iPhone 4S

Huh?

We waited this long for this?

It’s like Toyota revealing its new Camry looks just like the old one, but is totally new under the hood, and they’re calling it the Camry S.

It’s a great phone. State of the art. The chip is faster, the camera’s amazing and Siri is like nothing else, assuming it works…

But the packaging sucks.

Phones are fashion statements. If the form factor were different, these things would be gobbled up like M&M’s, every hipster and MacHead would need one, instantly. But now you can fake it. You can use an old phone and no one will know the difference. Hell, who doesn’t use a bumper obscuring the name anyway?

Maybe Apple is breaking new ground here, just like they wrested control of the handset from the providers. Maybe from now on out, there’s no change in form factor. Kind of like the aluminum MacBooks. Only the insides change, you buy one when you need one…

But most people don’t buy phones because they need them, they buy them because they want them. And everybody wanted the iPhone 5, but it’s nowhere to be found.

Every year the Nano changes, for no good reason.

Then again, it didn’t change this year.

Is this evidence of a new Jobs-less Apple?

Then again, at least they refreshed the iPods on time.

New iPhones are supposed to come out in June. By missing the target and bunting instead of hitting a home run, it appears Apple’s been thrown out at first. It almost makes you want to wait until next June, when the 4G iPhone 5 finally arrives. I’ve waited this long, why not another nine months?

Yes, everybody was waiting.

Who on Verizon wanted an old phone. Why buy an iPhone 4 when your brethren have had it for the better part of a year over on AT&T! That’s why sales were beneath expectations, we were waiting.

And we wanted to lay down our cash and parade our wisdom, let our freak flag fly, showing we had the latest and the greatest.

But the joke’s on us. Everyone who bought one earlier was right, they win.

As for the presentation…

Tim Cook trying to be Steve Jobs doesn’t work, just like imitations don’t work in the music business. We want originals. Steve can go on hyperbole and we can handle it, when Cook employs Jobs’s lines, we wince. Either the company needs a new face or Cook has to be himself, whoever that is.

We’re not anti new people. We’ve come to love Phil Schiller. He’s warm in a way Jobs is cool. He’s an insider, but he will still be our friend.

Now I’m not saying the iPhone 4S will be a failure. Conventional wisdom is always wrong with Apple.

At some point you need or want a new handset, and if you don’t get an iPhone, you’re a hater. Because iPhones are superior to Android handsets, and they’re the only competitor.

But they make those Android handsets look so sexy, with bells and whistles and all kinds of extraneous gobbledygook. Mercedes-Benz makes it on being stately, but even they update the way their cars look, and they’ve been playing it so safe that BMW and Audi are eating their lunch.

Yes, consumerism has become fashion. We first realized this when women who’d never deign to drive off road bought four wheel drive Explorers. They overpaid for capabilities they’d never use, inconvenienced themselves, driving trucks too tall with heavy handling. But they kept on buying them. Even after people got killed in them. You’ve got to look cool.

Just like those people who lease Priuses. Explain that to me again? You’re leasing a hybrid? They only make economic sense if you keep them, if you continue to drive them. But no, you overpay to look cool.

We overpaid to look cool with Apple for decades.

But now we’re scratching our heads. Because we’ve still got to pay high prices and we look like the last one to get the memo.

As to giving the 3GS away for free, that’s what it’s worth. Samsung and LG and the rest of those handset manufacturers making contract phones for providers don’t use the same form factor year in and year out, they change it. So even though you’re broke or cheap it looks like you’re state of the art.

But if you’re an iPhone 4S owner, you’re one step behind the curve.

Now this is not like the introduction of the 3GS. That was eons ago, two years is a lifetime in mobile. Hell, two years ago BlackBerry was king and Android was unheard of. Apple was a niche player, now they’re playing for all the marbles. Poorly.

Maybe Steve could have spun this right.

Maybe someone at Apple could still spin this right.

But who would that be?

Didn’t anybody at Apple know we were going to be disappointed? Couldn’t anybody have managed expectations? All this secrecy…for what?

But it happens at a good time.

We can still believe in the old Apple. The one Steve Jobs drove from the cliff to the most valuable company in America.

As for the new enterprise…

Leaders matter. As does personality.

It comes down to people.

And to lead you’ve got to be on the cutting edge. You’ve got to have instincts for what the public wants, you’ve got to be one step ahead, you’ve got to inspire belief.

Steve Jobs did all that.

But those days appear to be gone.


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