iPhone 4S a hit or a flop?

By Georgina Enzer  October 5, 2011 ITP.net

Electronics retailer Jacky’s has said that it has received several messages from iPhone users on its Facebook wall saying that they will now be swapping to Android devices after Apple’s underwhelming iPhone 4S launch in California last night, according to Ashish Panjabi, COO of Jacky’s.

Despite the wave of criticism following the launch of the device, Panjabi thinks that the iPhone 4S may still sell well in the UAE.

“The iPhone 4S will probably still be quite successful as there are a lot of enthusiasts who owned an iPhone 4 who’d be looking for a change, as well as many who still have an iPhone 3GS who’d want to transition to a newer model.  In addition, additional features like iMessage could mean several new users moving onto the iPhone 4S who previously were on other platforms. We’ve seen the same happen with BlackBerry as many users stuck to their RIM device only because of BBM, and iMessage could have the same impact for keeping users invested in the iOS platform,” said Panjabi.

With the average iPhone user upgrading their devices usually every time a new Apple iPhone is launched, and since it has been 18 months since the iPhone 4 was released, many of these users could be looking for an upgrade and with no iPhone 5 in sight, the 4S may have to be the answer. However, many may be put off and switch to other devices because the iPhone 4S looks identical to the iPhone 4.

“For users who wanted to change devices because they were more concerned with aesthetics, they may wait for a new form factor in iPhones before upgrading. For enthusiasts or people who were sitting on the fence for a while before moving from rival device or an older iPhone device to the iPhone 4, may make the jump now to the iPhone 4 or iPhone 4S,” said Panjabi.

Ovum chief analyst, Jan Dawson said that Apple has been a victim of its own successes, with the hype that usually surrounds its product launches not being realised by a simple phone upgrade. He said that many users may prefer to wait until the next generation iPhone 5.

“Though the announcement was relatively meaty in terms of hardware, Apple has been a victim of the hype that surrounds all of its announcements. With so many false rumours about what it would announce, it was almost inevitable that the announcement itself would disappoint. The hardware upgrades should improve performance considerably and keep the phone competitive with the latest Android and Windows Phone devices, but none will blow users away. This represents a significant upgrade for 3GS owners, but many iPhone 4 owners will be content to stick with what they’ve got until something less incremental comes along,” he said.

In the UAE, the success of the iPhone 4S is also reliant on the data packages given by du and Etisalat.

“Both du and Etisalat have increasingly been focusing on providing better data plans of late and this should hopefully mean we see more people moving onto smartphones like the iPhone 4S. From a content perspective, the UAE has been largely ignored but out of all the platforms that exist, there is probably more content available for the iPhone / iOS devices than for any other platform,” said Panjabi.

Apple will continue to sell its iPhone 3GS in international markets, the 3GS, which is over two years old, will be sold at a vastly reduced price, and in the US is being given free with contract packages.

“For a company which prides itself on the quality of its products, this strategy has always made more sense than producing a new, sub-standard device for such markets. The strategy should also keep iPhone shipment numbers growing as ever more first-time iPhone users join the back of the ranks,” said Dawson.

Apple’s shares fell 5% on the iPhone 4S launch, this scrambled back with the broader market to close at a 0.6% loss, while Samsung and Google shares gained on the news.

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