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Sep 13, 2012

The Worst Thing About the iPhone 5 Is Also the Most Brilliant

The iPhone 5 is many things. It's a pinnacle of product design. It's a mild annoyance for iOS app developers. It's very probably the next phone you buy. And it's also, by broadconsensus of the people who follow these things, totally boring.

Of course it is. Anything else, at this point, would be insane.

It Ain't Broke

It's easy to forget, with as much emphasis as Apple puts on its biannual show-and-tell extravaganzas, that its primary objective isn't to entertain us. It's to sell iPhones. Millions and millions and millions of iPhones.

The iPhone 5 will be on shelves on September 21st, which is one week before Apple's fiscal year ends and the holiday quarter begins. How important are those three months to Apple's bottom line? Last year during the same period, the iPhone 4S drove Apple's smartphone sales to 37 million units, and an overall profit of $13 billion. To put that in context, that's more money than Google made in all of 2011.

Those numbers aren't just impressive. They're unprecedented. The iPhone is the most valuable asset of one of the most valuable companies in history. So the question we should be asking isn't why didn't Apple make it more exciting. The question is—other than the standard spec and feature bumps—why would Apple change the iPhone at all? There's a reason Coca-Cola's used the same formula for a hundred years.

That's why, when we say the iPhone 5 is boring, we really mean the iPhone 5 is safe. It's familiar. It's the same phone in slightly different packaging. And, most importantly, it's still very recognizably the most popular smartphone in the world. If you've won the first two legs of the Triple Crown, you don't suddenly trade in your thoroughbred for a one-eyed pony because it's more interesting to look at.

Playing It Smart

Not being boring requires taking risks, and risk is not something Apple does. Not anymore. Why would it? It can skip out on 4G for more than a year after its competitors have it and no one blinks an eye. NFC? Wireless charging? Pass, thanks. And Apple will keep playing it safe until iPhone sales decline. That might be boring, but it's also just good business.

And it's always been like this. The original iPhone didn't have 3G. The iPad didn't have a front-facing camera. USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt both came after PCS had embraced high-speed standards. Apple doesn't make products for early adopters. It makes products for the billions of people who buy things they can easily access and understand.

The worst part? In a vacuum the iPhone 5 is actually really exciting. For whatever half-baked features it skips out on, it's still technological marvel, and may well prove to be the best smartphone you can buy. If the worst thing about it is that it's not different enough from a phone that tens of millions of people a month spend hundreds of dollars to buy, well, that's fine.

The Boring Future

The only thing that will change the iPhone's design is a dramatic decline in iPhone market share, but that doesn't seem in the offing. Not any time soon, anyway. It takes years to slow down a juggernaut.

So get comfortable with your boring iPhone and your boring iPad and your boring MacBook Air. They're that way because they have to be. Because we want them to be. Because it's the only way that makes sense. Complete Solution for Business or Home

1 comment:

YeamieWaffles said...

If you think about it for the iPhone to have the continued success it is that they yearn for they need to update the phone at least once a year. These updates are going to keep happening for years and years to come so playing it slow is actually smart if you think about it. I agree with you, while boring it's sticking to the tried and tested form and while that continues to work then they have no need to change if that makes sense?