iOS 5 also offers access to
iCloud, which can provide wireless backup and music storage and a newsstand
feature that provides access to magazines and newspapers. While it's hard to
tell from a remote briefing, it appears that additional functionality has been
added to its geographical services, and that iTunes will be more flexible as
The iPhone 4S will be
available in the United States Oct. 12 and worldwide by the end of October.
But the next question is, how long after that will the iPhone be the dominant
smartphone model around the world?
At the beginning of his
talk, CEO Tim Cook pointed out that Apple only has 5 percent of the world
handheld device market. Cook said this was because his numbers include all
devices, not just smartphones. He also said that someday all of these devices
will be smartphones and that Apple will hold a dominant role.
But to accomplish that,
Apple has to do more than just introduce a new version of the iPhone, as nice
as it might be. And the company has to do more than drastically lower the prices
of subsidized phones in the United States, even though a free iPhone is really
cheap. More than anything, Apple has to find a way to make the iPhone carrier
agnostic. All of those smaller carriers, from T-Mobile to Cellular South to
Cincinnati Bell, also need to have access to the iPhone.
Likewise, the iPhone price
outside the United States needs to come down to prices that more people can
afford. With iPhone prices in some places being more than $1,000 each, outside
the United States, the iPhone is very much a luxury item. While the iPhone
sells for reasonable prices in many places outside the United States, such
as Western Europe, the vast majority of cell phone users aren't located in
North America or Europe.
This means that for Tim Cook
to realize his vision of growing past that 5 percent penetration level, Apple
has to do something to make the phone more available. The two big things are to
make the phones less expensive outside North America and Europe and to make the
iPhone available to users of a much wider selection of carriers.
While Apple has been selling
an unlocked version of the iPhone that will work on GSM networks for a while,
it's not priced so that most people other than wealthy users or businesses can
buy it. For Apple to move beyond 5 percent, it has to change that