Historically, when a huge Smartphone launch has taken place anywhere in the world it’s been pretty easy to picture Apple smirking behind the scenes. The company rarely breaks silence other than to show the world its latest and greatest creations, but on these kind of occasions it’s been clear what they were thinking.
Something of a smug “anything you can do, we can do better” attitude, which quite frankly they’ve long deserved and earned. However, things are starting to look pretty different as 2013 ticks by and Apple is for the first time in danger of becoming the underdog in both the Smartphone and the tablet PC world.
Why? Simple really – they’ve continually strung the markets along with slight revamps and S-Series gap-fillers while their primary rivals have been innovating the living daylights out of everything they’ve dreamt up.
Or to put it another way, both the iPhone and the iPad are beginning to look like yesterday’s news.
When the iPhone 5 arrived at the end of last year, it pretty much solidified the problem outright. Despite the fact that it was the biggest and best iPhone to ever hit the market, it was also one of the most boring and uninspiring Smartphone refreshes in recent history. Sure it was faster, sure it had a bigger screen and sure the new camera was great, but technically they were all just modestly polished versions of what we already had.
The iPhone gained fame for breaking the mold and this is something is hasn’t done in quite a long time.
This wouldn’t be the end of the world in its own right, but when you look at the kind of leviathans the likes of Samsung, LG, HTC and Sony are throwing out like there’s no tomorrow, the iPhone 5 in all its glory starts to look like a device that’s barely worthy of a top-ten mention. True, it might still be selling well enough and pleasing folk by the million, but its momentum as slowed right down and it has never looked under so much threat from its rivals.
It’s a similar situation with the iPad too. Apple’s iPad Mini is proving to be a hit and slowly but surely eating away at the standard iPad’s market share. However, with new tabs on the horizon like the next-generation of the Google Nexus 7 and perhaps another Kindle Fire, the iPad Mini just doesn’t deliver the kind of bang-for-buck needed to keep its good name unsoiled.
So, back with the iPhone, what’s Apple to do for 2013?
Well, we’re hearing plenty about a cheap iPhone 5S that will serve up decidedly past-generation specs for a mid-range price, which if true could go on to sell by the tens of millions across developing markets. The only problem is, this would do nothing for Apple’s reputation as an innovator and perhaps mean that a true new-generation iPhone 6 wouldn’t be out until next year.
And of course, chance are plenty of us will have lost interest by then.
The worst case scenario is an iPhone 5S that’s basically just an iPhone 5 on a good day – a little bit faster, brighter and maybe with a new OS to boot. If this ends up being the case, it will be the first time Apple has launched a Smartphone which is by rights close to a year behind its biggest Android rivals on its day of birth and the consequences in terms of reputation and stature could be severe.
All in all, we need something big and we need it sooner rather than later – the days of getting away with the ‘S’ business model are for the iPhone at least well and truly over.