Wednesday’s launch of the new iPhone5 perhaps generated as much advance publicity and speculation as any new product launch we have ever seen, and the comments surrounding the launch have continued non-stop.
So what have they been saying?
It would seem appropriate to lead with the introductory remarks by Tim Cook, Apple CEO, “It’s an amazing time at Apple…I feel the need to be the best….We don’t view our products as a checklist of features…this is the biggest thing to happen to the iPhone since the iPhone.” (Most of the press in attendance gave Cook decent marks for his role, which was more or less introductory and not starring, with many commenting that “although not having a Steve Jobs presence he looked remarkably similar to Jobs in many ways”.)
Minyanville, however, said “Cook missed a major PR opportunity” as they reported on the comments of watchdog group ‘Sum of US’, who continues to say, “One of the very specific goals is that we want Apple and Foxconn to be abiding by China’s labor laws, which they’re not.” </p>
“iPhone 5 is the most beautiful consumer device that we’ve ever created,” said Philip Schiller, Apple’s senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing. “We’ve packed an amazing amount of innovation and advanced technology into a thin and light, jewel-like device with a stunning 4-inch Retina display, blazing fast A6 chip, ultrafast wireless, even longer battery life; and we think customers are going to love it.” (the official iPhone5 press release)
Shiller added live, “It is an absolute jewel.” Schiller showed “untouched” photos from the phone saying, “the ocean looks bluer” and “kids look happier” and “the world is a more beautiful place”. (13wMaz.com)
“Wozniak Hopes iPhone Photos Beat His Samsung Galaxy’s” –Bloomberg, saying Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak added, “A better quality on the pictures will mean a lot, because when I show people pictures on my iPhone 4 and my Galaxy S III, they always say the Galaxy S III, or even the Motorola Razr, pictures look better.” (We have seen numerous interviews with Wozniak where he seems to adopt this “well they didn’t consult me” attitude, although always with a sense of humor). Mr. Wozniak has also been in the news for comments on the recent Apple court ”win” versus Samsung, saying he disagrees with the verdict and is not sure it will hold up. But “free spirit” and engineer at heart that he is, he takes it to a more fundamental level, saying, “I wish everybody would just agree to exchange all the patents and everybody can build the best forms they want to use everybody’s technologies.” (Yahoo)
“The new iPhone sales could boost GDP by $3.2 billion in the fourth quarter, or $12.8 billion at an annual rate. That is an increase of 0.33 percentage point in the annualized rate of GDP growth” –paraphrase of an analysis by JPMorgan’s chief U.S. economist Michael Feroli, as reported by the WSJ. (hmm, the math likely might hold up but not sure the logic does…if GM builds and sells a hot new car, does that mean those sales are incremental and not at the expense of another new car sale?)
Now, on to some of the varying reviews of the product itself, its place in Apple’s product cycle, and some analyst stock comments.
Regarding the product itself, reviews were all over the place, with one camp definitely in the “it’s only the expected incremental change” camp versus those of the mind “it’s a game changer”.
“When you see the magic show too often, magic starts to fade away…it is a very solid device, but it’s nothing that we haven’t seen from others in bits and pieces. However, the iPhone has become indispensable for many Americans,” –Roger Entner, analyst at Recon Analytics. (USA Today)
“When you actually touch it and have it in your hand, you know you have to have one. It is a real epiphany.” –Brian Marshall of ISI Group (CNBC)
“Siri can now make restaurant reservations. Or it may just be a new source of hilarity.” –NY Times
“It is lighter, faster, better than the Samsung Galaxy. It is the gold standard. It will be just one of several positive catalysts for the stock over the next few months…this is going to be the biggest launch in some time. Although supply constraints are not as bad as feared, it may be hard to get one fast without an early pre-order.” –Peter Misek of Jeffries (Bloomberg TV).
“If you are happy with your IPhone4S, there is no compelling reason to upgrade to an iPhone5.” –Slate, in a piece titled, “No, This Is Not The Best iPhone Ever”.
Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray “lifted his iPhone shipment target to 27.2 million from 22 million for the September quarter, given the more aggressive launch plan.” –MarketWatch
“Design thrills Apple’s partners, but will cost users.” -NY Times, referring to the new dimensions of the iPhone for things such as protective cases and the new “connector”, called “Lightning”, which immediately “renders millions of iGizmo gadgets obsolete”, as CNN Money puts it. Fortunately, adapters will become available to help overcome some of the issues, but at a cost. APPL’s Shiller had to answer many questions on this point and in effect said, “At some point you need to make the move to the next, better product generation”.
And Mashable was reporting, “Apple will generate about $40 million in revenue in the next fiscal quarter from customers worldwide paying for cables that work with the iPhone 5′s new dock connector and at least $100 million in revenue from the new cables over the course of the next year.”
Goldman Sachs upped its “Conviction Buy” target on AAPL to $810 from $790 on the back of the launch, saying, “We still expect the new iPhone 5 and iOS 6 to serve as a powerful driver of earnings upside in the December quarter and into 2013.” –Benzinga (and according to CNBC, Eric Jackson, the founder of Ironfire Capital, has a $1,650 price target over three years …no joke)
Forrester’s Charles Golvin took a broader view in his blog, saying in effect, “This is no longer about an individual device. It’s a battle of the ecosystem, and the iPhone 5 will markedly increase Apple’s pull, already the strongest out there. ” (While we buy the ecosystem battle argument, there is no denying that Samsung has made some serious gains in the global smartphone market, with total share at 32.6% in the latest figures, up from 17% YAG. Apple was at 16.9%, down from 18.8% YAG, all figures according to IDC Research).
And finally, Connie Guglielmo of Forbes summed up the bottom line:
“Is it a big enough change in design and does it have exciting enough new features to get people – tens of millions of people — to buy it…? If you ask the analysts, the answer is yes.”
And after some very indecisive stock action Wednesday until a push into the close, the market agreed today, with AAPL setting yet another new all-time high Thursday, hitting $685.50 and closing at $682.98, just about a +2% increase and up $13. (Of course the Fed-driven rally did not hurt either). Reports now out that pre-orders for the iPhone5 sold out as expected in the early am hours Thursday night, though some reports that pre-orders from some carriers still available. (Of course, one can always wait in long lines when it hits the Apple retail stores).
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