Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

Summary: Whether you love Apple's iPhone 4S or hate it, the device is going to have more than its share of ripple effects in the wireless world.

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Apple's iPhone 4S launch has encouraged some consumers and discouraged observers looking for an iPhone 5. Nevertheless, Apple's iPhone 4S is going to have more than its share of ripple effects in the wireless world.

Whether the iPhone 4S is seen as a success or failure largely depends on whether it expands the market for Apple or is just seen as an incremental upgrade possibility.

Here's a look at the fallout and the winners and losers.

Winners:

Apple: Some critics---Forrester Research CEO George Colony to name one of many---have said the iPhone 4S represents a move from great to good. These observers wanted a 4G iPhone and perhaps a redesign. Apple overhauled the guts, but kept the core iPhone design intact. But let's get real here: The iPhone 4S will keep an upgrade cycle humming and show up at two new U.S. carriers in Verizon and Sprint. Toss in pricing---free with a two-year plan for the iPhone 3GS, $99 for the iPhone 4 and $199 for a starter iPhone 4S---and Apple will do very well for itself. Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster argues that there's pent up demand for the iPhone 4S at Verizon. Rest assured that demand is at Sprint too.

Verizon and AT&T: These carriers will get two to three flavors of iPhones at different price points. The upshot: The way Apple priced its iPhone line-up indicates that it is eyeing family plans. Carriers love family plans and Apple would love to have a range of devices to put mom, dad and the kids in its ecosystem.

Voice technology: Apple's Siri demonstration was impressive. If you take that voice capability and integrate it well, voice technology will move from slightly fringe to mainstream. Look for Nuance to benefit as a side effect from the move to voice.

Sprint: Sprint gets its iPhone and gets to keep its customers in the fold. However, the carrier is barely a winner due to the hefty premium it paid for the iPhone and the potential network challenges that will come with it. Apple's iPhone will make or break Sprint, which doesn't have the balance sheet to compete with Verizon or AT&T.

4G Android phones: Apple's decision to stick with 3G iPhones will give Android superphones more runway at Verizon, which actively promotes its Long-Term-Evolution devices. LTE has been a disappointment to me given coverage and a rough transition from 4G to 3G, but to many road warriors the fast access will matter even if the battery life is compromised.

The Great Debate: iPhone Yes vs. iPhone No | ZDNet iPhone coverage | CNET iPhone event coverage | Apple statement

Losers:

Android phones: Apple's global rollout starts on Oct. 14 with the U.S., Canada, Australia, UK, France, Germany, and Japan. Twenty two more countries will follow with a total of 70 countries by the end of the year. Toss in iPhone's ability to hit multiple price points and Android's market share gains could slow if not recede. Apple's onslaught also coincides with Nokia's Windows Phone rollout and a new product cycle from RIM.

4G networks: The iPhone's lack of 4G support highlights the compromises with next-gen networks. The biggest hassle is battery life. For the masses to get on the 4G bandwagon, networks need a full complement of devices. Apple's holdout doesn't help.

High-priced rival smartphones:The iPhone 4S starts at $199. Let's compare some other devices. The Motorola Droid Bionic is $299 at Verizon. The BlackBerry Bold 9930 will run you $250. Even if you add a premium for 4G capability $199 is the price point that matters.

Related:

Apple CEO Cook lets team, iPhone 4S do the talking

Around the network:

Topics: Telcos, Apple, Hardware, iPhone, Mobility, Smartphones, Verizon, Wi-Fi

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58 comments
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  • Winner - RIM

    Apple just gave RIM a window for QNX smartphones. No 4G, No NFC. 4S is a modest hardware update. RIM and Android will likely be moving the bar early next year.

    Apple is locked in until at least summer 2012 with 4S. Apple played for market share (low end / mid / high) so we'll see how it plays out.

    I love the scrambling to react to a lackluster announcement and spin by Pro Apple bloggers.
    MobileAdmin
    • Yeah it was weak

      @MobileAdmin And couldn't they change things up a bit. All of their presentations look the same. Now that Steve is gone, the whole act seems even more fake.
      otaddy
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

        @otaddy They all look the same but if they changed it up to be something different then all the haters would just say "It's the marketing". Who really cares if the presentation is great or not, it's the hardware and software that counts.
        non-biased
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

      @MobileAdmin
      That NFC is term for geeks. A Majority ofnpeople have no clue what NFC is and when you explain to them what it is half the time they are saying no because of fears of security. So that argument if not the reason why the blackberry will come back. If you think BB is going to catch up your delusional.
      Apples was lack luster to the people who bought into the all the rumors. What i coudlnt believe was how many so called journalist who got suckered Into the rumor bit themselves. Let see apple showed a faster phone working with their icloud new os updates siri intergration the ability to give 4g speeds with no 4g and few other things as lack luster. This even is lack luster because people did not get a 4 inch screen which is sad really.
      By all your definitions then the nexus prime will be a let down too. I'm mean it's only going to Faster speeds and revamped os. So what is so ground breaking And revolutionary about it so far. As a matter of speaking what was so revolutionary about the SGII? I mean it was just a faster phone?
      illwill112
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

        @illwill112

        Sorry, can't help myself - you missed an excellent opportunity in your opening paragraph. To wit:

        "A majority of people have NFC what NFC is..." :)

        Call me a victim of Thursdayitis.
        wazpark
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

      @MobileAdmin
      Also gave a much needed window to Nokia to show off their first WP7.
      kstap
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

      @MobileAdmin

      Ask the average person what 4G is, or what NFC is. Ask the average user if the iPhone 4G is 4G.

