“That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

For months leading up to the 2011 iPhone release, speculation was running rampant. One oft-repeated rumor centered around the idea that Apple would introduce a low-cost less functional smartphone that targeted the feature-phone crowd (to be called an “iPhone 4S”), and the next rev of the product evolution aiming for the power users (to be called “iPhone 5″).

At the end of the big reveal, Apple did just that. Sort of.

The fact that their low-cost phone was simply a re-pricing of current models should be irrelevant. The low-cost expectation was met – can’t get lower than $0. As for “less functional”, while it will run iOS 5.0, it probably won’t be powerful enough to run some of the more advanced features such as Siri voice recognition. But for the feature-phone crowd, cost trumps all.

Meanwhile, their next-gen is a “world phone” with a dual-core CPU running twice as fast as the previous model, 7x the graphics performance, 64G of storage, an 8MP camera with 1080P full HD video, increased battery life, first-in-class voice recognition, and a dual-band dynamic antenna system that promises to squeeze 4G performance out of 3.5G HSPA+ networks.

Despite substantively meeting the early prognostications, reaction was – yawn – surprisingly negative. And much of the criticism seemed to be superficially related to the fact that Apple’s product naming did not meet the “4S” vs “5” expectations:

Apple unveils iPhone 4S; but no iPhone 5

Apple iPhone 5? Nope. It’s the 4S

Apple iPhone 5 Not Released, iPhone 4S ‘Just Not Good Enough’

iPhone 4S, Not iPhone 5, is Featured Device at Apple Event

No Apple iPhone 5: Major Disappointment, or A Lesson in Hype?

Everyone seemed to be thrown by naming the “next-gen” phone using the label that they had erroneously attributed to the low-cost model. Had Apple called it “5”, would a majority of the reactions possibly have been colored differently? Why so focused on a name?

That “lesson in hype” headline is a particularly worthwhile read. The author rightfully points out that there was no hype. Apple was mum throughout. The “hype” was really “media anticipation” in absence of hype. But let’s go with that premise anyway… Is the next-gen phone worth the “hype”? In many peoples’ estimation, no. Why? Because the “4S” is not “revolutionary”, only “evolutionary”.

Sorry, but what is revolutionary about the ‘missing’ features of an alternative case design? NFC? 4G? Larger screen? These are all things that various competitors currently sport. Features worthy of debate, certainly, but hardly worthy of any revolutionary label.

I’ve said this before, but the only revolutionary phone was the iPhone1, just like the only revolutionary tablet was the iPad1. Both went where no device had ever gone before, carving out a market where there once was none and inspiring competitors who try to match their design and features. The revolution beyond those initial releases will come from the iOS software, not the hardware. The only time I’ll call the next iPhone revolutionary will be if it doubles as a microwave or some other unexpected integration.

The “4S” is still a great piece of engineering, and those who can see beyond a skin-deep name & unchanged case should be pleased. Am I buying one? Probably. I certainly won’t be joining anyone in line on Oct 14, but I will get it eventually. And not because it is hip, cool, or “revolutionary”. No, it will be because it has useful features that allow me to get things done quickly and with the least amount of friction, with the impeccable Apple eye for design, quality, and cohesive integration.

Regardless of whether it is named “5”, “Desire”, or even “iPhone 2011″.

“Doff thy name, and for that name which is no part of thee, take all myself.”

 

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