This morning, Apple pulled the wraps off their newest mobile phone, the iPhone 4S. It has a better camera, it’s faster, it has the largest storage capability of any iPhone and it responds to voice commands in a way we’ve never seen outside of Star Trek.
The live blogger for the New York Times summed it up best with this statement:
“We are clearly headed to Terminator/HAL territory here. Humans are doomed. Deal with it.”
Here’s a quick rundown of the new features.
Siri: Your Personal Assistant
Voice command module, Siri, is the main reason to switch to this new iPhone. It’s an incredibly intuitive system that understands and responds to conversational English (and a few other languages).
Ask what the weather is and you’ll get a weather report.
Ask what time it is in Paris and you get a clock showing Paris time.
Ask it to remind you to call your wife when you leave work and it will — because it knows which of your contacts is your wife and it has geolocation to know when you’ve left work.
Siri can also make appointments for you, read off text messages and events in your calendar. It can calculate days until a holiday, convert money, find the best Greek restaurant in the neighborhood and I imagine it can even call and lie to your wife about why you’re late for dinner.
It’s the ultimate cool tech toy, which can be really useful once we get past the point of asking it to do dumb things just to see how it responds.
For the marketer, this is gold. Think about it. Where does Siri get the answers to the questions? From the web. If a user asks Siri to find the best sports bar in the area, it’s going to look for high ratings on sources such as Yelp. If your sports bar isn’t listed, or isn’t well reviewed, Siri is going to pass you by.
This concept also plays into iPhone 4S’ new “Reminder” app. It’s the ultimate To Do list which reminds you to complete an errand when you’re near the appropriate place. Need to pick up a prescription? Reminder will ping you when you’re near the drug store. Imagine how this could impact holiday shopping.
Photos, Video, Speed and Storage
Apple has also made a few tweaks under the hood that will help your phone run twice as fast and stay charged longer. It’s not 4G, but Apple says it doesn’t matter since the speed and a fancy switchable antenna more than makes up for it.
They’ve also upgraded the camera so it rivals any point and shoot out there. You can start shooting within one second of opening the app and reporters at the event say the photos are amazing.
Video is also a joy to behold. To prove it, Apple had a couple of gamers play “Infinity Blade” for the crowd to show off the amazing graphics display. Again, I defer to the NYTimes:
The Infinity Blade person describes the graphics as “eye-melting.” I should certainly hope not.
Storage is also a big issue and Apple is offering three options: 16-gigabytes for $199, 32-gigabyte for $299, and a new 64-gigabyte model for $399.
More storage means more apps, more photos, more music. It means more people will be spending more time on their mobile phones, so that’s where you have to go if you want to reach them.
A Little Old School
In the middle of all this techno-wow, Apple also announced a new app that sends personalized greeting cards through the mail. Snail mail, not e-mail. In other words, using high-tech to go low-tech. How weird is that?
What it sounds like, is Apple trying to jump on the bandwagon started by other app developers. In addition to Cards, they’ve also added a Text Only button to Safari that allows you to strip down webpages for easier reading. “Find My Friends” is a new app that allows you to see where your friends are at any given moment so you can meet them for lunch, or avoid them at lunch, depending.
New and Improved?
The new iPhone is an upgrade, but if you take out the voice commands program, not by much. The size and shape is the same and most people don’t need 64 gigs of memory. Most people don’t even need an iPhone. Tim Cook says, “the iPhone has only 5 percent of the worldwide handset market.” So why is it so important to marketers?
It’s important because it’s new, it’s hot and it’s the future. Time spent crafting marketing campaigns for the iPhone is time well spent. Smartphone owners are young, educated, and financially well-off. And increasingly, mobile phones are their main route to the internet. This is a customer you want to reach and the new iPhone is going to help you do it.