Yesterday saw Apple announce the latest incarnation of its popular mobile phone. But, for once, even the hardcore Apple fans were left slightly underwhelmed.
And the reason? Because the tech giant did not announce a product called iPhone 5.
The iPhone 4S is significantly better than the previous model, with a dual core processor, better voice control functionality and a raft of other features already found on many Android devices.
But most people aren’t interested in invisible technological advancement; things like the processing power of dual core A5 chips, eight-million pixels cameras, 1080p HD rendering and retina displays.
Most people were looking forward to seeing how the handset was going to change shape.
Was it going to taper off at the bottom, like the MacBook Air? Was it going to be curved? Will it be available in white straight away, or will we have to wait a few months and pay a bit more? These were the questions many wanted to ask.
And the unsatisfactory answers these people received could see Apple become the victim of its own incredibly successful marketing approach with the iPhone4S.
The company expertly drums up interest in its products, often based as much on aesthetics and associated status benefits as much as spec, and there is a sense that this wasn’t the product the masses were waiting for.
If a phone had been released with exactly the same stats but a slightly different outward appearance (and it had been called an iPhone 5) its reception would have been significantly less derisory.
Realistically Apple will probably go on to sell millions of iPhone 4S devices and at the eventual launch of the iPhone 5 there may well be graphs denoting record profits.
But Tim Cook et al will be watching Google’s launch event next week closer than they have in the past. Industry experts are anticipating the launch of Google’s new Nexus Prime, which is likely to defeat most of the iPhone 4S’s new stats. And it is going to be a different shape from the previous Nexus release.
If Apple attempts to out geek Google, it risks starting one of the few tech battles it can’t necessarily expect to win.