When Apple Calls Catch-up Innovation

Author: Sven Rafferty
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

So here we are, post-iPhone 5 announcement and guess what? Nothing envelope pushing. In fact, nothing even surprising. Every leak was true. Every one! While Jony Ives called the iPhone 5 a “complete redesign” (I’m sorry, did his head get stretched, too?), on the contrary, it’s mostly catch-up with whom Apple just sued (hint, hint, Samsung).  In perfect Apple style, with Steve Jobs Smoke and Mirrors, Tim Cook and crew made yesterdays technology look freaking amazingly new!

“The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.”

So states Apple’s web site when you go looking for the details on the 6th iPhone called the iPhone 5. Shaving off some body fat to give it a leaner and lighter feel, the diamond cut shell consists of the two-tone color scheme seen in early prototype images dating years back from the Apple vs. Samsung case as well as reminding one of the first the iPhone. The screen is stretched up – not out – to add an extra row of icons and to give you a true 16×9 image for movies. Storage hasn’t changed in years but the price remains the same. Nice. Oh yes, the camera has a new cover. Oooh! Ya, it’s still the same otherwise. The front camera is at least 1.2 megapixels and can capture 720p video. So last years Android.

Ya, so let’s talk about the Android factor. So while Cupertino’s tech magicians attempt to use their slight of hand to pawn off the iPhone 5 has “the most amazing thing” they’ve ever done, how does it compare to let’s say Samsung Galaxy S III? That front camera? Well, double Apple’s and you’ll then pass its court rival. The screen? The Galaxy S III has 1,280 x 720 versus Apple’s amazing 1,136 x 640. Yes, Apple’s is smaller and it’s 20 ppi better Retina display isn’t that big of a deal. The Galaxy is a wee bit heavier but it’s not even by an ounce. Tell me you can feel that? Earlier benchmarks show the iPhone barely running faster than the months old Galaxy. NFC? Are you kidding? Phil Schiller says Passbook is way better! Screw NFC!

The iPhone 5 does not even support simultaneous voice and data on Verizon and Sprint networks that AT&T has been doing for four generations now. Don’t worry, though, the Samsung Galaxy S III does support this feature on LTE networks such as Verizon’s due to some true engineering know-how. But don’t sweat it people, remember, this is “The biggest thing to happen to iPhone since iPhone.” Now that I think of it, wasn’t there a handful of 3G phones available when the original iPhone with EDGE (2.5G) released? Sorry, got distracted.

The truth is, the iPhone 5 is all catch-up and nothing revolutionary. I wouldn’t even call it evolutionary. This is the exact issue Apple had with the Macintosh back in the 80s when it rocked the computer world with a truly stunning computer. Apple seriously put personal into the personal computer. But like Apple letting Microsoft along with IBM steal its thunder and push the envelope with Windows and the PC while it kept trying to tell the world, “Hey, look at how cool we are!”, Apple once again is repeating history with doing nothing and calling it something. Last weeks keynote was the first in over a decade that had no surprises and was – if you’re honest with yourself – a let down. Everything the iPhone 5 is the Android market has had in Motorola, HTC, and Samsung for months if not over a year in the case of LTE. Even when Ford put on a new skin to the Fox body Mustang in the 80s, everyone in the automotive world still knew it was still the crapy old 70s car with some new hardware. That’s what this is iPhone is, a third re-iteration of a tired design with a new engine under the hood.

So how do you sell 2 million iPhone 5s in just one day of pre-orders? And that’s the million dollar question. One thing Apple does still have down is sex appeal and that’s what its products produce. Even though there’s only a new coat of paint on a stretched out canvas, it’s still cool looking and all the hip people will have one. Additionally, to give credit to Apple, it’s operating system is still more refined, stable, and polished than the fragmented and heavily customized interface per vendor offering from Google. Buyers also know that all iPhones from the last few years will get a brand new update all on the same day unlike the guessing game over in the Android camp. But note my words, this will be the last time Apple will enjoy such sales as it will the iPhone 5. Google is snapping up companies left and right to tighten the noose on Apple and as soon Android is able to get sway over iPhone users over with some migration plan away from the Apple halo as well as tighten up the Android operating system, we will be calling Google the new Microsoft and Apple the, well, the same Apple of the 90s once again. Learn from your past Apple and push the envelope all the time or be doomed to repeat it.

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