So, here we are, the newest iPhone is out, after so much noise that my head will still ache for a few days, and that I will laugh like a madman from time to time thinking about the die-hards who waited in tents in front of Apple Stores for days just to be the first to get the gizmo.
I’m sure that you’ll agree: nothing in the world is more important than being the first, worldwide, to have the latest iPhone.
Sarcasm aside, there is much more than the iPhone 5 to the latest Apple event at Yerba Buena.
Apple has released iOS 6. So far, so good. Everything is perfectible, and I’m not an expert (because experts don’t exist. Unless you are someone who knows everything and thus has nothing more to learn) so I won’t review it.
What was striking was not Cook’s cockiness. We are now used to it.
No, no, no. The most striking and frankly irritating point was… hardware updates.
Let me clarify:
Apple’s focus on form factors was great as far as the new iPhone is concerned, but it killed one product: the iPod Nano.
The new factor is detrimental to the Nano. The square form factor was absolutely perfect (only considering that hardware can be something near to any kind of eye-pleasing and usability perfection).
There was a potential outlet for wrist-held devices. They didn’t see it, or didn’t deem it worth any effort in this direction. This is playing safe, or being lazy.
The previous iteration proposed many different clock styles as backgrounds, while still being a touch-screen iPod (the wheel is getting old) with all the coolness Apple products may have, and although it could appear more like fun or childish than anything else, it was a step in a direction worth being explored.
Now we see ads for a “square form factor” product in an ubiquitous way. Ever seen this gadget called “i’m Watch”? Google it.
Back to the previous Nano, the gym rats’ best friend.
Let’s put ourselves in Apple’s hardware design teams’ shoes:
What is (was) the Nano?
Is it a gap-filler?
Is it an experiment?
Who’s the target customer, both for function and budget?
Is the Nano another also-ran?
Don’t you think all those questions could have been real questions? I think they could.
Now, if a product has only a short-term appeal potential and oversized ROI, is it worth it? Apparently, it was.
Today, it’s a bit of a messed-up product. Who is really, strongly believing that a 2″ screen and round icons will cut the mustard? Any cheapo spin-off could look and feel like the latest Nano.
Apple never did so bad. Granted, the Newton wasn’t a success, but the OS and programming language used for it proved useful in then future Apple products… Like the first iPhone, like iTunes, too.
Hardware and software are tightly integrated and always were for each Apple product. It seems like the new Nano is an exception to the tradition.
Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t stick to the past like if my life depended on it. I simply cannot understand the hardware modifications brought to the Nano.
Let’s examine the other risks ahead.
The iPhone’s form factor has reached a limit. Yes, it can still be held with only one hand while having a bigger screen, yet there is no more room for improvement. It will likely be a rectangle-shaped device with round corners for the rest of its life and iterations… The only thing constantly changing is its thickness and weight.
Will Apple make an iPhone as thin as a sheet of paper and as light as air? Is it desirable?
Hardware modifications are not limited to the screen. Apple once again ignores everything and goes its own way.
The new “lightning” plug (a word play with “thunderbolt?) is obviously the one thing irritating returning Apple customers.
While I applaud the reversible capability of the plug, I loathe Apple for making it harder than it ever was to get and stay up-to-date (think MagSafe 2).
I can’t help but thinking that “lightning” is the most shameless way to force customers with older products to buy adaptors, new docks and other accessories. Of course, the new iPhone’s performances couldn’t be what they are if the room needed for the plug wasn’t significantly reduced, I know that.
To me, this smells greed. How many iPhone users have upgraded to the 5? Enough to sell a ton of adaptors and make even more profit.
It is not a secret: Cook and Browett (retail SVP) are bean-counters. If they can maximize profit, they do.
While the whole IT world is working hard to agree on a standard plug size (an issue since times immemorial), Apple brings again its “think different” mindset.
This is stupidly “short-termist”. We’ll see if it is a really bad move. All I can tell is that the Apple communities and forums’ members are already complaining about the issues I brought in this post.
To Apple, I would like to say: “forget this think different slogan and think twice instead!
PS: I am not using form factor and hardware in a mindless way. One determines each other. To me, form factor and hardware are very tightly linked.