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BLOG: Apple's iPhone 4S an incremental upgrade

Jan Dawson, Chief Telecoms Analyst, Ovum | Oct. 5, 2011
The iPhone announced on Tuesday was always going to be a disappointment, simply because of the vast number of false rumors about the device's capabilities, form factor and features which circulated months ahead of the announcement.

Continued sales of iPhone 4 and 3GS represent Apple's mass market strategy

In some ways, the continued sales of the iPhone 4 and 3GS are a bigger story, because they represent the best answer Apple has to its strategy for emerging markets and the low end of the smartphone market. While the iPhone 4 has sold very well - likely over 70 million units since it was launched in mid-2010 - the iPhone 3GS has been a very popular option in certain markets, selling at lower and lower prices over the past year and appealing to first-time smartphone buyers in particular.

Its continued availability, at zero cost with subsidies from many carriers, will perpetuate Apple's growth at the low end of the market even as upgrade activity among existing 3GS and 4 owners spurs growth at the high end. By prolonging the life of a device already in the market, Apple also avoids some of the pitfalls for developers which might be associated with launching a new device with a smaller screen or other changes which would make existing apps incompatible. However, it does force developers to think about whether to continue to make their apps compatible with the older hardware even as ever more powerful hardware becomes available. There is a significant leap in specs from the iPhone 3GS to the iPhone 4S, and apps designed for the newer hardware will be sluggish or entirely non-functional on the older device.


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