New iPhone 4S, iPhone 5 Apple's Most Important Product Yet

Consumers can’t wait to hear just a shred of news about the new iPhone.

Case in point, a friend of mine, who woke me up this morning with the following text message:

Apple iPhone day tomorrow boys and girls. Shit needs to hurry up.

Indeed.

Make no mistake, there’s something different about tomorrow’s Apple keynote, which takes place at the company’s Cupertino headquarters at 10AM Pacific/1PM Eastern. There’s excitement, sure, but there’s also a bit of hope, and perhaps a pinch of concern.

To that end, the iPhone 5 (or iPhone 4S) is clearly the most important iteration of Apple’s incredibly popular device for a variety of reasons.

To start, it’ll be the first keynote to feature someone other than Steve Jobs, probably new CEO Tim Cook, in quite some time. Fans, critics and the competition will closely watch everything Cook does, then take to the Internet to analyse his body language, tone of voice and overall delivery. Supporters (especially shareholders) want him to take the company in a new and forward thinking direction. Opponents want him to show just the tiniest bit of weakness.

Past that, the Android platform has offered stiff competition, despite being featured on (arguably) inferior devices. Apple must show the world that it can innovate in this crowded smart phone market. We already know iPhone has the most user-friendly operating system, but that’s no longer good enough. The new product (more specifically, iOS 5) must be even more life changing than the original if the company plans to regain lost market share.

As for video games, Apple threw its hat into the proverbial ring with the App Store, and now faces the tough task of pushing smart phone graphics to the next level. Today’s games support impressive technology (Unreal Engine 3) and rival titles on 3DS, PSP and perhaps even PlayStation Vita. The new iPhone must be more powerful than its predecessor, or risk coming up woefully short in 2012.

Ultimately, tomorrow is Apple’s chance to come out and let the world know that it’s still the best at what it does with a device that immediately puts everything else to shame, forcing its rivals (we’re looking at you, Samsung) to look even more foolish by comparison.

Succeed, and Apple once again becomes the envy of the phone industry. Fail, or at the very least, stumble, and my friend’s texts will take on a different tone.

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