The reason for 4m sales of iPhone 4S? Monkey scrabble, of course

Steve Dinneen
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I have written a lot about the iPhone 4S. Before I ever laid hands on one I had churned out countless paragraphs, covered each twist in the saga, vomiting Apple stories like some grotesque human Rube Goldberg machine.

If you threw all these words into a bag, shook it up and handed it to troupe of monkeys, they could maintain a giant game of Scrabble right through the process of evolution without having to reuse a letter. By the time they’d lost fur, fashioned rudimentary weapons and started killing each other, they’d be subliminally programmed to worship and adore the 4S, having seen the letters repeated so often in The Holy Word Game That We Have Always Played Since Time Immemorial. This would explain how Apple managed to sell 4m of them in just three days; the very mention of its name triggering something primordial in people’s brains, leading them Pied Piper-like to the doors of the Apple store.

Of course, there are problems with this theory. The monkeys may have ended up worshipping the Opsi4n Eh instead, having never seen the letters put in the right order, and that doesn’t even exist. What a pointless civilisation that would have been. And how would I have travelled back in time to give the monkeys the words? It would imply I was some god-like figure. And that’s for you to say, not me.

Anyway, I don’t get paid to write about monkeys. I do that for pleasure, in my spare time, from the comfort of my own bedroom. Whatever the reason for the record 4S sales – and let’s not completely rule out Monkey Scrabble – it’s done pretty well for itself. Especially given that, on the face of it, it’s identical to the last one. The iPhone 4 is a great phone; the 4S just builds on it, like putting a pretty roof garden on a skyscraper. Put the two head-to-head and you can see that the 4S – which has a dual core A5 chip – is quicker, with better load times and faster browsing. But it’s an incremental change; a second here, half a second there.

Other improvements are more striking: graphics render noticeably better – if Nintendo was a person like me or you, rather than an intangible company, it would be holding its head in its hands, wondering who is going to buy its 3DS console now – and the eight megapixel camera catches up with the top end of the market.

But the 4S’s best trick, its star attraction, is Siri. Using voice recognition software usually involves repeatedly smashing your head against a wall of incomprehension. Siri is different. After getting to grips with him, which takes a while to begin with, it's hard not to be impressed (in the UK Siri is a stern gentleman. In the US she's a woman. It's not clear why). Yesterday I told Siri to send me a reminder when I stepped outside my flat to go back to collect my lunch, which I forget daily, like an unintelligent animal, unable to learn from my mistakes. Through geo-mapping and the new Reminders feature, he did; as I went out he told me to turn around and look in the fridge. Pret is now £4 poorer. This could be the start of a beautiful relationship.

The 4S won’t be enough to convince the Android hardcore to jump aboard (even if you set fire to their ship they would take their chances with the inky blackness of the ocean). For everyone else, the 4S pushes Apple a little farther out of reach.

iPhone 4S, available from