The tech product tipped to singlehandedly boost the U.S. economy has finally been unveiled, as Apple CEO Tim Cook launched the iPhone 5 in San Francisco on Wednesday.
No “never-before-seen” features emerged but plenty of enhancements have been added to the slimmer, bigger screened handset.
The eyes and ears of many a business development officer, chief technology officer and product manager will have been keenly trained on the launch, as Cook described the updates as the most significant since the product’s original debut in 2007. 20 per cent lighter and 18 per cent thinner than its predecessor, the iPhone 5 was quickly described by one observer as “like a piece of fine jewelry.”
Features to fight competitors
The competition, however, is fierce. Phones running Google’s Android OS are set to bag 60.3 per cent of smartphone sales (up from last year’s 46.5 per cent) while Apple is forecast by Gartner to claim 22 per cent of the market (up from 18.9 per cent). Apple’s response has been to expand the screen size for the first time from 3.5 inches to 4 inches, allowing for a fifth row of homescreen icons and capturing more information from websites without the need for scrolling.
Other features include an improved camera, 4G connectivity, a revamped processor (“A6”, which, games developers will note, is reputed to be twice as fast as the old A5), and a new dock connector to keep up to speed with developments in wireless connectivity. But perhaps the biggest new development is yet to make its appearance – the new operating system, iOS6, due to be rolled out on September 19th and widely anticipated to be accompanied by an avalanche of new updates.
But there was also some rain to dampen this parade. In a tersely-worded statement, Taren Stinebrickner-Kaufmann, who heads the corporate accountability watchdog “SumofUs.org”, criticized Cook for failing to address news that unpaid “intern” labor by Chinese students was used by Apple supplier Foxconn to produce new USB cables for the phone.
She said, “Apple is hoping the buzz around the iPhone 5’s release will drown out criticism, but as demand for iPhones has increased, so has the demand for faster and cheaper production, and factories churning out phones are also churning out forced unpaid overtime, wage cuts, and hazardous working environments.”