The iPhone 4S isn't about you. It's about everyone else

With the iPhone 4S, Apple is doing more than targeting its existing customers.

In the post iPhone 4S announcement world, you've probably been hearing the word "disappointment" thrown around a lot. Investors, journalists, and even regular people were let down - nay, disappointed - by Apple's decision to not let the its next iPhone completely blow their minds.

Instead, Apple took a page from its own book, dropping the iPhone 4S in the mental spot everyone had reserved for the iPhone 5. An iterative upgrade, the move to the iPhone 4S is almost identical what Apple did with the iPhone 3GS. But doesn't make it any less heartbreaking.

Apple, however, isn't all too concerned with emotions. Dealing strictly with numbers, the iPhone 4S is one of the savviest business decisions Apple has ever made. It's proof that Apple is paying attention, not to the most vocal consumers and bloggers, but the remaining bulk of people who don't own iPhones at all.

If you already have an iPhone, then the iPhone 4S isn't for you. Or about you. Apple is playing the expansion game with its latest device, a reality that Tim Cook himself alluded to during Tuesday's unveiling. “The iPhone has 5% share of the worldwide market of handsets,” Cook said yesterday, and you could hear behind his words the entirety of Apple's new strategy: Expand.

That's why the iPhone 4S is a world phone, compatible with both GSM and CDMA networks. And also why the little old iPhone 3GS is now free on contract, and why Sprint and Japan's KDDI are finally in on the action. It's also why Apple made such a big deal about China and the burgeoning smartphone market there. Apple isn't interested in recapturing the hearts and wallets of people who already own an iPhone. It wants everyone else.

Apple didn't unveil the iPhone 5 yesterday because the iPhone 5 wasn't a part of the plan. A newer, more expensive iPhone won't help Apple take on Android's market share, at least not in the short term. The iPhone 4S is about getting iOS in the hands of more and more media-hungry consumers. There may be a lot of disappointed people out there, but Apple's stockholders won't be among them.