Apple Introduces iPhone 4 and iOS 4 – First Take

It’s been a busy morning for Apple with lots of iPhone news and what’s now called iOS news. Lots of important stuff so let’s break it all down. First, Apple announced that the app store now has 225,000 apps with 5 billion downloads. That’s all in just under two years. I can’t quantify this for certain but that would make Apple’s mobile platform the fastest growing platform in history. Period. In a market driven by the value add of third party apps, that’s extremely important. What’s more important isn’t the number. I don’t need 225,000 apps. You likely don’t either. What you do get are the subset of apps that are right for you and that’s why the overall number is more important than you might think. Apple also shared that it’s now taking 28 percent of the US smartphone market, somewhat behind RIM but well ahead of Android’s 9 percent but again, perhaps more importantly, 58 percent of the mobile browsing market. Considering that three years ago iPhone wasn’t even on the market yet, that’s a major and important accomplishment. The big news thought was the launch of iPhone 4. Apple’s latest effort in the smartphone space. Apple talks about seven core features of the device and I’ll go into them here as well as what they mean.

1. Design. The new phone is nothing short of stunning. I know you think you might already know what the device looks like but trust me, it’s not even close to seeing the device up close and in person. It’s super thin at 9.3mm which is a shrink down of 24 percent. It’s got a solid feel and heft and the metal trim (which are also the antennas) gives it a very elegant look. You’ll know immediately it’s an iPhone but this is Apple’s best effort in design yet.

2. Retina Display. Again, this has to be seen to be appreciated. Apple has upped the ante on the phone display market with a new design that’s now 4x greater in terms of pixels than previous iPhones. That means that text and graphics take on a stunning new clarity. At 326 pixels per inch, Apple has now hit the magic threshold above 300 where the retina simply can’t see the individual pixels anymore. Web pages, email, photos all have a stunning new clarity. Using the same screen tech as the iPad, it’s far superior to AMOLED in terms of use in bright sunlight and has a very nice wide viewing angle. This is now the new benchmark for all devices to follow. Despite the smaller screen size, iPhone now has 78 percent of the pixels of the iPad. For me, this alone would be worth the price of admission. Because Apple uses a full multiplier, older apps will scale very well to the new format and will not be pixelated, in addition apps that use text or Apple controls will see scale automatically. Apple’s own apps are now Retina enabled and I expect most developers to take advantage of the new screen immediately.

3. It’s running an A4. Just like big brother iPad. Suffice to say performance is excellent. There’s a degree of fluidity that’s fantastic across the board. Apple’s also added some fun stuff like a larger battery for the best claimed battery life of an iPhone, 7 hours of 3G talk time, HSDPA/HSUPA and 80211.n. Apple’s also tossed in a set of dual mikes for noise cancellation.

4. There’s a gyroscope. Yep, the iPhone now does pitch/roll/yaw. Add in the accelerometer and there’s now six axis support. I don’t have to explain what this will mean for next generation games and other apps. It’s not a killer feature by itself but it’s going to allow a lot of cool stuff to happen.

5. There’s a new camera. It’s now a 5mp lens, with LED flash and 5x zoom. There’s also updated video to 720p with full editing and sharing. Even cooler, there’s now a full version of iMovie for iPhone 4. Themes, transitions, movies are all here. It’s an extra $4.99 but looks like it’s easily worth it. It’s really a small movie studio that goes in your pocket. Super cool.

6. As mentioned, Apple has consolidated the platform for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad under one name. It’s now called iOS. Apple says it’s on track to ship the 100 millionth iOS device this month. This is extremely important as the battle in mobility isn’t just about phones. With an Apple platform of connected screens at 100 million there’s huge incentive for developers to further embrace the platform. This is the classic positive feedback loop that Microsoft so successfully exploited at the desktop level. I’ve talked about most of the iOS 4 features in the past so I won’t go into more depth here except for one thing. iOS now supports Microsoft’s Bing as a search option. No, it’s not the default… yet. One, however, can clearly see how the competition between Apple and Google is leading to strange alliances. I’ve questioned Google’s approach in the past about creating a rift with Apple (and Google’s recent language at i/o made it clear who they are taking shots at). There’s an important message being sent today. Keep your eye out for what comes next.

