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Apple introduces the iPhone 5 in San Francisco. Did it live up to the hype?
Apple is still in the process of running through various product updates and rollouts in San Francisco, but the marquee event — the reveal of the all-new iPhone 5 — has concluded. The verdict: Apart from a modest change in the design and some improvements in speed and battery life, this is not a radically new smartphone. Here's a quick summary:
The new connector is the most controversial thing about the iPhone 5. Basically, Apple is replacing the familiar connector that was borrowed from the iPod eight years ago with a new, smaller connector. This is to make room inside the taller, thinner iPhone 5. But it strands the iNation with a bajillion connectors and chargers that have been amassed over the better part of a decade. Apple says it will provide an adapter, called "Lightning," for something like $15, but you know how it goes with fiddly little things like that. Apple better sell them in six-packs.
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An Apple Store customer looks at the new Apple iPhone 4S. It will be old news by tomorrow, replaced by the iPhone 5.
Okay, I'm obviously taking a highly contrarian position here. But in the context of iPhone 5 mania, it's a worthwhile undertaking — especially given that an analyst at JPMorgan thinks that iPhone 5 sales could add a half a point — Half a point! — to U.S. GDP growth this year. The iPhone 5, which Apple is debuting tomorrow, could literally save the economy, which actually isn't all that surprising an outcome if you believe, as I sometimes do, that the U.S. economy these days consists of Apple, the auto industry, and little else.
The iPhone 5 isn't that different from the iPhone 4S. True, it's expected to incorporate features that newer Android phones already have. With 4G LTE service and a larger screen, the iPhone 5 should be faster than its predecessor and provide lusher viewing of photos, videos, games, and so on. The battery is also reported to be beefier. But so what? Is the iPhone 5 going to rock anybody's world? It's likely to be a commendable refinement/improvement on the former model. But world-rocking in the smartphone world seems to belong to the Android Nation.
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Amazon founder Jeff Bezos introduces Kindle Fire last September. What new forms will the device take? We'll probably find out tomorrow in L.A.
All Amazon has done is invite the media to an event at a hanger at the Santa Monica airport tomorrow morning. But chances are pretty good that we're going to be seeing some tablets. This won't be like the similarly mysterious Microsoft event in June at which we were introduced to the technology giant's first-ever ready-for-market tablet, Surface. Amazon already has Kindles and Kindle Fires. So what are we likely to see?
Q: Will we get a bigger Kindle Fire?
A: Nope. CNET already reported that a Kindle Fire Big isn't in Amazon's immediate future. Rather, the company will be updating the current Kindle Fire with a new model and introducing a second model. Both will be 7-inch tablets.
Q: Does it really make sense for Amazon to treat this as a media event?
A: Apple has an iPad Mini and the new iPhone 5 coming soon. The iPad Mini will hit in October and the iPhone arrives this month. Microsoft just planted its stake with Surface and then there are all the Android tablets that aren't Kindle Fires (which is built on Android but customized for Amazon). Amazon needs to stay in the game here.
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Customers test the IPad. Apple devices may soon be able to recognize these fingers by their fingerprints.
Apple has a huge hoard of cash: $117 billion at last count. It's going to pay out a dividend to share some of the wealth with stockholders, but it's also going to make acquisitions. Except that Apple doesn't really have a long track record of making acquisitions. It's been content to innovate and grow on its own, rather than to go out shopping for innovation and growth.
But the announcement today that it will buy AuthenTec, a company that's focused on making mobile devices more secure, for $356 million should please Apple's investors and fans — as well as future customers. AuthenTec has developed a fingerprint-recognition technology that sounds like it maps perfectly to the touchscreen age. You use your fingers to manage the interface on iPhones and iPads, so it why shouldn't Apple's mobile security protocols be finger(print) based, as well?
An Apple store in Shanghai, China. The company made plenty of money in its fiscal third quarter but still disappointed Wall Street.
Is it a lull? That's the easiest way to read Apple's not-unexpected fiscal third-quarter earnings miss, which was announced after markets closed today. For the record, profits were actually up year-over-year — by over a billion dollars — but Wall Street wanted more for one of the most expensive stocks on the entire stock market. Analysts were looking for $10.37 per share, but they got more than a buck less: $9.32 per share.
AAPL was duly pummeled in after-hours trading, dropping by more than 5 percent.
Blame for this just appalling performance (kidding, obviously) goes to some bumpy issues with various products, but really falls squarely in the impending launch of the iPhone 5. Apple is selling more iPads — 17 million in its fiscal Q3 — but the iPhone still accounts for the lion's share of Apple's profits. Consumers eagerly await the iPhone 5, which is technically the sixth generation of the smartphone. The consensus view is that this anticipation, this delayed gratification, is cutting into iPhone 4S sales, which while nothing to sneeze at didn't enable Apple to achieve enough growth to clear that $10.37/share hurdle.