Apple debuted the iPhone 4S before a slew of competitors, but the device’s shortcomings are giving rivals a renewed effort for a fight in the mobile market.
Consumers and analysts had expected the new phone to boast a slimmer frame and bigger screen, but were disappointed to find the 4S looks just like the iPhone 4.
The Cupertino, Calif.-based company put more emphasis on revamped specs and software, and the $200 iPhone 4S includes updated software, dual-core processor and an 8-megapixel camera capable of 1080p video capture. It also boasts a new voice-recognition program called Siri, iCloud support and a service called iMessage that allows iOS users to communicate with each other for free.
But internal changes may not be enough to lure consumers away from rival devices like those in Samsung’s Galaxy line or HTC and Nokia’s coming Windows phones.
“Apple’s decision not to launch new hardware offers rivals Samsung and HTC a window of opportunity to narrow the gap with their high-end devices before the iPhone 5 arrives,” said analyst Ben Wood of mobile industry consultancy CCS Insight, according to Reuters.
Samsung’s is currently Apple’s biggest competitor, and its Galaxy line threatens Apple’s hold on the smartphone market, selling 19 million handsets to Apple’s 20.3 million during the third quarter.
The company plans to spend even more money to improve these devices’ hardware and software, as they have proven popular despite injunctions in Germany, the Netherlands and Australia as a result of Samsung’s battle with Apple over patent infringement.
Other Android makers like HTC, LG and Motorola are also competing with Apple and continue to claim more mobile market share collectively than their Cupertino rival.
Nokia, renowned for its hardware, may also take advantage of Apple’s failure to update the body on its iPhone 4S by doubling efforts to outdo its rival when it releases its first Windows-based phones.
All of Apple’s competitors have an inherent advantage in that their phones cover a range of sizes, modifications and prices, while the iPhone remains fixed in one design and at relatively limited prices.
The 4S is set to cost $200 for the 16-gigabyte version, $300 for double the storage, and $400 for 64-gigabytes. Apple, however, did make its 3G model free with a contract and reduced the iPhone 4 to $100 in the wake of the iPhone 4S’ release, which may help the company compete against cheaper Android and Windows models.
Apple’s iPhone 4S modifications may improve on its earlier model, but without significant hardware improvement the Cupertino company may see its competitors surge ahead.