Apple launched the iPhone 4, the latest in its line of popular smartphones, on June 7 during the company's Worldwide Developers Conference. While Apple CEO Steve Jobs praised the iPhone 4 as a substantial leap forward for the device, it faces rising competition from the growing family of Google Android smartphones. The iPhone 4 will include Microsoft's Bing as a search-engine option, along with a proprietary A4 processor and a 5-megapixel camera. Jobs also touted iPad and iBooks sales, as well as new applications such as Netflix for iPhone.
Apple rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone 4 this week, with company CEO
Steve Jobs taking the stage June 7 at the company's 2010 Worldwide Developers
Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco
to show off the next-generation device. Despite the iPhone 4's advanced
features, however, Apple finds itself embroiled in an intensifying battle
against Google in the smartphone space, as Android-based devices continue to
Jobs' presentation at the WWDC highlighted Apple's strategic emphasis on its
mobile business. In addition to touting new applications such as Netflix for
the iPhone and high sales for the company's iBooks, Jobs also cited the
2-million-plus sales of the iPad. But the iPhone 4 dominated both his speech
and the day's tech news cycle; the task for Apple was to generate as much
excitement for the device as possible, despite having lost the vital element of
surprise after early prototypes leaked to tech blog Gizmodo and a Vietnamese
As those prototypes detailed, and Jobs confirmed during the speech, the
iPhone 4 includes a larger battery, thinner body, a proprietary A4 processor
under the hood, a front-facing camera for video conferencing, and a 5-megapixel
camera paired with a rear-illuminated sensor. Jobs described the new smartphone
as "the biggest leap since the original iPhone," according
to a live transcript of the event
, adding: "This is beyond doubt one of the
most precise, beautiful things we've ever done."
Analysts were more measured in their reviews for the device, but
overall seemed positive
"While the iPhone 4 isn't the leap forward that Apple paints it as, it is an
exceptionally beautiful device and is a substantial upgrade that will succeed
in maintaining Apple's mind and market-share growth," Charles Golvin, an
analyst with Forrester, wrote in a June 7 research note. "Apple's carrier
partners will benefit more in renewed loyalty as existing customers upgrade
than in new customer acquisitions, although we expect AT&T's new
introductory pricing tier will lure in family plan additions as well."
Golvin cited Apple's new FaceTime feature, which allows users to make video
calls via WiFi, as having the potential for mass-market appeal.
"With its FaceTime video calling app, the company demonstrated what it does
best: make technology usable by mainstream consumers," Golvin wrote. "If Apple
succeeds in convincing the industry to adopt FaceTime as a standard, the New
York World's Fair of 1964 will finally realize one of
its visions: video telephony."
Other analysts seemed more ambivalent.
"We see the iPhone 4 announcement meeting expectations and the lack of other
announcements slightly disappointing," wrote analysts from Macquarie,
to The Wall Street Journal
The iPhone 4 will be available in either white or black, starting June 24.
The 16GB version will retail for $199, and the 32GB version for $299, with a
two-year contract through AT&T. In
an inevitable move, Apple also lowered the price of the iPhone 3GS
, to $99
for the 8GB model.
Despite its iPhone push, Apple finds itself under fire-at least in the
popular imagination, if not in actual market share-by the slowly increasing
prevalence of smartphones running Google Android, which are seen as a direct
competitor in the consumer smartphone space. Many of the new aspects of Apple's
new iOS4 operating system, previously dubbed "iPhone OS 4," seem designed to
blunt the competitive advantage of certain Android features, notably
multitasking. Others-such as the iAd platform that lets developers bake
advertisements into mobile applications-appear more of a direct attack on
Google's business model.
The latter in particular has drawn some controversy.
"Apple proposed new developer terms on Monday that, if enforced as written,
would prohibit app developers from using AdMob and Google's advertising
solutions on the iPhone," Omar Hamoui, CEO
of AdMob, wrote
in a June 9 posting on "The Life and Times of AdMob" blog
. "The terms hurt
both large and small developers by severely limiting their choice of how to
best make money. And because advertising funds a huge number of free and
low-cost apps, these terms are bad for consumers, as well."
Whether such concerns matter to Apple, considering its pitched battle
against Google, remains to be seen; in any case, the iPhone and Android devices
seem prepped for a Cold War of sorts, particularly when it comes to their
steadily escalating technical specs.
"Apple is really setting itself apart from the Google Android phones with
the use of the 3.5-inch retina display on the iPhone 4," Vinita Jakhanwal, an
analyst with iSuppli, wrote
in a June 10 research note
. "The Nexus One smartphone, introduced in
January, upped the ante in handset displays with its 3.7-inch AM-OLED to
deliver stunning images. However, Apple raised the bar even further by offering
an LCD display with advanced In-Plane Switch (IPS)
technology," which is also incorporated into the iPad.
Jobs used his keynote address to position the retina display as the wave of
the future, at least when it comes to smartphone displays. However, iSuppli
anticipates that a number of smartphone manufacturers will follow Google's
AM-OLED adoption when it comes to their devices.
Apple made at least one new friend this week, though: At the WWDC, Jobs
announced that Microsoft's search engine, Bing,
had been added to the iPhone, joining Google and Yahoo.
"Microsoft has done a real nice job on this," Jobs told the audience.
Google, however, will remain the smartphone's default search engine.