New Apple iPhone fails to wow investors, fans
Updated: 2011-10-05 07:36
Philip Schiller, Apple's senior vice president of Worldwide Product Marketing, speaks about iPhones, including the iPhone 4S, at Apple headquarters in Cupertino, California October 4, 2011. [Photo/Agencies]
CUPERTINO, Calif.- Apple Inc's newest iPhone left Wall Street and fans wishing for more than a souped-up version of last year's device, igniting a rare storm of criticism and disappointment on the Internet.
Newly minted CEO Tim Cook ably helmed his first major product launch without former boss Steve Jobs, but failed to ignite the sort of excitement and buzz that the charismatic Apple co-founder once did.
Expectations were high at this critical juncture, when Android phones by Samsung Electronics and other rivals are closing in on Apple's lead and the important holiday shopping season gets started.
Investors and fans, looking to be blown away by some amazing surprise, sent the shares down as much as 5 percent before they recovered with the market to close down 0.6 percent.
Cook, who took over from Jobs in August, and his executive team showed off a device that comes with voice recognition and a better camera, but looks identical to the last phone and does little to lift the bar for smartphones.
While the gadget wasn't as tricked out as some had hoped, analysts liked its voice-enabling technology that helps users vocalize everything from stock price searches to sending messages -- more easily than on Android phones or Research in Motion Blackberries.
"It's been 16 months and all you've got is an A5 processor in the existing iPhone 4," said BGC Partners' analyst Colin Gillis. "It's a mild disappointment, but they're still going to be selling millions of units."
Some shareholders and analysts hoped for a cameo appearance by Jobs, now chairman. The pancreatic cancer survivor, who took his third medical leave in August, did not appear.
In some ways, Apple may have been a victim of its past success. Its launches are some of the hottest events on the tech calendar. Tuesday's "Let's talk iPhone" show marked Cook's unofficial debut since taking over from Jobs in August.
Analysts say it is more crucial than ever to sustain the popularity of its aging iPhone 4. Apple sold more than 20 million units in the third quarter ended June 25.
"It's kind of funny -- if they have gone and called it the 5, the stock would have been fine, but they're calling it the 4S, which is a disappointment to some," said WP Stewart portfolio manager Michael Walker.
The iPhone, which accounts for more than 40 percent of Apple's sales, has been a success since it came out in 2007, making Apple into one of the world's leading consumer electronics companies.