Tim Cook's dull debut

 

A close look at Apple's new iPhone 4S

It felt the same as any other Apple event - a man in dark, casual clothes walking around a stage telling the world about how wonderful his company and its products are.

But this time that man was Tim Cook, not Steve Jobs. On taking to the stage, Apple's new boss acknowledged that this was his first launch since taking over, as if to say, "be gentle with me".

Soon he was reeling out stats in the familiar manner - new stores opened, more Macs sold, a 23% market share for Macs in US stores, 45 million iPods sold last year, the iPad had 74% of the tablet market.

One statistic did not look so great - the iPhone has just 5% of global phone sales, although its share of the smartphone market is much higher.

Mr Cook's point was that the whole market is going to be smart - so there is plenty for Apple to aim at.

But then just as we were waiting for the big reveal, Mr Cook left the stage and handed over to a succession of his colleagues.

Tim Cook. 4 Oct 2011 Tim Cook says Apple is not just about individual products

They filled us in on the progress towards the launch of the iCloud service - launching next week, and offering to sync your music, photos and documents to your various devices. A bit like what Google and Amazon offer.

They told us about new apps like Newsstand which will act as a portal for papers and magazines, or Cards which lets you send cards - through the mail. None of it exactly mind-bending - but then we had the iPhone 5 to come, from the main man.

But we didn't.

Apple's marketing boss Phil Schiller, after talking about new lower prices for the iPod, stayed on stage to launch the iPhone 4S. It looks identical to the iPhone 4.

Mr Schiller assured us that it was completely different inside - a better camera, longer battery life, faster data connections, and apparently it's got an even better antenna than its predecessor (eg it can actually make phone calls.)

Still, you could sense a great wave of disappointment rolling through the Apple community.

Why rush out and buy the new, new thing if it looks just like that old phone that's been around for more than a year?

There was an impressive demo of the new Siri voice control system for the phone, which apparently allows you to talk to your mobile and get it to do just about anything from laying the table to fixing you an appointment with an Apple executive. Whether we all want to shout to our phones is another matter.

But overall what we got from an extremely long and ponderous event was nothing that would make anyone but the most dedicated Apple fan go "wow".

As if to answer that criticism, Tim Cook finally came back on stage to tell us that Apple was not about the individual products, more about how they all worked seamlessly together.

But there was no "and one more thing". So, for Apple's new boss, the verdict has to be - things can only get better.

 
Rory Cellan-Jones Article written by Rory Cellan-Jones Rory Cellan-Jones Technology correspondent

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