Apple Inc.'s Let's talk iPhone event on Tuesday wound up as a Let's Keep Guessing About iPhone 5 event, with Tim Cook showcasing just an improved version of the iPhone 4, dubbed the iPhone 4S, rather than the much talked-about new phone with a revolutionary design and a larger display.
Divining Apple's strategic reasons behind the stunning decision to go with only an updated version of the iPhone 4 sixteen months after its launch may be good exercise but the moot question is, when Apple will finally launch the iPhone 5.
Several analysts, over the past few months, have said that a complete update of the iPhone will not be released until well into 2012.
Analyst Keith Bachman of BMO Capital Markets said, in June, that the all-new iPhone 5 will arrive only in 2012. We believe the iPhone 5 will launch in mid-2012, Bachman had written in a note. His prediction has turned out to be correct.
Deutsche Bank analyst Chris Whitmore kicked up a storm in June, by predicting that Apple will launch a cheaper iPhone 4S in September.
The iPhone 4S announced on Tuesday flaunts hardware updates like a better processor and an improved camera, while the design and form factor of the device have remained identical to the iPhone 4.
IB Times wrote in a June article: The reality is that for a radical new iPhone, it's a wait until 2012 while a fall release of a new iPhone version loaded with iOS 5 can play catch up with the competition.
What if Apple is waiting until 2012 to launch a fully revamped iPhone 5? The argument is that such a move would have been suicidal, considering that several handset makers are unleashing Android-based phones that rival iPhone 4 in features and specifications.
For example, it was argued that Google's Nexus 4G would have all but annihilated the iPhone if Apple had decided to go ahead with the old iPhone 4. And there is the whole lot of purported iPhone killers like Droid Bionic, Photon 4G and Samsung Galaxy S 2.
So, the iPhone 4S, which was announced on Tuesday, has offered incremental improvements over the existing model to appease the fanbase, which would otherwise have seethed in anger at seeing the Android breed taking the driver's seat in the smartphone market.
Apple must have found it difficult to contend with the allegation that most rumored iPhone 5 features are already on Android OS-based devices. So why not at least give a chance to iPhone enthusiasts to get on an even keel with the Android phones by moving to an incrementally upgraded iPhone?
Now that the wraps are off Apple's iPhone strategy in the short-term, analysts are veering round to the belief that a wholly revamped iPhone will certainly see the light of day soon.
Apple took the wraps off of the iPhone 4S, the phone we originally thought was going to launch but then we (like the rest of the Street) got our hopes up for a redesigned iPhone 5, Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies, said in a note to clients.
CNET said in a report on Tuesday that Apple is holding off on iPhone 5 until the 4G LTE technology is ready. The report quoted an industry expert as saying that an LTE iPhone 5 could be launched in spring.
They're saving iPhone 5 for the LTE version and that won't be out until next spring, the report quotes Will Strauss, President of wireless chip market research firm Forward Concepts, as saying.
From very early on, industry experts were skeptical about Apple's chances of rolling out an LTE version this year. One reason was chipset supply issues and another was a worldwide lacunae in the implementation of the LTE network, which is seen as the standard for mobile communications in future.
Also, there were reports that Apple was unhappy with the first generation LTE chipsets from Qualcomm that would make phones bulkier. Analysts have said an iPhone-friendly LTE chipset would probably only come in 2012.
Apple's then stand-in Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook, had said in April that the first generation LTE chipsets forced a lot of design compromises with the handset and that the company was not willing to make those compromises.
iPhone 4S Features
Apple has certainly not bungled up on the iPhone question. Most Apple fans are underwhelmed by the lack of an altogether new phone on the block but analysts say iPhone 4S is no stop-gap device. ... despite looking almost exactly like its iPhone 4 predecessor, the 4S is a hardware dynamo with upgraded specs and features in every category, many of which had been rumored for the iPhone 5 instead, Bill Palmer wrote in BeatWeek.
The iPhone 4S will be available Oct. 14 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.
iPhone 4S offers Apple's A5 dual core processor (as in iPad 2) and its camera resolution and sharpness have been nearly doubled. Among the most touted feature of the 4S is its 8-megapixel camera, which performs better in low light than the iPhone 4 and offers more vibrant colors.
One of the highlighted iPhone 4S features is Siri, the in-built voice recognition software, while the iCloud rollout allows users to access their music, photos, apps, contacts, calendars, documents via the Web and sync them across their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac or PC.
But what about tear-drop design, edge-to-edge display, 4-inch screen, NFC and whole lot of other features iPhone fans were rooting for?
IB Times wrote in June: ... Until Apple unleashes something more radical and revolutionary than the projected iOS 5, coupled with a totally made over iPhone model, it wouldn't have dealt the sucker punch to the growing army of Android OS-bases devices. That's what iPhone fans badly want too.
The game is still on. Apple has done the catching-up with the Android breed of killer smartphones but the signature Apple act of dominating the smartphone market once again will take some more time to unfold.