Where's the Beef, Apple?

Poor Tim Cook had some mighty big shoes to fill on that stage today. Introducing the next magical Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) invention isn't easy, and Steve Jobs had the presentation down to a science.

So Cook did a fine job in his Southern drawl, and there was nothing wrong with the presentation itself. But we were all left wondering … where's the beef?

As expected, Apple introduced a bushel of new software features, including a nifty voice-driven assistant. The iPhone 4GS packs the same powerful A5 processor as the iPad 2, the new camera is significantly better, and … well …

That's about it. Except for the speedy processor and better camera, most of today's upgrades will apply to older iPhone models stretching all the way back to the 3GS anno 2009. New iPhones also tend to sport sharper screens year by year, but there's none of that action today. Perhaps the bitter feud with Samsung put a crimp in Apple's high-quality screen supplies? LG Display (NYSE: LPL  ) and a gaggle of white-box Chinese panel builders might not have the cutting-edge power that Sammy holds. So just like I thought, there's nothing dramatically new about this new phone.

Anyhow, Mr. Market showed a clear disdain for the lack of truly big news, as everything was a simple next-step evolution from last year's model -- hardly a speck of fairy dust to be seen. During the presentation, Apple's market cap dropped by 6.3%. In other words, the lack of investable excitement destroyed some $21 billion in paper profits in less than two hours. That's nearly half of Hewlett-Packard's market cap or enough to buy Research In Motion twice.

Oh, boy. That hurts. That said, the iPhone 4GS will surely outsell the now-geriatric iPhone 4, which also becomes available in higher and lower-end configurations. The 3GS can now be had for free with an AT&T (NYSE: T  ) contract, and Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S  ) joins the growing army of iPhone sellers. So Apple continues to make a killing even as Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) tries to figure out how to squeeze cash from its hugely successful Android brand.

So if you've been looking for a buy-in opportunity on Apple shares, this might be it. If nothing else, you should add Apple to your Foolish watchlist and keep a close eye on what happens to this seemingly unwanted addition to the iPhone family.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares of Google but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. The Motley Fool owns shares of Research In Motion, Google, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Google, Apple, and AT&T and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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  • Report this Comment On October 04, 2011, at 10:08 PM, greywolf311 wrote:

    I don't understand why everyone is complaining. It has a better antenna, processor and camera. The only other hardware I can think of that is important are the screen, the speaker, and battery. How much can the battery be improved right now? A bigger screen would allow a bigger battery, but also use more energy. The speaker is fine. So the screen isn't bigger. Some of us have small hands.

    The most important thing for phones is the software. Microsoft and Google are bringing new software at the same time. I think this voice recognition software could be a bigger deal than people are seeing. Also, it gathers info to questions through Wolfram alpha. Look up the TED talk by the creator of mathematica to see how important that is. It will get better as it is used. Unsung revolution.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2011, at 2:25 AM, Davewrite wrote:

    "During the presentation, Apple's market cap dropped by 6.3%. In other words, the lack of investable excitement destroyed some $21 billion in paper profits in less than two hours. That's nearly half of Hewlett-Packard's market cap or enough to buy Research In Motion twice."

    the stock went back up and was down only half a percent at close.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2011, at 8:44 AM, demodave wrote:

    I think the "beef" is in a unified manufacturing line.

    Apple no longer has to make one phone for the GSM branch and another phone for the CDMA branch of the 3G tree, and on the GSM branch, the download speeds offer meet the low end expectations of the 4G range without requiring LTE. It's just like what Apple did with the original iPhone - skipping 3G.

    Apple will have a huge audience with its current top-of-the-line iPhone and will correspondingly sell a lot of them. This release will see pent-up demand *and* the Holiday market. AAPL 2012FQ1 should be a monster. I'd really like to see how the iPhone 4S' margins stack up compared to the current iPhone 4, especially in light of the GSM/CDMA split/unification.

  • Report this Comment On October 05, 2011, at 9:47 AM, lucasmonger wrote:

    I think the world is expecting too much out of Apple. As people are thinking "it's been 15 months since the last iPhone release, and this is all we get?" remember iPhone 4 CDMA for Verizon was released last Feb, throwing the annual release cycle out of sync.

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