San Francisco - Apple’s new iPhone goes on sale on Friday with a bigger screen and 4G wireless technology, as the company seeks to maintain its edge over rivals such as Samsung Electronics and Google.
The iPhone 5 met the expectations laid out by gadget geeks and tech analysts ahead of the unveiling on Wednesday, but offered few surprises to give Apple shares - already trading near record highs - another major kick.
“There is not a wow factor because everything you saw today is evolutionary. I do think they did enough to satisfy,” said Michael Yoshikami, chief executive of the wealth management company Destination Wealth Management.
Other industry analysts turned quickly to speculating about what else was in Apple's product pipeline ahead of the crucial end-year holiday season, especially as the company stayed mum about an oft-rumoured TV device or a smaller iPad.
“We would really like to see the iPad Mini in the product offering for the all important holiday quarter. They still have time,” said Channing Smith, co-manager of the Capital Advisors Growth Fund. “As soon as we see that, we will have more conviction about the stock heading into the final quarter.”
Shares in Apple ended the day up 1.4 percent at $669.79.
The latest iPhone comes as Apple faces new competition from Microsoft, which is pushing its Windows Phone 8 operating system as a third alternative to Apple and Google's Android, the most-used mobile operating system in the world.
Analysts have forecast sales of 10-million to 12-million of the new iPhones in this month alone.
Apple has sold more than 243-million iPhones since 2007, and the device ushered in the current applications ecosystem.
But Samsung now leads the smartphone market with a 32.6 percent share followed by Apple with 17 percent, according to market research firm IDC. Both saw shipments rise compared to a year ago, with Samsung riding its flagship Galaxy S III phone.
Going on sale Friday from $199 with a data plan, the iPhone 5 will sport a four-inch “retina” display, ability to surf a high-speed 4G LTE wireless network, and is 20 percent lighter than the previous iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 5 comes with Apple's newest “A6” processor, which executives said runs twice as fast as the previous generation. It will have three microphones and an eight-megapixel camera that can take pictures in higher resolutions.
It will hitch a ride on the three largest US carriers - Verizon Wireless, AT&T and Sprint. - Reuters