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iPhone 5: Apple 4S, pundits 0

Hacks, bloggers cover asses, as Apple readies right kit

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Comment Hell hath no fury like a hack spurned. Don't agree? Then look at the huge numbers of column inches being devoted today to Apple's "failure" to come up to journalist expectations and announce the iPhone 5.

Journalists being journalists, there's no hint of an apology that all their breathless prose devoted to iPhone 5 rumours proved to be wrong.

Now, we're not apologising either. We covered the iPhone 5 because readers want to read about it. That's the nature of the beast. But we're not going to beat up on Apple because it didn't so what we said it might.

We are the tail not the dog.

Analysts aren't off the hook, either. Today were slightly less spittle-mouthed than the more irate journalists. But they too were expecting the iPhone 5 and they too were disappointed not to experience an 'I told you so' moment at its launch. They seem to be taking it less personally than the hacks. Almost.

The trouble is, while a journalist can say he or she is simply reporting stories that are out there, the analyst is supposedly conveying market intelligence to his or her investor customers. The fact that no small number of analysts blithely forecast the debut of the iPhone 5 yesterday shows just how far said customers and others should trust their "channel research" and pronouncements on new products.

Another big FAIL goes out to the Chinese manufacturers of iPhone cases who gambled on a new form-factor and are now left with stacks of cheap plastic crap they can't sell until Apple does launch the iPhone 5 in late 2012 or 2013. And possibly not even then.

Today, there's a lot of talk of Apple falling behind the technology curve, of it losing out to Android - guess what, it already is - and even of some biblical "fall from grace" as one twit put it.

Apple is a commercial entity. It exists to sell stuff. It is not good. It's not innocent. It can't plunge from some pre-lapsarian height, no matter how many self-righteous bloggers it pisses off.

Is the iPhone 4S a product launch fail? It may prove to be, but I suspect not. Android's increasing market share comes not a jot from technology but solely because the OS can be found in not only pricey smartphones but cheap ones too. It has many hardware vendors behind it, and it's offered by many carriers and retailers.

Inevitably that positions it as the mobile OS most likely to succeed. History tells us that. And Google is, by and large, doing a good job of driving the platform forward.

But it doesn't mean Apple is doomed. Yes, you can talk about the iPhone 4 antenna issue, but that hasn't hindered sales. Quite the reverse. Punters have flocked to the iPhone 4 because they've found they like the OS and they're attracted to the form-factor. Apple would be daft to ignore that and foist an entirely new one on them.

Really, that's all the iPhone 5 or iPhone 4S argument is about: form-factor. Had Apple announced a skinnier, aluminium-backed, bigger-screened iPhone, it would still have had the same internals as the 4S. Performance would be the same. Network connectivity would be the same.

So what else was Apple ever going to do but announce a phone that's faster and more functional - thanks to iOS 5 more than the hardware - than the previous one? Launch two of them? Unnecessary.

Apple has been criticised in the past for merely making cosmetic changes to unchanged internals yet announcing the result as new product. Today, it's been slapped down for doing, effectively, the opposite.

You think a company not doing what the pundits hope it'll do - without any hard evidence that it will - is bad? It's nothing compared to pundits pouring scorn on said firm because they were caught out. ®

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