7. Some more detail about iBooks for iOS 4. There’s sync across devices and like other Apple content, books can be downloaded any number of times to any number of devices. That’s nice change from some of the restrictions of the KIndle platform and how many times books can be downloaded. Apple now boasts 150 million accounts and credit cards making one of, if not the largest commerce sites. Overall the combined three stores have seen 16 billion downloads which shows how strong Apple is relative to the competitive landscape.

One more thing. It’s been awhile since Steve said those words and today it’s all about FaceTime. Taking advantage of the iPhone 4’s front facing camera, FaceTime is mobile video conference done right. It works iPhone 4 to iPhone 4 and it’s WiFi only for 2010. What it is though is simple. There’s no setup, there’s no configuration. There’s no lag. Audio and video are fully in sync. In short it just works. We knew there might be this sort of capability from some of the leaks but the truth is, until you see it in action, it’s hard to appreciate. Even cooler, it’s all open so developers can easily add this functionality to their apps. Skype, are you listening? Apple isn’t the first to market with video conferencing on a phone but they’re the first to get it right. It’s not a feature unless the mass market uses it and I expect FaceTIme will drive a lot of sales.

The new devices hit on June 24th and iOS will drop just before that. Good news is iOS 4 is a free upgrade for both iPhone and iPod touch users. Memory configs will match last years 3Gs devices at the same price point. The 3Gs drops to the old 3G slot as an entry level $99 device.

Bottom line? Apple has raised the bar for the phone market once again. With a combination of new hardware and software features, iPhone sets the standard for what the state of the art smartphone experience is. While 3Gs users can console themselves that they can take advantage of core features in iOS 4, I expect many will want to upgrade. Look for a full hands on in the near future when it’s released on the 24th.

16 responses to “Apple Introduces iPhone 4 and iOS 4 – First Take

  1. Great overview of the new phone. What is your take compared to the recent Android announcements? It seemed like many people thought that there was little Apple could do to address the updates Google released.

  2. Thanks for this – I could have dome something else during the live podcast, you’ve covered it well. One perspective on the 225,000 apps that I haven’t seen mentioned is the international scope of the platform. I’d be curious to know what percentage of the 225k is directed at an English speaking market primarily. I click on a lot of icons for apps that are exclusively Asian.
    As much as I like the look of the new phone, one of the flaws in Apple’s marketing approach is carrier exclusivity. There’s no way Rogers is going to cooperate with me upgrading a phone I bought last year and I am loathe to give them another cent (as in pass my 3G S to my partner, drydock her 3G and buy the 4G with a significant premium attached to it). Canadians get thoroughly abused by mobile telcos. I am considering jailbreaking the 3G and converting it into a router for the iPad.

  3. Nothing spectacular from today’s announcement- Apple just seems trying to catch up to Android. The consumer attention and momentum is certainly on Android, and today was maybe Apple’s chance to catch up but it fell short. Soon, another awesome Android phone is going to even get further ahead than this iPhone.

  4. @Brooks, what Apple has done is leverage a very tightly-woven ecosystem, something Google is at a complete loss to compete against. Google can fight with hardware featuresets (faster processor, better camera, etc…) but software is where it matters. And Android starts (and ends) with a fragmented environment, where each device is sufficiently different to confuse customers. This is exactly the old paradigm of cell operators giving such ridiculous useless choice as to stifle demand.
    Contrast with the iPhone and iPad: want a bigger web surfing/reading device? get iPad. want a phone? get iPhone 4. Want a cheaper phone? get iPhone 3GS. And all with the exact same OS whose greatest value is the absolute lack of a user manual.
    And for developers, the iOS platform is by far the easiest out there. And one of these days it will move to the Macs, and Windows PCs will truly feel like typewriters. See my blog post here:

    PS: I am nowhere near being an Apple fanboy, I’ve got all sorts of devices and PCs and I think Win 7 is a great OS. But the writing is on the wall, or on the 300 dpi haptic device, so to speak.

