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Will Steve Jobs' Death Help Sell iPhone 4S?

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Mon, Oct 10, 2011 at 8:45 AM

click to enlarge The iPhone 4S. Or maybe the iPhone 4. We can't really tell.
  • The iPhone 4S. Or maybe the iPhone 4. We can't really tell.
Update: Sure enough! In the 24 hours since it's been available for pre-order, the iPhone 4S has almost doubled all previous iPhone records in that period. Apple reports that one million phones have been sold. Stock, naturally, is up as well. Lesson: Grief sells.

Originally posted October 6 at 1 p.m.

Apple fanboys and -girls were bummin' after new CEO Tim Cook's first product launch earlier this week, at which he unveiled the iPhone 4S instead of the much-wished-upon iPhone 5.

But now that the 4S's October 14 release date has been dubbed "Steve Jobs Day," following his shocking death yesterday, the product has been re-branded with the identity of the most celebrated man in America.

Just think what this could do for sales:

If sales at his favorite turtleneck store are any indication, Apple might just turn what was looking to be a lackluster unveiling into an "iSad" memorial turned killer marketing campaign.

Whereas Apple stock went down following the recent announcement of Jobs' resignation, the world's outpouring of love for the company's founder, upon learning he had died, has instilled a greater sense of hope and faith in investors. CNet's business-tech blog reports:

Early trading on the Nasdaq today shows Apple's shares as of this writing to be up as much as 4 percent, to around $384. The company's shares started the day down in the $374-$375 range following yesterday's closing price of $378.25, but have quickly made their way back...

The iPhone 4S makes only small improvements on the iPhone 4. After its launch, a collective groan of disappointment could be heard from the nation's eager techies, poised to rave on a futuristic new smartphone body from the leader in digital design. (Related: Here's our favorite YouTube fantasy for the iPhone 5.) Instead, we got a little faster processor, a higher-quality camera and better voice commands. Snore. See: Dan Lyons' "Apple's iPhone Letdown."

But there's a new sense of loyalty in the air today, if that was possible for a corporation as cultish as Apple. Even the POTUS got misty-eyed:

"By building one of the planet's most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun. And by turning his talents to storytelling, he has brought joy to millions of children and grownups alike. Steve was fond of saying that he lived every day like it was his last. Because he did, he transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world."

"Steve Jobs was one of the few people who had that rock star status in a quintessentially non-hip industry," the president of the Society for Consumer Psychology tells SmartMoney. And "buying nostalgic products is one way of connecting with the past."

In light of this, our prediction: Purchasing the 4S may become another way of paying tribute to Jobs, instead of -- per usual -- complaining about something we don't have to buy if we don't like it.

Th fans won't be camping out on the Third Street Promenade the night of October 13 for Apple's latest bonerkill of a preemptive upgrade -- they'll be camping out for the guy who started it all. What's $300 in the name of a priceless legacy?

And if your heartwarmed wallet hasn't quite burned through your pocket yet, join the entire Internet in watching this:

Yeah. Resistance is futile.

Update: A conspiracy theorist on CNN's iReport asks, "Did Apple name the 4S -- 'For Steve'"? Doubtful, but it makes a good story.

[@simone_electra/swilson@laweekly.com]

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