Apple's iPhone 5s/5c Media Event: A Scorecard

The iPhone media event is over. How did Apple do with its announcements? Did we get what we expected? Did it brighten our day? Here's my scorecard.

Phil Schiiler introduced the iPhone 5s (Image credit: Apple)

1. Apple 5c. This phone is everything we thought it would be. The best analysis suggested that it would omit the fingerprint technology, and that's what happened. While the price looks to be only $100 less for starters at the consumer level, there are other considerations. For example, thanks to its plastic and steel design, it may have a better potential to improve margins down the road than at the outset. That's a guess.

It's going to be a runaway success in the emerging markets Apple is targeting. Not to be overlooked is Apple's statement: "... while delivering great battery life ... iPhone 5c comes with more LTE bands than any other smartphone in the world." Thirteen bands make it a true world-phone.

Polycarbonate is a rugged material. It's perfect for harsh conditions. I expect it will find unexpected, serendipitous uses.

2. The iPhone 5s. As I mentioned earlier, Apple has the unique ability to surprise and delight us with technology because the company thinks deeply about what kind of experience it wants to create for us.

At first, the gold color was received with some skepticism, but from what I've been reading, I think it will be a runaway success, especially with women.

In terms of technology, observers were generally at a loss to define how Apple would move the smartphone technology forward. The scuttlebutt has been that the smartphone has reached technical maturity and there is nothing left to do but wait for the next technology revolution. Or throw NFC at imaginary problems. Apple proved us wrong. Again.

The company also gently hinted that health and fitness management is probably better instantiated and tested on the iPhone first. Then, maybe, in the future, we can access some of it with an iWatch in an elegant way.

Apple also realized that, down the road, if apps were to run faster, they'd have to run on a 64-bit processor. The technology is tricky here. Running 32-bit apps on a 64-bit processor doesn't help much, but if the app is re-written for 64-bits, there are gains to be made. Just how much this is appreciated by the buying public remains to be seen.

What shouldn't be overlooked is that Apple has been down an elegant, well-thought out road with 64-bits on OS X and Mac hardware. It has developed an excellent implementation of 64-bit systems and compilers on the Mac. So, as competitors who may have sold out to 32-bits try to match Apple's 64-bit marketing, they could find themselves in a technical bind. Apple likes to do things like that, but it's just a guess.

The lack of 802.11ac will annoy lots of people.  They will whine.  It's probably a battery life issue.

3. iOS 7. This new OS is going to be a shock to many customers. Apple will have a bit of marketing work to do to make sure customers know what it's all about. iOS 7 is elegant, has 200 new features, and exudes style with deep layering and semi-transparency. Overlooked in the Apple presentation may have been the use of Wi-Fi Direct. Here's an introduction.

Personally, I don't think Craig Federighi was allotted enough time to talk about the roll out, the updating of apps, and the fundamental impacts on consumers. As always, the approach is: "This is great, you will want it." But then we are all left to sort out the issues later. I wish there had been some kind of strategy discussed other than, "Just go ahead and install it!" Perhaps Apple should have built an iOS 7 introductory app for iOS 6, a tutorial, that leads one to conduct an informed install or defer until later.

4. iPad. There was a lot to discuss in this media event, and little time to go into the iPad. By the way, the oldest iPad that will run iOS7 is an iPad 2. As predicted by most, there will be a separate iPad event later.

Again, as an aside, if observers had been wondering about what Apple would do to make the new iPads desirable, it's my guess that the new hardware design of the iPad 5 with a thinner side bezel, being thinner and lighter, with a faster A7 processor, and Touch ID technology, all amplified by the features of iOS 7, will be enough to generate the necessary excitement for owners of older iPads.

Based on what we saw in this iPhone event, I have no doubt that the next generation of iPads, in a similar presentation, will surprise and delight us and keep the heat on the competition.


This event was well-balanced. The right products and the right messages (with closing music) were delivered, as expected.

What was unexpected by many was the technical acumen of Apple that allows it to always offer a product whose whole is more than the sum of its parts. Technology should always delight and assist us -- as demonstrated by the new iPhone 5s camera system.

Plus, there is plenty of pent up demand, and just because managed leaks allowed daily observers a glimpse of what would come doesn't mean that customers won't be excited about these new iPhones. I think it would be a mistake to predict that that these products won't set sales records.

In all these respects, Apple scored brilliantly.