Digital World: The ‘After Steve’ era or the Dreamtime?

Never fear, the iPhone 5 is out there, and when it does come out, it will confirm that Apple’s “dreamtime” is still going strong.

Bibi netanyahu (photo credit: JPost Staff)
Bibi netanyahu
(photo credit: JPost Staff)
Now that we are in the AS (After Steve) era, the days when Apple genius Jobs came up with an innovation seemingly every other day now indeed seem like “the dreamtime,” when miracles still seemed possible. And last week’s unveiling of the iPhone 4S – coming ironically just days before the death of Steve Jobs – seems indeed a harbinger of the AS era, when the miracles cease and Apple becomes a company like any other, with some products that work and others that don’t.
That’s what much of the online opinion, professional and otherwise, would have you believe. The iPhone 4S elicited howls from much of the self-appointed Apple intelligentsia – mostly because it was the iPhone 4S and not the iPhone 5, as we had been led to expect would be presented.
“Aha,” say the naysayers. “Apple’s lost the magic.” The fact that it wasn’t an iPhone 5 that was introduced, but just an “enhanced” iPhone 4, was clear proof that the Jobs magic had run out, and the death of the Apple genius that same week confirmed that the age of Apple miracles is indeed over.
You don’t have to be an Apple “fanboy” to be sad at the death of a genius like Jobs, or the sunset of creativity at Apple; it it were true, which it isn’t, for reasons that will become clear. But there are legions of “Apple haters” out there who are downright giddy at the possibility that Apple has been “cut down to size.” To them I say – watch out! As Ethics of the Fathers teaches, “Jealousy, desire and honor remove a person from the world.” If the only way you can promote your Android phones or PC laptops is by celebrating the death of your competitor, you are truly a sorry example of a human being! Besides, Apple isn’t going anywhere.
Just because it was an iPhone 4S that was on display last week, instead of an iPhone 5, has nothing to do with the company’s creativity.
I believe it was an internal Apple decision to avoid too much celebrating during a period when Steve’s death was clearly imminent.
In other words, there is an iPhone 5, but I believe that Apple chose not to introduce it right now out of respect to Steve. Instead, Apple chose to introduce the iPhone 4S, which was one of the products that was supposed to have been introduced together with the iPhone 5.
How do I know this? Well, I’m wasn’t privy to any internal Apple emails or policy decisions. But throughout the summer there were consistent rumors regarding the products Apple was expected to announce “in the fall.”
One of them was the iPhone 5, which was going to blow away anything we’ve ever seen in cellphones.
Another was to be an enhanced iPhone 4, with a cheaper price tag, specifically to be offered to users without a contract, so they could use the device with the service provider of their choosing.
And there was supposed to be a third device, a much cheaper version of the current iPhone 3GS or 4 to be offered in China and developing countries. Indeed, just a couple of days after the 4S introduction Apple announced that the device would be available for outright purchase beginning in November.
The iPhone 4S is clearly not the iPhone 5 we had been led to expect; it looks like the iPhone 4, while the 5 was expected to have a newer design. However, the 4S is no slouch; its A5 processor makes the device twice as fast as the current iPhone 4 (note, though, that there are some Android phones that are nearly as fast). In addition, the 4S sports an 8- megapixel camera, a truly amazing addition for a smartphone. And, the 4S will include an embedded version of Siri, Apple’s “virtual butler,” which lets you interact with your phone by just talking to it. That, too, looks like a pretty amazing feature.
And the bottom line is still the bottom line. According to sales figures, AT&T sold more than 200,000 iPhone 4S units in just the first 12 hours after the product was introduced, making the 4S the most successful iPhone launch ever! That figure does not include the devices sold directly by Apple (which itself had several hundred thousand preorders) and Sprint (now an iPhone distributor as well). All told, it’s not unlikely that Apple will sell close to a cool million 4S devices within the first week of its being introduced! Knowing that an iPhone 5 is waiting in the wings, chances are that many current iPhone 4 users are going to wait at least awhile for the “real thing” to be announced, at which point all sales bets are off (they may get a million preorders in just the first day!).
Imagine, though, that that scenario had actually come about last week, with the iPhone 5 racking up sales and generating excitement to such an extent – and with Steve Jobs dying two days after the product introduction. It could be argued that that would have been a far more honorable sendoff for Steve, with the most innovative smartphone ever his final creative gift.
It makes sense, but I think the dichotomy between the happiness of the runaway sales and the sadness at the boss’s death would have been too much for a company that has been built around the personality of one of the most creative people in modern times.
In the end, Apple opted for a muted announcement, which did not generate the fanfare that the iPhone 5 introduction would have.
But never fear; the iPhone 5 is out there, and when it does come out, it will confirm that Apple’s “dreamtime” is still going strong.