  5. All these features will have a massive impact on the market, because it is suddenly becoming highly configureable to lifestyle choices, rather than the higher end of the market. As an educator, I can’t wait to use this both professionally and personally!

  6. “Apple has raised the bar for the phone market once again.”

    Wake Up. If you bothered to venture out of the walled garden once in a while you might realise that Apple is playing catchup with this phone. They’ve done a great job, but there are real competitors. HTC Evo for example, which is already on sale.

    Thorough overview, but the sycophantic (and dubious) market insight is oh so predictable.

  7. Great to see a decent appraisal of what was announced, thank you.

    Seems to me most commentators have not understood just how far ahead yesterdays announcements take Apple’s mobile products…

  8. It’s amazng to me that some people fail to realize that Apple created the smartphone market for Google and these other companies. Yes the smartphone existed before Apple entered the market, but Apple revolutionized it and made it truely profitable by pulling in the average consumer. RIM was already doing great in the business world, but few average consumers were interested. And you don’t see all these other ungrateful companies trying to copy RIM’s software. Android will find success in the same way Microsoft found success, copy Apple and offer a “good enough” copy. However, the mobile space is very different than the PC space and Android will never overtake iOS. The dolts that can’t wrap their brains around this is because currently Apple only sells through At&T; a necessary evil in order revolutionize the market Google is enjoying playing in. But this will change in the near future and then Android will drop back to irrelevent where it belongs. The proof of this is in every international market where the iPhone is sold by multiple carriers. Apple has years of hard earned expertise in hardware and software creation, Hoogle does not. And for you morons talking up the HTC Evo 4G, there was a Best Buy in my local mall last Friday that set up barriers to handle the lines for this phone… there was nobody in line… 0 people. When the iPhone 4 debuts in 2 weeks the lines will be a mile long.

    • “And for you morons talking up the HTC Evo 4G, there was a Best Buy in my local mall last Friday that set up barriers to handle the lines for this phone… there was nobody in line… 0 people. When the iPhone 4 debuts in 2 weeks the lines will be a mile long.”

      Jay, you can call people morons all you like, it doesn’t change the fact that the Evo is a great phone and a genuine competitor to the iPhone 4.

      It’s selling very well, albeit without queues, with a fraction of the marketing budget we see for Apple devices. Don’t forget that a great deal of the price of an iPhone is the all pervasive marketing specifically engineered to generate the exact kind of hype you are talking about. However that’s all it is, hype. I don’t see people queueing for Nokia phones either, but they outsell Apple 10 to 1.

  9. I haven’t seen anyone explain how Facetime works? Does my address book know when any of my contacts is available for a FT call – so what is managing this presence? Or do you simply try to place a FT call and get a message if it doesn’t work?

    Also, is it the FT service that is available to developers or simply access to the front facing camera? So could developers make video conference work over 3G?


  10. The sad thing is all those Android-fanboys, like Tim and Bob, will not return to say they were wrong when iPhone 4 proves to be a bigger hit than they think.

    Apple’s brilliance is in building a platform with depth and to its own strengths; strengths that align with what the mainstream market wants instead of what the geek, early-adopter market wants. Apple doesn’t focus on the things where it is behind or where it is catching up Apple just changes the conversation. Look at iMovie; Google would’ve instead allowed you to upload unedited videos to the cloud.

  11. @Mark

    “The sad thing is all those Android-fanboys, like Tim and Bob, will not return to say they were wrong when iPhone 4 proves to be a bigger hit than they think.”

    First of all, I’m not an Android fanboy, I’m actually a fan of both systems. I don’t think one is streets ahead of the other as fanboys on either side will tell you.

