“Seldom have so many waited so breathlessly for so little,” tweeted veteran business journalist and Seeking Alpha blogger Dana Blankenhorn (http://www.danablankenhorn.com), commenting on Tuesday’s Apple announcements. Atlanta-based Blenkenhorn is bearish on Apple, but he had a point. My own dominant impression was: “no surprises.” However, that’s more observation than complaint. As one who follows every tidbit of intelligence that emerges in the rumor stream for months preceding Apple product announcements, I can hardly object when the scuttlebutt turns out to be largely accurate, which it was in this instance.
Mobile payments, iOS 8, A-8 system on chip (SoC), 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch displays, upgraded cameras, and so forth, had already been baked into expectations of Apple-watchers. Hearing the official word from Apple was more confirmation of what we were pretty confident we already knew, not so much breaking news. Even the iPhone 6 Sapphire Screen no-show had been pretty much discounted by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and others for several weeks now.
Not to say that the iPhone 6 and 6+ don’t represents a solid and substantial upgrade. However, features like the improved cameras (still just 8 megapixels for the rear-facing unit but video at 1080p and a slow-motion)option at 240 fps) and a 25 percent faster processor (still dual-core and reportedly still just 1 GB of RAM) are more evolutionary than revolutionary, but not unwelcome. Apple Pay sounds promising, and is reportedly expected to add $billions to Apple’s balance sheet from transaction fees, but it’s not re-invention of the wheel. the biggest story is the availability of the 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus, but we all expected that.
Photo Courtesy Apple
However, the iPhone 6 and 6+ with their A8 SoCs, believed to be built with Taiwan Semiconductor’s state of the art 20nm fabrication process, help maintain and advance the iPhone’s technology advantage of offering 64-bit mobile processors combined with a true 64-bit operating system across the board.
Apple claimed in their iPhone 6 presentation that the A8 has twice the number of transistors, and that the iPhone 6 is 25 percent faster than the than the already very lively A7, even though it’s 13 percent smaller and about 50 percent more energy-efficient. However, AnandTech says the iPhone 6 is also said to offer 84x the GPU performance of the iPhone 1, and observes that while last year Apple said the A7 offered 56x the iPhone 1’s performance, we can accurately infer that the A8 must be 1.5x faster.
Whatever, the iPhone 6/6+ can be safely assumed to be a speedy performer. It’s a bit disappointing that a rumoured increase of RAM capacity from 1 GB to 2 GB didn’t materialize, especially casting an eye ahead to the next iPad, where it’s more of an issue. However, 1 GB combined with the A8′s enhanced computing power should be ample for smartphones.
Is the iPhone 6 enough? I expect it will prove to be plenty to revivify iPhone sales quite handily and even claw back some market share. Apple has now erased the screen size advantage Android competitors have enjoyed for the past couple of years as phablet popularity gained traction, and recent surveys indicate that large-screen units will be the hottest-selling smartphone category for the foreseeable future (another thing, like 7-inch tablets, that the late Steve Jobs wasn’t quite right about, with Apple now well-armed to enter the phablet fray.
A solid triple-base hit for Apple, but IMHO short of a home run.