Apple's iPhone 4S Takes Small Business 'Siri'ously
Today, Apple raised the curtain on its long-awaited fifth generation iPhone -- the iPhone 4S.
In the wake of its new product launch, Apple finds itself in a unique but not necessarily unfavorable situation. As industry analysts largely concur, this may be the first time we've seen Apple's operating system spark more talk than the devices that will run it.
It's All Under The Hood
Apple fans have already begun likening the iPhone 4S to a new vehicle that, despite its higher price tag, appears surprisingly similar to last year's model. In the case of Apple's next-gen iPhone, the real value is similarly under the hood, so to speak.
Since early summer, no shortage of market watchers and tech journalists have pegged the new iPhone to become the preferred mobile device -- for both consumers and small business owners. And given today's demonstration of the device's strongest new attributes, it's clear why that prediction may ultimately prove accurate.
Siri is Sensational for Small Business
Apple truly wowed its audience today with the iPhone 4S and its inclusion of Siri -- the well-known personal assistant software acquired by Apple in 2010. The arrival of Siri in iOS 5 will allow iPhone owners to use voice commands to access information and accomplish tasks.
Based on the example provided by Apple, Siri understands context allowing you to speak naturally when you ask it questions. If you ask, “Will I need an umbrella this weekend?” Siri will know that you are searching for a weather forecast.
Siri is "an intelligent assistant that helps you get things done just by asking," Apple says. And that isn't an exaggeration. Siri is a surprisingly sophisticated virtual assistant for your smartphone and it will all but certainly prove a highly attractive feature for small business owners looking to save time.
iCloud Data Storage and Management
Of course, we also can't forget to mention iCloud, Apple's new solution for digital content storage and management. Apple contends that iCloud will work seamlessly with your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or PC to automatically and wirelessly store content and push it to all of your devices.
"When content changes on one device, all your other devices are updated automatically and wirelessly," Apple says.
In this regard, iCloud data storage will likely translate to increased convenience, better compatibility, and greater security for your small business, its documents, and other integral data that will now be backed up and accessible at all times.
Equally attractive to small business owners will be iCloud's price -- free. That is, 5GB of online data storage will be made available free of charge, with users having the option to purchase additional storage space.
iOS 5 will arrive as a free update on October 12. It is compatible with the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, iPad, iPad 2 and the 3rd and 4th generation iPod touch.
In a move that bestows the greatest iPhone carrier-flexibility to date, the iPhone 4S is a so-called "world phone" that is compatible with both CDMA and GSM networks. The iPhone 4S will be available in the U.S. on AT&T, Verizon, and Sprint. With the need often arising for small business owners to switch carriers for any number of reasons, the availability of the iPhone across the top three U.S. carriers will certainly make the handset exponentially more attractive to far-roaming users.
If the iPhone 4S is right for you and your small business, you won't have to wait long to get it.
The iPhone 4S will be released October 14, with preorders commencing October 7. Black and white versions of the iPhone 4S will be made available: 16GB for $199, 32GB for $299, and a new 64GB version for $399.
Michael Essany is a business writer for Intuit and is passionate about solving small business problems.