By Patrick Avenell

After a week of feverish anticipation, Apple CEO Tim Cook today unveiled not the iPhone 5 but the iPhone 4S. Rather than the Yerba Buena Center where Steve Jobs so frequently tread the boards to announce new hardware that delivered on expectation, Cook returned to Apple’s Town Hall in Cupertino to reveal what is essentially a refresh to the iPhone 4 line-up.

Unlike Jobs, who emanated enthusiastic confidence, Cook paced nervously on the stage while delivering his first keynote since assuming executive control. True to Apple form, there was plenty of back-patting, with Cook bizarrely claiming that only Apple could put a staircase inside its new Hong Kong Apple Store. Either Cook was stating the obvious or he was claiming a new development in iStaircase technology. It was momentarily distracting.

This was followed by a short video (set to the song 'Sleeping Lessons' by The Shins, a departure from Jobs’ Beatles love) showing the Apple cult in full swing at a store opening in Asia. Apple does retail exceptionally well: something Cook promised more of during his reign.

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After a discussion on Macs which only seemed to be included to stretch the presentation out past 90 minutes, a refresh of the iPod range and various sycophantic quotes from noted Apple fanboys in the media, Cook then revealed the iPhone 4S.

Apple has suffered this week from enormous expectation. Because the company doesn’t reveal what products will be announced when invites are sent, the media and tech followers swirl in a hurricane of expectation, with Apple in the eye of this storm, always choosing to stay calm — and silent.

By the time Cook didn’t reveal the iPhone 5, such was the disappointment – almost indignation – that social media sites have been swamped by underwhelmed observers. As this article is written, seven of the 10 trending topics on Twitter are Apple-related.

Although a letdown for some, the iPhone 4S does have significant updates from the original. The camera is now 8-megapixels and there’s Full HD 1080p video. The new A5 processor promises faster operation and there’s Siri, a voice activation tool that must be tried and proven before anyone believes it a panacea. All this runs on iOS 5, which promises 200 new features.

The iPhone 4S will be available in black or white in Australia on 14 October 2011 at the following pricepoints:

16GB – RRP $799
32GB – RRP $899
64GB – RRP $999

The handset will also be available from carriers, with Telstra confirming they will sell the iPhone 4S at launch, though not revealing plans.

As a result of this release, the iPhone 4 (8GB) will be cut to RRP $679 and the 3GS (8GB) will be RRP $449.

19 May is an interesting choice of dates. Venerated as Malcolm X Day in the United States, it is also Ho Chi Minh's and Pol Pot's birthday. It is also the date the first Apple Store was opened, in Washington DC.

The new iPhone 4S features Siri, which is a voice activation program that can make calls, access apps and set your calendar to remind you it's your father's birthday on 19 May. That's good news for rugby league great Andrew Johns (born 19 May 1974).