There was a 1,000% jump in iPhone 5 chatter on Twitter heading into today's iPhone 5 press conference reveal of the new device by Apple SVP of worldwide product marketing Phil Schiller, according to Socialbakers.
So does the sixth version of its iconic smartphone since 2007, which goes on sale next week, live up to the hype — let alone add 0.5% to US GDP? Apple certainly thinks so, with its website calling it "the biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone." That's also a play on the fact that it's taller than the iPhone 4S, one of many new features coming to the iPhone.
“They have built a juggernaut,” commented Matt Murphy, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm that invests in iPhone app developers, to Bloomberg. “This is going to be an absolutely blowout, homerun product.”
As tipped by the huge, colorful signage hung over the weekend at the Yerba Buena Center in San Francisco, the iPhone 5 is all about its specs: it's not only taller, but 18% thinner and 20% lighter than the 4S, not to mention faster and more color-saturated, boasting a 4-inch display with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
The larger screen allows for six rows of apps on the screen, five on the “pages” plus a permanent single row along the bottom. The processor speed is double that of the previous version due to new "A6" chip and is Apple’s first smartphone with 4G-LTE network connectivity — about the same as the average U.S. home broadband connection and a feature already offered by rival Samsung Galaxy S III.
It also boasts a new iSight panorama camera and enhanced HD audio and video recording, with the ability to take crisper photos mid-video and noise-cancelling earphones and three audio inputs. It's also forcing Apple loyalists to adopt a smaller new dock connector (dubbed Lightning), a move that makes its old connectors obsolete. As Apple states on its website, "Soon many iPhone accessories will be Lightning compatible. But if you have one that depends on the 30-pin connector, you can still connect it to your iPhone 5. Simply use a Lightning to 30-pin Adapter (sold separately)."
Apple's iOS 6 software, which upgrades maps among other enhancements, will be available on Sept. 19 as a free software update. The new iPhone software also features tighter integration with Facebook similar to last year’s partnership with Twitter, while enhanced Siri features search sports scores and make dinner reservations.
Apple's celeb-friendly voice recognition feature is now chattier than ever: "With iOS 6, Siri understands more questions, knows more answers, and gives you a lot more to talk about. Ask Siri about sports scores and stats, where to eat, what movies to see — even ask Siri to make Facebook posts or tweet for you. And Siri is fluent in more languages, so it does more things in more countries."
The world's most valuable company also unveiled enhancements to iTunes and to iPod touch and iPod nano today, in addition to introducing new EarPods, but all eyes were on the new iPhone, especially in light of increasing competition. “Over 500 million Android devices have now been activated,” according to Hugo Barra, Director of Product Management for Android, blogging on Google+ that “1.3 million Android devices… are activated daily.” iPhone 5’s larger screen follows competitors Samsung, HTC and Motorola Mobility in the escalating $219.1 billion smartphone market battle and repositions Apple more firmly against Google’s Android.
In addition to a major uptick in the app ecosystem, extending from traffic and download volume to marketing costs, industry sources predict “that more than 20 million iPhone 5 units could flow into the system in coming months, with perhaps 8 to 10 million of them in just the last weeks of this month. Many of the iPhone 4 owners who did not go for the “S” last year will be looking to upgrade.”
Industry research firm NPD cautioned that iPhone 5 sales may be slower than anticipated in the U.S. due to a saturated market, while company critic Joe Wilcox wrote that “iPhone 5 is good time to assess my personal Apple boycott" over what he calls "patent bullying."
As for pricing and availability for Apple's new phone, which once again will be available in either white & silver or black & slate:
• iPhone 5 will be available in the US for a suggested retail price of $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model and $399 for the 64GB model. iPhone 5 will be available at Apple.com, Apple’s retail stores, and through AT&T, Sprint, Verizon Wireless and authorized resellers. iPhone 4S will drop to $99 and iPhone 4 will be available for free with a two-year contract.
• iPhone 5 will be available in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the UK on Friday, September 21, and customers can pre-order their iPhone 5 beginning Friday, September 14.
• iPhone 5 will roll out worldwide to 22 more countries on September 28, including Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.
Tell us: How will iPhone 5 impact Apple? Does it live up to the hype? Is it a game-changer? Post a comment below.