Despite the wealth of commentary regarding the less-than-abundant changes coming to the iPhone 5, preorders for Apple’s next iPhone have topped 2 million units within the first 24 hours of going online. To put that in perspective, that’s within hailing distance of twice as many preorders that were placed for last year’s iPhone 4S.
This news is important for two reasons:
- It means delays for iPhone 5 shipments, as preorders have exceeded projected numbers.
- It highlights the importance of marketing over substance. That’s not to say that the iPhone 5 has no substance, but there are some interesting comparisons between the iPhone 5 and iPhone 4S launches that can be made.
iPhone 5 Delays
The phrase “iPhone delays” and variations thereof should be a common one by now to anyone who’s ever paid attention to tech news. Unfortunately, it’s one that seems doomed to repeat, as many iPhone 5 hopefuls will not be receiving their new gadgets until early October. It’s not a big wait in the grand scheme of things, but any delay can be frustrating when you’ve been waiting months for a new handset.
Apple’s Marketing Machine
We’d like to say at the outset that we’re not suggesting that the iPhone 5 is boring or of low-quality. We understand the elegant simplicity of iOS and, truthfully, most of the folk here own one or more Apple devices themselves. What we find intriguing about the iPhone 5 launch is not that it sold so many units within the first 24 hours, but that it so far outstripped the iPhone 4S.
Cast your mind back a year ago to the launch of the iPhone 4S. Apple fans and tech blogs alike were busy ranting about how disappointed or ‘let down’ they were because they’d been given a 4S when they wanted a 5. The lack of new aesthetic design was a key complaint that was used as a launching point to highlight the ‘minimal’ upgrades from the iPhone 4 to the iPhone 4S.
Now, however, the iPhone 5 has launched to fanfare and cheering crowds. It’s outstripped every sales record of Apple’s that it’s come in contact with so far and it hasn’t even hit shelves yet. Apple’s stock has now also hit a new record of $US700, although those figures are likely to drop again after the initial iPhone 5 hype has died down.
So what’s so great about the iPhone 5 in comparison to the iPhone 4S? It has a bigger screen, certainly. It also sports an upgraded CPU and other minor updates across the board. It also has a ‘new’ design that some Apple fans seem desperate to see as sleek and fresh, despite the uncanny similarities between it and previous models.
Other than the larger screen, the iPhone 4S boasted the same kind of superiority over its predecessor. The single-core CPU of the 4 was upgraded to a dual-core on the 4S. The 5MP camera saw a bump to 8MP as well as incredibly increased shutter speed. iOS 5 brought a tonne of cool updates to both general UI functionality as well as overall app support that added a wider variety of experience.
Then, of course, there was Siri. Siri might not have turned out to be all it was originally cracked up to be, but no one knew that when the original iPhone 4S misgivings were rolling in. As far as anyone knew back then it was the world’s first fully-functional native-voice app with more than a few owners referring to it as ‘being like magic’.
The iPhone 5 has the same upgrades, except for instead of introducing Siri it’s simply introducing a screen that’s been enlarged by 0.5 inches. Of course there are other updates, there always are. But the rest of them seem like simple tech evolution, just like the majority of tweaks introduced by the iPhone 4S. As a matter of fact, you look carefully at a lot of the updates arriving with the iPhone 5 (Siri Updates, larger screen, turn by turn, face detection, photo-capture while taking videos, improved battery life, LTE) you’ll note that these can all be found on other market-leading devices, some of which have been out for months already.
We can’t help but feel that the main thing the iPhone 5 brings to the masses, at least in terms of why its preorders and projected sales so far outstrip those of the iPhone 4S, is its name.
The moniker 4S gave the impression that it was nothing more than an upgraded 4, which is exactly what it was. On top of that, the iPhone 4S introduced the world to Siri; a service so popular that it has spurred every other major manufacturer and developer to try their hand and their own native talk functionality. Just look at Samsung’s S-Voice or the new voice search options coming in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.
In contrast, the name ‘iPhone 5’ makes it sound as if it’s an entirely new device, despite it essentially being just one more step forward in what is sure to be a long line of best-selling and solid smartphones. The iPhone 5’s major contribution is introducing Apple fans to a larger screen, a feature that we already mentioned can be found on other handsets. The larger screen is more of a reaction to new market standards that were introduced, for the most part, by the last two generations of high-end Android and Windows Phone devices. So where we had a market-changing introduction with the iPhone 4S through Siri, the iPhone 5 is more of an example of a reaction to outside forces already at play within the global mobile market.
Once again before all the accusations of “Apple Hate” or “Android Fanboyism” start rolling in we want to reaffirm that we are excited about the iPhone 5. Perhaps not as much as some, but the levels to which some Apple fans love their smartphone is beyond even our ability to match. Our main point is that we were around equally excited for the iPhone 4S, possibly even more. Yes, we found the lack of new design a let-down and were hoping for a little more from the 4S, but we feel a similar mix of excitement and disappointment with regards to the iPhone 5.
While we like the sound of the new features and are happy to see the larger screen, we feel like this is now two iPhones in a row (the iPhone 4S and the iPhone 5) that, while certainly advancing the iPhone line, haven’t really wowed us with a sexy new look and new experience that we know Apple is more than capable of.
Ultimately we’d just like people to note the similarities between the last two iPhone releases and compare them to their public reception. The iPhone 5 is a great example over how a rose by any other name doesn’t necessarily always smell as sweet. Sometimes, while it’s not all in a name, the importance that we ourselves give to an product’s title can affect our perception of it just as much as what that same product actually offers.