Tuesday, 18 October 2011 13:11

iPhone 4S off to quick start; iCloud so-so



Apple claims to have sold more than four million iPhone 4Ss over its debut weekend. iOS 5 and iCloud takeup got off to a good start, despite some teething problems.


Apple reports it sold more than four million iPhone 4S handsets over the three days following the 14 October launch. That compares with sales of more than one million iPhone 3Gs, a similar number of iPhone 3GS handsets and 1.7 million iPhone 4s in the corresponding periods.


One difference is that Apple added more countries to the 'first release' list for the iPhone 4GS. Where the iPhone 4 was initially available only in the US, France, Germany, Japan and the UK (with a second round of countries including Australia around a month later), the iPhone 4S debuted in the US, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan and the UK.

That's not to suggest that Australia was solely responsible for the extra 2.3 million sales. However, Apple has been a market leader in Australia until very recently.

The iPhone family has been outselling Android until the third quarter, when Android pushed ahead. This could be partly explained by the arrival of inexpensive unlocked Android handsets from LG and Huawei at Woolworths and related outlets, as well as the debut of some rather slick upmarket models from Samsung and HTC, but according to the Sydney Morning Herald, Telsyte analyst Foad Fadaghi reckons the iPhone's dip was just temporary and caused by people delaying purchases until the arrival of the next model, which we now know is the iPhone 4S.

Apple does not disclose local figures, but it seems reasonable to assume that the new handset is pulling its weight in Australia.

What about the iOS 5 and iCloud takeup? Please read on.



Apple says that more than 25 million copies of iOS 5 were in use five days after its release. Take away the four million iPhone 4S sales and that still leaves 21 million, despite fairly widespread reports of problems in downloading or installing the update during the first few days.


Those problems were apparently due to the heavy load placed on Apple's servers, mirroring to some extent the launch of MobileMe. However, people experiencing issues generally tend to shout louder than those who don't, and this writer has heard from more users who had a problem-free early upgrade experience than those who ran into problems. That's not to deny the existence of the problem, merely to put it into perspective.

While all those 25 million were entitled to sign up for iCloud - along with the six million Lion users, though there is presumably a significant overlap between the two groups - only 20 million or so actually did. Possible reasons for the discrepancy include a disinclination to store information on Apple's servers, a decision to let other people be the guinea pigs, and a desire to stick with MobileMe for a while longer.

Why would you keep using MobileMe when most of its features that didn't make it into iCloud will still be available? Quite simply, to maintain access to what for some users is a key feature - the synchronisation of Dashboard widgets, keychains, Dock items and System Preferences - is no longer available after moving to iCloud. Other discontinued features (iWeb publishing, iDisk and Gallery) remain available until June 30, 2012 even if a user migrates from MobileMe to iCloud.



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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.



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