increase in sales figures. To sum it up, upgrading the iPhone 5 into iPhone 5S(uper) and offering the iPhone 5C(hina) is a viable strategy.

iPhone 5S isn't a quantum leap on the shelf, but it will offer the best user experience on the market for the next year. Apple's leadership in mature smartphone markets can only be asserted with the new iOS7 operating system. Apple is now capable to offer similar or greater software capabilities as main competitor Android but with greater design and system stability. Greater multitasking, added to artificial intelligence with an enhanced and more connected Siri voice activation system will contribute to its success. iOS is no longer for users to go in-app, complete a task, then go out of app to use another functionality. All of which is achieved by top-tier software design and a huge improvement in processing power.

Apple's introduction of a 64-bit A7 chip in the iPhone 5S doubles the speed at which it handles data intensive apps. It is the first of its kind on a smartphone, and the most effective transition to true mobile computing to date. It will encourage app and game developers greatly, and will probably be introduced to the iPad series making them perfect game terminals. This is so significant it might actually kill Nintendo! Along with other announcements, it all tightens the grip of Apple over the premium market with its larger markets.  iRadio consolidates Apple's position as the world's largest music retailer and the headline-grabbing fingerprint recognition function increases iOS security for government and corporate clients and offers quicker in-app and iTunes purchases.

As for iPhone 5C, the lower-end device, disappointment of current iPhone fans is a very good sign for the firm: it means that the risk of cannibalisation and internal competition with higher-end iPhone models can be ruled out. The C probably stands for China, the world's largest and fastest growing smartphone market; and one where Apple has been struggling and has recently seen its shipments drop. This is the most worrying aspect of Apple's event. Analysts were expecting a partnership announcement with China Mobile, the country's largest carrier boasting 700 million subscribers. With the high price tag of $549 for an entry-level product, device sales will heavily depend on carrier subsidies. So Apple's real challenge will be to convince Asian carriers, especially in China, to offer iPhone 5C on contract at an affordable price. If that is accomplished, Apple shares should be soaring again and it seems like a much better strategy than offering clunky half-finished products of every size and shape.

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