The New iPhone 4: What It Means for Apple and AT&T

by: Siddharth Dalal

I've been following all the liveblogs online and have everything investors need to know about Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) new iPhone.

So far the most significant thing about the iPhone itself that we didn't know since the leaked iPhone is that it has a gyroscope. That will make the iPhone the leading development platform for mobile gaming until someone else adds one. The rest of the stuff is nothing as great or as magical as Steve Jobs would like you to believe.

The other significant thing is the improvement in image quality and the great HD video quality. I'm not sure how the EVO stands up to this but I'm sure the iPhone 4Click to enlargedifference will not be significant except maybe in the quality of the video editing tools. Android will probably catch up quickly.

One more thing was multitasking. Finally iPhone OS has caught up to everyone else there.

The most significant thing not directly related to the technology is that AT&T (NYSE:T) will let users upgrade now as long as they are eligible at any point in 2010, that is, six months in advance. This should drive sales.

I don't know if Apple has had bad snafus like the one they had this time where NYT wouldn't load on the iPhone 4 [during the demo]. Steve Jobs conveniently blamed it on everyone else using the wifi. But it worked for the 3GS and everyone else, just not the new iPhone. So maybe that thing's revolutionary antenna is not so revolutionary. It was funny when someone from the audience shouted Verizon (NYSE:VZ) when that happened.

It was disappointing to see that video conferencing will be wifi only for a while. Considering how long AT&T took to deliver tethering, I wouldn't hold my breath for that on 3G anytime soon. EVO, anyone?

In a nutshell - The iPhone 4 has some new features, some of which are part of iPhone OS 4 and some of which related to the hardware. The software ones will mostly be available as a free upgrade for most older devices. Considering that iPhone revisions happen only once a year, other manufacturers will catch up soon. But so far the iPhone maintains a hardware lead.

Some other highlights:

  • iPhone OS was renamed iOS and Steve Jobs introduced the new iAd platform and claims that it will take nearly half the mobile ad marketshare for the second half of 2010
  • Nearly 1 billion in payments have been made to developers
  • Other impressive stats about app downloads etc. were given
  • You can play Farmville on your iPhone soon. Another nail in Flash's (NASDAQ:ADBE) coffin.
  • Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is coming to the iPhone.
  • Bing (NASDAQ:MSFT) search was added to the iPhone.

So far the announcement has been a non-event for the stock, which is down about in line with the market. This is what I expect to continue until sales numbers are announced at some point. The early upgrade option will really help numbers in my opinion. The only bad thing here is the end of AT&T's unlimited plans because this iPhone is finally a serious competitor hardware-wise to the other phones out there and will consume more data than ever before. This is the time for unlimited plans and caps much higher than 2GB. AT&T's network has some suffering ahead.

Final conclusion - this should be a non-event for both companies' stocks until some numbers are announced.

Disclosure: Long AAPL