Boy, does Apple’s iPhone 4S event feel like it happened a long time ago. In fact, it was less than a week ago, and as you may recall, many observers declared the new phone to be a disappointment. But now Apple has released pre-order data, and it seems to suggest that real folks are excited about the 4S. A million people pre-ordered in the first 24 hours, breaking the iPhone 4′s record of 600,000 in the same period.
Why the disparity in reactions? I can think of a few reasons.
1. It all depends on what you’re upgrading from. True, the 4S isn’t a radical upgrade from the 4–even its name tells you that. But in a country of two-year phone contracts, the most important upgrade market for the iPhone 4S isn’t iPhone 4 owners–it’s iPhone 3GS ones. And the 4S is a major improvement over the 3GS in multiple respects. (The iPhone 3GS owner in our household can’t wait until she moves on up to the 4S.)
2. Lots of Verizon customers who wanted iPhones skipped the iPhone 4. Along with the rest of us, they thought there would be an even newer iPhone in the summer of 2011. They turned out to be wrong. But they’ll get their first iPhone when the 4S goes on sale on Friday.
3. Sprint. Its loyalists now get the chance to buy an iPhone for the first time.
4. The new camera. If it lives up to Apple’s claims it is a major improvement over the 4′s camera. And lots of us use our phone cameras so much that getting a dramatically better one is as compelling as an upgrade can get. (It’s the biggest reason why shelling out the bucks for an upgrade sounds like something I might do.)
5. The never-ending abiity of pundits to be unimpressed by Apple keynotes. I think people forget that “this was a disappointing keynote” is almost always a common reaction. (Some people even managed to be bored by the original iPhone. Even if Apple had released an iPhone 5 with a strikingly different design, that would have been the case. Pundit reaction just doesn’t map to real-people reaction.
If you’re a real person–or even if you aren’t–what’s your reaction to the iPhone 4S now that the initial post-keynote hubbub has faded?