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Ever since last week, when Apple emailed out invitations to an event at its headquarters in Cupertino, California, there had been strong expectation that it would be the launch party for the new iPhone. That proved to be correct, with two new versions of Apple’s most valuable product revealed today by CEO Tim Cook, IOS head honcho Craig Federighi and marketing chief Phil Schiller.
Previously, Apple has only upgraded the iPhone with one model at a time, but the big change this year is that they have simultaneously launched a premium version (the iPhone 5S, now available in three differently-coloured aluminium finishes) and a cheaper version (the iPhone 5C, made of hard-coated polycarbonate in a choice of several colours rather than metal). Both run IOS 7.
Along with various tweaks in performance, such as screens, camera, battery life, a notable new feature is the addition of a fingerprint identification system for unlocking the phones as well as for authorising purchases from iTunes and the App store.
There is nothing here to immediately suggest Apple has provided a firm answer to the question of can it continue to innovate enough to maintain its growth, but the ‘Touch ID’ sensor could be a step forward for Apple should it choose to pursue a mobile payments strategy that would allow the company to usurp the fees that currently go to credit card companies.
The phones will be launched in China on 20 September, which is the first time that China gets a new iPhone on the same date as the US and major European territories, which is significant, given that the iPhone C is seen as being Apple’s push to conquer the Chinese market.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the day was the news that the iPhone 4S will continue to be sold and that the iPhone 5 will be phased out instead.