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-rumored 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 Corp, 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.
CEDING A LEAD
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 4-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 8 megapixel camera that can take pictures in higher resolutions.
It will hitch a ride on the three largest U.S. carriers -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc, and Sprint.
One popular enhancement was improved battery endurance -- the iPhone 5's power core can support eight hours of 4G Web browsing.
It has always been a major drawback on Android phones, said Yoshikami. To have a thinner phone with a bigger screen with more battery life is a pretty impressive technology advancement.
Apple's annual events usually adhere to a set framework, but Chief Executive Tim Cook and his management team diverged from that script somewhat on Wednesday. Cook began the event by saying the company's notebooks now rank tops in U.S. sales, leading in market share in the past three months.
Then executives quickly introduced the iPhone 5 and its features, before moving on to a new line-up of iPods and ending the event with a rousing performance by rock band Foo Fighters.
Apple telegraphed many of the software changes to expect in iPhone 5 when it debuted iOS 6, its latest mobile operating system, in June.
The new iPhone will improve on the search capabilities of its Siri voice assistant and will use Apple's own mobile mapping service instead of Google's software. Other additions include turn-by-turn voice directions for navigation, and a new in-house app called Passbook that organizes a user's electronic airline tickets, movie tickets and restaurant loyalty cards.
Earlier, Cook told the audience that its apps store now has more than 700,000 on tap -- the industry's largest library.
Apple also is making headway in a corporate market that has been dominated by struggling Canadian smartphone maker Research in Motion . Cook said almost every Fortune 500 companies was testing or using its iPhones and iPads.
New Apple mobile software to get maps, Siri update
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Not ready for a new iPhone? Don't worry. Many software features are coming to older iPhones as well.
Apple has said that its iOS 6 software will have more than 200 new features, though some won't be available on all devices. The new features include an updated mapping service and better integration with Facebook.
On Wednesday, Apple showed off the virtual assistant Siri giving driving directions. Siri will also let you post Facebook status updates you speak out to her.
There's also an enhancement to email, so you can deem certain people ``VIPs'' and locate emails from them more easily.
announced in June, iOS 6 will be a free upgrade for iPhones released since 2009 _ the 3GS, 4 and 4S models. It will also be available on last year's and this year's iPad models and newer iPod Touch devices. The update for older devices will be available starting next Wednesday.
The software will ship with the iPhone 5 out on Sept. 21 in the U.S., Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the U.K. Advance orders will begin this Friday. It will be available in 22 more countries on Sept. 28.
Here are some highlights of iOS 6:
Apple's mobile devices will have a mapping program, built in-house.
In the past, Apple has given prominent billing to Google Inc.'s mapping app. But the two companies have increasingly become rivals as people buy more devices running Google's Android operating system. Google also has been keeping some features, including turn-by-turn directions spoken aloud, exclusive to Android.
Apple's new Maps application will have a voice navigation feature. It will have real-time traffic data and offer alternative routes as traffic conditions change.
It will also include ``flyover'' three-dimensional images taken by helicopters hired by the company to fly over major cities. Google has been dispatching its own planes to produce similar 3D images.
Apple's map program will be integrated with its Siri virtual assistant so that you can ask for directions and pose other questions.
new software promises better integration with Facebook. The upgrade will enable you to log into Facebook just once, and then you will be able to post to the social network from a variety of apps. You can also post about websites directly from Apple's Safari browser.
Siri will be there to post status updates you dictate to her. Siri will show you what she's going to post so you can correct typos before you approve it.
Facebook will be integrated with Apple's online app store so that you can declare that you ``like'' specific apps there, as well as songs and movies in iTunes.
Events in Facebook's calendar and birthdays of Facebook friends will also appear on your phone's calendar.
IOS 6 will have enhancements to Siri, which interprets voice commands and talks back to the user. It is also coming to the iPad for the first time.
Siri, introduced last October with the iPhone 4S, is supposed to get better at fielding questions about movies, restaurants and other things.
Siri will now be available in more languages and more countries.
Apple also says it's working with car manufacturers to let you use a button on the steering wheel to talk to Siri, allowing you to keep your hands on the road. Apple says General Motors Co., BMW AG and Daimler AG's Mercedes are among the automakers that have promised to offer Siri integration in the next 12 months.
Don't want to be disturbed?
Apple's new software will give you more options for preventing messages and text notifications from disturbing you at night, for instance.
You can control how and when you get back to people. If you can't call someone back right away, you can set a reminder to call that person back later or have a text message sent directly to the caller.
There's a ``call when you leave'' feature that reminds you to call back when you are leaving a building or office. The phone can detect when you are leaving.
Apple's new Passbook feature will be a central place to keep your boarding passes, tickets and gift cards.
When you get to a Starbucks, for instance, the device will bring up your gift card if you have one and if you have the location feature turned on. Likewise, when you get to a movie theater or baseball stadium, the ticket will pop up. Passbook will also alert you to gate changes and flight delays once you have a boarding pass stored.
Passbook could be the foundation for a new digital commerce hub for Apple, though the iPhone 5 doesn't have a ``near-field communication'' chip that enables payment information to be transferred by tapping a device on a terminal at a checkout stand. A few Android phones use this technology to process payments with a feature known as Google Wallet.
Apple's smartphone and tablet shipments by quarter:
Apple has sold some 244 million iPhones since the first one launched in 2007, and it's expected to get a boost from the new iPhone 5 out next week.
Apple Inc. has also sold more than 84 million iPads since the device's 2010 debut. Here's a look at Apple's smartphone and tablet shipments for the past several quarters.
* Quarter ending June 30, 2012: 26 million iPhones, 17 million iPads
* Quarter ending March 31, 2012: 35.1 million iPhones, 11.8 million iPads
* Quarter ending Dec. 31, 2011: 37 million iPhones, 15.4 million iPads
* Quarter ending Sept. 24, 2011: 17.1 million iPhones, 11.1 million iPads
* Quarter ending June 25, 2011: 20.3 million iPhones, 9.25 million iPads
* Quarter ending March 26, 2011: 18.7 million iPhones, 4.7 million iPads