"What's Wrong with 73 Degrees and Sunny?" or "The Genius of the iPhone 5"
It's almost an annual tradition at this point. The rancor and disappointment after an Apple event is both present and palpable. Some choose to join the fray, arguing for or against. Others watch with amusement from the sideline. Most aren't aware of it and will happily go about their lives.
I consider myself the amused. Why the rancor? What does Apple really owe you? The rancor comes from two sides: those that vilify Apple at every given opportunity, and those that demand revolution. This piece will ignore that first party, for those people are inane and there is simply no reasoning with them. This piece is for those that demand revolution, and to those people, I say, "Don't hold your breath."
Before I address the issue of revolution, and when to expect it, I will first discuss the genius of the iPhone 5. Yes, it is genius. The reason you don't see it is, simply, that Steve Jobs, an undeniable marketing guru, has passed, and those that bear the torch have fumbled it. The genius of the iPhone 5 can be summed up simply: the world’s most advanced technology in the thinnest, lightest, and smallest chassis, all while conserving long battery life.
Did you get it? I’ll repeat it again, because Phill Schiller and company failed to expound on this point. Here we go. The world’s most advanced technology in the thinnest, lightest, and smallest chassis, all while conserving long battery life.
The naysayers are all saying things like, “The iPhone 5 is just playing catch up!”, and, “My phone has had LTE for years!” Yes, while all that may be true, you haven’t had these things in the complete package that Apple will offer it in the iPhone 5.
I’ve also owned an LTE phone, and it was just about the worst experience imaginable. It was so bad that I promptly returned my device (a Galaxy S II Skyrocket) on the 30th day of the 30 day return window, while swallowing a massive restocking fee, and grabbed an iPhone 4S at what was ultimately a $300 upgrade fee from an iPhone 4. Why would I do such a thing? The battery life was miserable. I would get, on average, 6 hours of battery life. Not bad, seeing as how the iPhone 5 gets a purported 10 hours of LTE web browsing. Except I wasn’t browsing. That 6 hours was just from standby. Yep, 6 hours of battery life if my phone were to idle and receive push messages. If I were LTE browsing, then 3 hours would be considered exceptional.
I know the Skyrocket S II is not the premier device, but I also know that this is consistent with other LTE devices. The miserable battery life of the Thunderbolt would just be unfair to discuss here. How about Android’s flagship, the Galaxy Nexus? I have a friend who owns the LTE version, and while he loves it, he can attest to the poor battery life. He can commonly found huddling near a phone socket to charge his phone whenever there’s some downtime at work.
And besides the miserable battery life, what else do these phones have in common? Massive chassis. So express all your displeasure at the seemingly small “iterations” of the iPhone 5, and how you had its features a year ago. You don’t have them in the thinnest, lightest, and smallest chassis, all while conserving long battery life.
So when should we expect revolution? Not for a long time. Jobs was famous for saying that he thinks about technology in 10 year intervals. He has stayed true to his word, releasing breakthrough technologies in about that timeframe. Gates expressed a similar sentiment when, in 1997 as CEO of Microsoft, he said, “The world tends to overestimate the change that will occur in 2 years, and underestimate the change that occurs in 10.”
Imagine Gates’ surprise, when the world demands revolution not every 2 years, but every single year.
Sorry, but it isn’t here yet. You can enjoy the small iterations as they come. They happen slowly, but you can appreciate how far we've come if you sit back and look at the humble roots of the iPhone, much like car enthusiasts can see how the newest Mercedes is leagues better than the model from 10 years ago, despite the fact that cars haven’t changed much in 100 years.
But there is no doubt that revolution is coming. It will occur when somebody reimagines the way that we interact with the world and our devices. As it stands, iterations of any touch device will not be revolution, but evolution. This applies to any and all versions of Windows Phone, Android, and iOS. The original iPhone was so revolutionary because it conceived and mastered a touch interface, which was a giant leap from the keyboard/mouse, and hardware buttons that were prominent at the time.
If you pay close attention, you can see what the companies are betting on. Apple seems to have bet on a device you can speak and interact with, a la Siri. Imagine a world where Jarvis, from Iron Man, is real. That seems to be where Apple thinks the future could be. Google has made a similar bet, but has integrated the device’s capacity to predict what you want based on prior behavior and your geolocation. Groovy stuff.
Google also appears to be betting big on a device that you can wear. The user interface for this device is not currently known.
So don’t hold your breath. Revolution takes a long time.