Apple Rolls Out That Old-Time Dazzle

We’ve known what the top story of today would be way before Apple formally sent out its invitations for yesterday’s unveiling of iPhone 5 and assorted accoutrements and other stuff -- new iPods, a release date for iOS 6 and redesigned iTunes, among them. The products –- real and phantom -– have been widely blogged and videoblogged about (and covered in old-fangled media, too). The headline above Keach Hagey’s piece in the Wall Street Journal today says it all: “Media Ecosystem Feeds on Anything Apple.”



Leading with an anecdote about a blogger who gave up his six-figure IT-director job to make more money writing 24/7 about Apple in 9to5Mac, Hagey writes: “The public's bottomless appetite for Apple news, such as Wednesday's unveiling of the latest iPhone, has turned producing media about the company into big business, regardless of the medium. That is because the Apple story merges the high advertising rates typically associated with technology news with the mass-entertainment appeal of one of the business world's greatest stories.”

Indeed, the headline on the Journal’s lede story by Jessica E. Vascellaro suggests that there may be a whole lot more sizzling going on than the amount of steak in the pan would normally justify: “Is Apple's iPhone 5 Boring?” it asks, going on to list some Android widgets, features and niceties that reviewers find lacking in the new iPhone. (Still, iPhone customers are more satisfied -- at least up to now -- than Android users, as we report below.)

As for the essential product details, “Apple still thinks you’re too stupid to change the battery in an iPhone,” writes Shelly Palmer. “But, other than that, judging only by specifications – not the actual performance of the iDevice -- the iPhone 5 looks like a winner.” 

It’s thinner, lighter, faster, has a bigger display, a more literate Siri, runs the upcoming iOS 6 and contains an 8-megapixel camera that shoots 1080p HD video. “Know that if you don’t order immediately (on Sept. 14) you will wait -– this phone will sell out immediately,” Palmer says. It actually goes on sale Sept. 21.

The iPhone 5 also has a smaller, thinner connector on its base, as was widely rumored to be the, ahem, case. It’s a feature that “Thrills Apple’s Partners” -– namely the companies that sell about $2 billion worth of add-ons and accessories in the U.S. alone –- “But Will Cost Users,” as the headline atop Brian K. Chen’s piece in the New York Times, tells us. (In the print edition and online this morning, in fact, that story takes prominence over Nick Wingfield’s coverage of the actual unveiling of the products.) 

“The Lightning port, as Apple calls it, is smaller and shaped differently from the old one, instantly rendering obsolete the millions of spare charging cords, docks and iPhone-ready clock radios that its customers have accumulated over the years,” Chen writes. Apple is selling a couple of adapters (for $30 and $40) but they will not work with all of the accessories.

You can watch Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller describe the features of the iPhone 5 on CNN.

The new version of iTunes for Mac and PCs is “a major update to the company's digital media desktop software, with built-in iCloud support and a redesigned user interface,” CNET reports. It will be released sometime next month.

The new iOS 6, with “Apple-designed maps, new Siri features, Facebook integration, shared Photo Streams and over 200 other new features,” will be available for downloading on Sept. 19. The OS is compatible with older devices.

The redesigned iPod Touch is larger, thinner and lighter than “the already svelte new iPhone,” and features the same processor, writes Jamie Lendino on It’s primarily for “gamers, streaming radio fans, movie watchers on the go, or anyone who wants to run iOS apps without signing up for an expensive iPhone contract,” he says.

What about that smaller, cheaper version of the iPad that was said to be taking on Amazon directly? Not this time. After yesterday’s iPod news, in fact, at least one reviewer is scratching his head over where an iPad mini would fit in.

“Apple's decision to price the iPod touch starting at $299 doesn't leave much room for the iPad mini. Would the market support a price of $350 when a full-sized iPad 2 costs $399, and the latest model only another $100?” asks ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes. But there’s apparently no accounting for what Apple zealots -- who are willing to shell out $9 for a wrist strap -- will spend their shekels on, he concludes. 

Apple has uploaded all 117 minutes and 45 seconds of yesterday’s event, including a live Foo Fighters mini-concert that wrapped things up on a few energetic notes. So take a gander at how the Cupertino branding whizzes transform a press release into a revival meeting, then untuck your shirts (check out the photos in the New York Times’ Nick Bilton’s live blog entry at 02:02 p.m.) and start practicing your own version of “The Turn” -- that part of a magic trick that makes something ordinary look extraordinary, as TechCrunch’s MG Siegler blogs.

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