    For starters, I think the iPhone 4 will be a hit. However your assertion that Apple is providing what the mainstream want is rather contradicted by the smartphone OS market share, which is entirely dominated by Symbian, with iPhone OS rapidly losing ground to Android.

    The mainstream market don’t want to pay $300+ for a phone on top of a hefty contract, however stylish it might look.

    Video calling is not a mainstream service that will take off, not just my view, the view of Gartner analyst Carolina Milanese.

    I said it’s playing catchup. It is.

    It has a nice screen, to catchup (and clearly surpass) HTC.

    It allows limited multitaksing, to attempt to close the gap with HTC

    It has an improved processor, allowing multitasking, to close the gap with HTC

    It has a new camera, to close the gap with loads of smartphones.

    All that said, it’s a fantastic phone, looks fantastic, and I’d be a very proud owner. It’s just not anywhere near the step forward that the iPhone 3G was, and in my opinion is not the paradigm-smashing competition-destroyer some hype merchants would have us think.

    • “Its just not anywhere near the step forward that the iPhone 3G was…”

      I could not disagree more. The only real differences between the original iPhone and the iPhone 3G was the addition of GPS and the 3G chip. Aside from that, the changes were cosmetic and/or troubleshooting, e.g., switching the back from brushed metal to plastic and providing better speakers.

      With the iPhone 4, you are getting a redesigned product, with new looks, new high-def screen, additional camera, gyroscope, A4 chipset, camera system, redesigned antenna, and, similar to the iPhone 3G release, a new OS.

      Second, “your assertion that Apple is providing what the mainstream want is rather contradicted by the smart phone OS market share, which is entirely dominated by Symbian.” I don’t even know where to begin there, what you say is true but I guess it depends on what your definition of a smart phone is – it never hurts to have the OS in the Smartphone-Giveaway category. That being said, take a look at the 5 year chart for Nokia (NOK)….the mighty have fallen from 40 to 9.16. Also, look at different OSs in terms of web-traffic, Symbian does not have much of a pulse, it is all Android and iOS.

      Besides, let’s just say you are right and Symbian truly reflects what the mainstream wants. Why the heck is the Nokia N8 such an iPhone wanna be? Tell me, if Apple never steps into the smartphone realm, does the N8 or Symbian 3 (or Symbian 4) even exist?

      The fact remains that there are a lot of great smart phones out there, and that is a good thing. But you have to give Jobs his credit; he revolutionized the smartphone market with the software/user first mentality and the touch-screen interface.

      • “Besides, let’s just say you are right and Symbian truly reflects what the mainstream wants. Why the heck is the Nokia N8 such an iPhone wanna be? Tell me, if Apple never steps into the smartphone realm, does the N8 or Symbian 3 (or Symbian 4) even exist? ”

        Ok we’re talking a little at cross-purposes. When I say what the market *wants* I mean the combination of features and pricing they are actually prepared to pay for.

        Nokia is sliding (because they are rubbish) and Android is picking up the slack. Why? Because Apple’s high end phones are always priced out of the mainstream, and Android phones are offering similar, and in some cases better, features for less money.

        Most of the mainstream car purchasing market would *want* a Ferrari or some similar supercar, but end up with something cheaper.

        Why would I pay for an iPhone 3GS here in the UK, when I can have an HTC desire for free on a cheaper contract?

  12. Wow do any of y’all iPhone hater’s know what the crap y’all are talking about. First off I purchased the iPhone 4 with a new contract for $199, and I do clearly remember walking into sprint and seeing the HTC EVO for the price of $199 so the price is the same so stop with that, and second who the hell wants a HTC my wife has been what is now her 5th HTC phone all different and better upgrades, and now she is a proud owner of the very easy and highly simple to use iPhone 4! The only thing that the new EVO has is a sleek design, and a wide screen. I messed with the new EVO and was not for a second impressed by it. Microsoft Mobile is still no good. Stop being hater’s and get a real phone! Oh and by the way, all the bad reviews and so-called flaws with the new iPhone has not happened with me yet. I give he iPhone 4 a perfect 10!

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