Apple did not announce a completely new phone, just a redesign of an old one.
For months - nay, years - tech pundits have been predicting an iPhone 5. It's the natural progression from the hugely successful iPhone 4. If I learned anything from Sesame Street, the number five comes after the number four after all. Apple wants to buck the natural sequence of numbers, apparently, by claiming that 4S is what actually comes next. The new handset bearing the 4S moniker looks the same on the outside, but has all new innards. Also, it will run on Sprint networks, joining AT&T and Verizon as wireless providers that iPhone users can blame when their expensive cell phone doesn't work.
The only aspect of the announcement made in Cupertino, California today on 4 Infinite Loop that was a pleasant surprise was the massive reduction in prices. You can pick up a 16GB version for $199 and 32GB for just $299 while a new 64GB model will set you back 4 big ones - $399. Fanboys can start preordering iPhone 4Ss on October 7th and Apple promises to start shipping them on October 14th. If you don't care about the latest technology, you will be able to get the iPhone 3 free of charge with most two year contracts while the regular iPhone 4 will only cost $99.
The new phone has some sweet specs with a dual-core A5 CPU paired with a dual-core GPU that increases graphics performance sevenfold. The wraparound antenna that plagued iPhone users with dropped calls has been revamped with a redundant system that will switch based on how the phone is held. The camera is boosted up to 8-megapixels and shoots 1080p video. Perhaps most impressive is that the speed of booting up the camera app only takes 1.1 seconds and sequential shots can taken half a second apart.
There's also a thing that let's you talk to your phone called Siri which pretty much assures that everyone sitting next to you on the bus will think you're crazy.
Even though the details of the iPhone 4S all sound great and the price drop coupled with more choice in service providers are all complaints that people have had with Apple (myself included), that's just not enough for Apple fans. The feeding frenzy for the iPhone 5 was reaching fever pitch as the day for the conference approached. With no completely new device to obsess over, the internet is disappoint.
It's also hard not to consider that this is the first major Apple announcement without Steve Jobs, who stepped down as CEO earlier this year. Is the new Apple all about not delivering what its fans crave? Or is the new guy Tim Cook asserting himself by saying that announcing products that people want is Jobs thing?
Either way, I expect Apple's stock to drop.