      You'll get a better picture on what the average person actually knows.
      Michael Alan Goff
    • Larry can't make lemonade from this announcement

      @MobileAdmin
      the lemons where spoiled to begin with.
      William Farrell
    • Not winner -- RIM: BlackBerry Bold 9930 has only 8GB of flash memory in it

      @MobileAdmin
      DDERSSS
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

        @DeRSSS

        Funny it also has a MicroSD slot which I have filled with a 32gb chip. So 8gb+32gb= more then iPhone AND I can swap cards as needed.

        My comment was more geared around QNX devices Q2 2012
        MobileAdmin
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

      @MobileAdmin
      I think Android is the clear winner of this less than stellar release. It is merely an OS update and faster hardware. Voice, hasn't that been around for like 2 years on Android? Android releases don't cause much fuss because they are ALWAYS running on the newest version of the OS and the latest greatest hardware is ALWAYS available as soon as it is marketable.
      Compare to the Gallaxy S II. Hardware every bit as good as iPhone. Running the latest Android release. What was the big deal. There wasn't one because that is what consumers EXPECT from Android. Apple however, gets to take years to update their OS and years to catch up on hardware, and everyone is supposed to be excited about it. I don't get it!
      brant@...
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

        @brant@... [i]Android releases don't cause much fuss because they are ALWAYS running on the newest version of the OS and the latest greatest hardware is ALWAYS available as soon as it is marketable. [/i]
        This statement just validates that the average consumer (the vast majority of the market) don't care about spec sheets. They are looking for the device they like the best, for some that will be bleeding edge devices for others it won't. Based on sales it certainly appears that Apple and the iPhone have nothing to worry about on the spec sheet side of things. Have never seen official stats but based on devices available and market share I would suspect that the iPhone out sells all the bleeding edge Android devices combined or close to it, the cheap devices make up the rest of the market share. If true, and I suspect it is, that would be glaring proof that packing a phone with everything you can doesn't sell the average consumer on it.
        non-biased
  • Confirmation

    I didn't note Apple was bringing 3GS to Verizon and Sprint? I assumed that was an at&t only incentive. I question how even wants that old of iPhone at this point?

    I wish blogs would note the iPhone 4 is now only 8gb so it's not the same device.
    MobileAdmin
    • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

      @MobileAdmin I suspect it will only be AT&T just as it was before. As far as who would want that old phone or the fact that the 4 is now only 8GB, look at past sales to find your answers. The 3GS with only 8GB as well out sold all Android devices combined while it was offered at the reduced rate on AT&T. The 4 should do very well for anybody that can offer it and even at over two years old the 3GS will be a great device for many looking for a cheap or free phone.
      non-biased
  • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

    There is a significant penalty for the lower prices. Yes, it will give Apple a boost; fashionistas everywhere are dancing in the aisles, as ever.

    But you are unwise to assume the competition will stand idly by; in six months, this non-event will be just a memory, while Amazon resets the Android market.
    Heenan73
    • Android does need help

      @Heenan73 It's a tired, and increasingly convoluted OS. Most stay with Android because they dont like iPhone or they are tech geeks (like me) who wanted to jump on the 4G bandwagon early.

      But there's very little to keep people on Android, and as soon as a better alternative comes around, many will probably jump ship--unless Google really works hard and makes substantial improvements in Android.
      otaddy
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

        @otaddy

        I'd argue that while techies view it as tired and convoluted, the average consumer views it as simple and convenient. Say what you will about iPhone/iTunes/App Store, but the ecosystem offers a one stop shop that's attractive to the masses who don't want to invest large amounts of time and energy "pimping out" their phones. Users aren't confronted with multiple app stores (Google Market, carrier app stores, 3rd party, etc.). They don't have to think about what Apps they need to enjoy and move content back and forth on their PCs and phones. They don't have to deal with multiple content providers for music, books, TV shows and movies, or what app to use once they purchase content.

        As for 4G, it's nothing but marketing for most. If you ask the average consumer if they want more bandwidth, of course they're going to respond "yes". But how many would truly take advantage of 4G enough to be a dealbreaker? How many people even know how much bandwidth 3G provides vs. 4G, or that 4G bandwidth varies from AT&T to Verizon to Sprint, etc.? How many have any clue how much bandwidth they get with their Comcast or Fios service at home? And in the current economy, with carriers starting to tack on a 4G premium fee per 4G device, how many consumers are going to pony up, especially when 4G coverage is still far from equal to 3G in many areas?
        TroyMcClure
      • Oops!

        @piousmonk - Heenan73's "tired, and increasingly convoluted OS" comment was about Android, not iOS. Most average Android users I know start out fascinated at first and then confused a few weeks later after the in-store training has worn off. I hate to admit it, but it looks like WP7 will stumble into contention by way of the Facebookers...
        Gr8Music
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

        @otaddy
        and they are - ICS release expected next week. But android rules anyway. Not tired, not convoluted, constantly evolving, progressing - exciting!
        deathjazz
      • RE: Apple's iPhone 4S: A look at the winners, losers

        @otaddy

        Google can work as hard as they like. It takes forever to get an update if at all through the OEM's or carriers which varies. Even when it comes through its NOT the latest in the series. I just go 2.3.3 on my Samsung Fascinate but 2.3.4 with the patches and bug fixess has been release by google early in the year. Yet that version is not what wa pushed out. Now I have new bugs to deal with and it may never get fixed. The Google Update process is so seriously flawed that other solutions look more and more inviting.
        tripplec