More Coverage: Apple introduces the iPhone 4S -- Full Specs
On the Eve of Apple's Event: A Preview
U.S. & World
We are tantalizingly close to another Apple launch, likely the latest in the colossally successful iPhone lineup.
There will be faithful members of the Apple posse lined up for the announcement, as practice for when they line up for the new phone itself.
There will be press from all over the world (trust me on this one -- I've gotten emails from no fewer than three countries in the last week, asking if I know where their invites might be), waiting to see if we were right or wrong on the newest features, carriers, price, etc.
But lest we get too excited over an individual phone (or, heck, multiple phones if Al Gore was right), let's take a step back.
The iPhone is now something of a commodity. A hot one, no doubt, but it's built into the tech ecosystem. Entire companies have been built around creating apps and other content for the iPhone, so, Facebook-like, it's a generator of jobs, wealth and innovation all on its own.
For that matter, a new iPhone alters the carriers too. AT&T and Verizon continue to battle for new subs, but AT&T has 84 percent of all iPhone users. They will likely offer special deals to retain the newest flood of subscribers.
The handheld device has certainly changed the phone game, too, where every new phone is compared to it. Apple itself is now the standard for gadgets. When new phones or tablets come out, we ask, "Can it perform like an Apple?" or "Is it priced low enough to sell against an Apple?".
For example, we know that Hewlett-Packard tablet got it wrong because of the performance and pricing. It seems Amazon, on the other hand, may have gotten things right.
Either way, whatever we see, the familiar chain reaction will start: Many of us will look, touch, and decide whether or not to part with our money. Entire companies will look, touch, and likely decide to alter their strategy going forward.
That's what happens when you're built in.
NBC Bay Area Technology Reporter Scott Budman is sending live updates from the Apple event.