Yeah Yeah, New iPhone

Photograph showing Apple Newton hand held comp...
Here it is, the iPhone 5... Wait.

Who would have thought this day would come? The day when they release a boring iPhone.

The 4S is by no means a minor update. It is significantly better than the 4. Dual core. iOS 5. The 8 Mpx camera alone will be enough to change the minds of many waverers. But it is a consolidation, a strategic market repositioning, not a shock. It perhaps takes back the lead, after the Galaxy S II being seen by many as the new messiah. But it’s still neck and neck, and that is not what we have come to expect from an iPhone release. On its day of launch, the latest iPhone is supposed to be the most desirable piece of consumer electronics on Earth. Unequivocally.

It’s Tim Cook I feel sorry for, Apple’s new CEO. In place of the showman, they’ve got the man credited with the sound strategic business decisions. Decisions like closing down Apple’s manufacturing in the US (and indeed, Ireland) and moving it to such questionable locations as Foxconn‘s giant plants in China. It is just his misfortune that his first product launch happens to be of a rather strategic and businesslike update to the iPhone.

But people are bound to say that if Steve were still in charge, there would have been surprises. Steve would have taken some feature of the new iPhone – probably Siri, the voice recognition ‘valet’ – and make it sound like God’s personal gift to you. Actually no, Steve wouldn’t even have presented us with something as lacklustre as mere voice recognition. It would have read your mind, and granted desires you had not yet even consciously formed. Steve could do it, why can’t this phone?

Yeah. Basically people are mostly just missing Steve.

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3 thoughts on “Yeah Yeah, New iPhone

  1. I suspect it’s part of a move to a two-year product cycle, since that’s what most US consumers are contractually locked into with their wireless carriers. If you have an iPhone 3Gs from two years ago (as I do) this is unbelievably cool; if you have an iPhone 4 from one year ago then it’s neat, but not a game changer. A year from now (maybe a bit less) they’ll release the iPhone 5, which will be awesome for iPhone 4 users reaching their two-year point but not jealousy-making for most iPhone 4s users.

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  2. Hmm. I think if the iPhone 5 isn’t jealousy-making for 4S users a year from now, then Apple would be in trouble. Up until now every release introduced a burning reason to upgrade for every user, but (unless you’re a Sprint customer of course) the only real reason here is Siri and I think too many people will feel like a complete dick having a chat with their phone for that ever to be huge. (Also it was bought-in, previously available as a free app, so that lacks the usual theatricality.)

    If anything, this release fuels speculation about the iPhone 5, as now it really *has* to be good… Two underwhelming releases in a row and the magic will really start to rub off.

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  3. With the exception of the original iPhone, I can’t remember people not being underwhelmed by the hardware upgrades of each generation iPhone. Every time, whether with the 3G, 3GS or 4, people were talking about it having features that should have been in the previous phone.

    A lot of it reminds me of the scene discussing the deficient government by the Romans from Monty Python’s Life of Brian. Like someone with a 3GS talking about the disappointing hardware differences holding him back from upgrading. I mean, besides the faster processor, secondary camera, double pixel density screen, wireless n, gyroscope, more sensitive antennae, superior GPU, increased battery capacity, higher internet speeds and vastly improved camera… what has Apple really improved upon the hardware compared to the 3GS?

    On the other hand, hardware seems to be reaching a ceiling, performance-wise. Smartphones aren’t used for the really computation-intensive operations. Heck, most of the time you’re only actively using a single application. So, it becomes tough to differentiate on performance and hardware.

    Still, for the iPhone 5, I think there are three area’s that Apple should focus on, which they got away with neglecting this time, but probably won’t be able to do a second time:
    – screen size. The 3,5″ is a fine screen, but people want slightly more viewing area. This has implications for pixel-density, of course.
    – Connectivity speed. Right now, the whole “it has no LTE” thing is a bit of a hollow phrase, as LTE is not up and running on a large scale. HSDPA works fine. Current LTE-chips are also battery depleters. As with the original iPhone, Apple has shown that it can get away with being a step or two behind the latest and greatest in mobile internet speeds… but it can’t afford to lag too much more than that!
    – NFC. I think this is what people would’ve expected Apple to have added. It’s one of those ‘revolutionary’ technologies that can really make waves in the way we do business and use our phones. Perhaps they’re waiting to work out contracts with the credit-card companies. It’s an area in which they run the risk of letting Google take a huge lead, whose commodity OS-model will allow them to be much more nimbler in implementing NFC once it’s ready for prime-time.

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