It finally can start. The waiting in line around the block. The rampant analysis on fourth-quarter sales numbers. The predictions on when Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) shares will break $500. All of that and some doom-saying on when competitors like Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) and Nokia (NYSE:NOK) will finally keel over can now commence. Apple announced the new iPhone on Tuesday afternoon. It will be out on Oct. 14.
Of course, the iPhone 4S wasn’t the only product Apple was expected to announce. There is an entire stable of heavily rumored products allegedly in the pipeline over in Cupertino, Calif. So what was missing from Apple’s Tuesday press conference?
The elephant in the room. The iPhone 4S is a significant technical upgrade over 2010’s iPhone 4. It has upgraded storage, the faster A5 processor used in Apple’s iPad 2, a camera capable of HD video recording, and dual antennas that provided better call stability and data downloads comparable to those touted by Verizon (NYSE:VZ), AT&T (NYSE:T) and Sprint‘s (NYSE:S) 4G networks. The new Siri software actually takes voice commands!
Upgrade or not, it isn’t the iPhone 5, the new model analysts and consumers alike expected Apple to announce. The iPhone 4S was supposed to be, as months of rumors suggested, a smaller, cheaper version of the iPhone 4 available alongside the iPhone 5. While a new $99 8GB version of the iPhone 4 did materialize, there was no iPhone 5 to accompany the 4S’ debut.
Will the derailed expectations hurt Apple’s sales? It’s possible. A new study from research group InMobi published in September found that while 40% of North American consumers wanted an iPhone 5, just 15% expressed interest in a “soft upgrade” like the iPhone 3GS was following the iPhone 3. The iPhone 4S branding could prove to be a thorn in Apple’s side.
There have been a good number of conflicting rumors concerning the next generation of Apple’s best-selling tablet. Some sources suggested Apple would deliver a third model by the holidays, while others like JPMorgan analyst Mark Moskowitz maintained that a new iPad wouldn’t materialize until 2012.
While Apple did tout impressive statistics for its tablet at its Tuesday event — 92% of Fortune 500 companies have deployed or are testing the iPad in their businesses — no new device debuted. The next iPad is expected to have a high-resolution screen akin to the Retina Display in Apple’s iPhone 4S. Other rumors suggest that Apple will look to take on cable and satellite providers like Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Dish Network (NASDAQ:DISH) with a new iPad version of its AirPlay video app as well.