It’s been 7 years since Apple introduced the iPhone and through those years we’ve seen incremental upgrades and some hardware design upgrades. Apple held the top spot as king of the hill for a very long time but as we all know, time changes things. The Apple iPhone 6 is due to be released in September and here’s what it will need and what Apple will have to show in order for it to be a hit.
Disclaimer: what you are about to read is my opinion, generally called an editorial.
A Briefing Before The Point
For the longest time it seemed Apple could do no wrong. Everything it touched was a success and they were the leading player in the mobile market. From the iPhone to the iPad, people wanted those shiny devices emblazoned with the Apple logo. It didn’t take long for people to associate others who owned an iDevice as someone who was hip. It became a status symbol. That’s not to say that everyone who bought or buys an Apple product is hip or buys it as a status symbol (although there is a small subset of people who want you to believe that).
Lately a little known company named Google has been working extremely hard on their own mobile OS, Android, which started just around the same time iOS and iPhone was being worked on. It’s taken Android a little longer to catch on to the market. It had it’s issues. It was sometimes buggy, sometimes ugly and sometimes just plain unusable. But as I said earlier, time changes things. Fast forward to just about 2013, maybe 2012, it can debated and you’ll find Android starting to overtake Apple in the mobile space. So why is that?
Android became smoother. Android became beautiful and Android became usable. That’s right, for the first time Apple was feeling some pressure from the folks at Google’s Android project along with Google’s OEM device manufacturers. Android also offered many more options. As Android is an Open Source project (also debatable but we will leave that for another day) there are a very nice handful of device makers who utilized it’s power, including HTC, Samsung, LG, Sony, Huawei, Oppo and many others. Suddenly the consumer is faced with a plethora of choices all of which are high quality, usable and beautifully made. The Android OEM’s were making devices with larger screens, customizable software aesthetics and unique hardware features. While Apple remind quietly, the same.
Sure there was the iPhone 5 and its bump up to a 4″ screen, which really came a little too late for the company. At that point Android was offering some phones with 5″ screens or better. You can’t really fault Apple for trying to stay with a proven recipe. I mean who would have thought we would have 5.5″ screens (and sometimes 6″) on a smartphone? Steve Jobs famously said:
“3.5 inch handset size is the “sweet spot” for mobile phone design; big enough to produce detailed, legible graphics, but small enough to fit comfortably in the hand and pocket.”
Steve Jobs was wrong. My respect for Steve Jobs doesn’t cloud my ability to see what the consumers ate up and that was larger screens. I think Steve was probably correct in a sense though; people wouldn’t want a larger screen in the chassis that were being built in 2007, 2008 and 2009. It took some time and some great designers to give us larger screen phones that you’re still able to fit in your pocket and hand. In this case Steve was just being stubborn. So, the iPhone 6 is being released with larger screen(s) you say? Sure, but is it too late?
Yes, Apple is finally releasing their iPhone with a larger screen than 4″. 4.7″ to be exact and possibly a 5.5″ version. I have no doubt that Apple’s hardware design is going to be spectacular and of high quality, they’ve always made great hardware. But the Android OEM’s have had a few years head start on them in this department and it now feels like Apple is playing catch up (check out Jason Bouwmeester’s write up). Bumping up the screen size is just one half of what Apple needs to do to find its feet again though, there still remains one major part it seems they refuse to truly refresh, the software.
iOS has virtually remained the same since 2007, sure iOS 7 has brought in a more appealing flat design with some nice goodies like Control Center and the Notifications pull down (ideas certainly inspired by Android). But it still remains the same grid of icons with little personality to it. Steve Jobs missed the boat when it came to larger screens, refusing to understand the consumer. Tim Cook could be making that very same mistake but this time with software. Let’s face it, it’s time for a refresh, no no an overhaul of iOS Mr. Cook. People want to give their software a little personality these days. From what I’ve seen of iOS8 there are some changes that are going to be well received and frankly, should have been there two years ago. But I’m still seeing the same grid of icons in a constrained space that the user is forced to live with.
It’s time Apple, it’s time to swallow the pride and revamp your OS, the people want it, just look at the Android numbers. Kudos to you for finally caving on larger hardware, now suck it up one more time and pump out something great. Sure you’re going to be called out for copying Android and the fanboys on the opposite side will mock you and throw things at you, but who cares? Don’t NOT make changes because you fear being ridiculed, make changes to gain back your market share because a larger phone might not be enough.
All that being said, I will be getting the iPhone 6, I’m a sucker for new tech and I am intrigued by a larger screen iPhone. But I fear that if iOS 8 isn’t as drastic a change as it should be, Apple will continue to lose users. iPhone 6 could be a turning point for Apple, it could turn them around for the good, or it could damage them even further.
Featured image courtesy agemobile.com.