Well, it was one of those few times in a year events when Apple released a new, “great” product. Tons of millions of people were watching, commenting and celebrating the launch of the iPhone 5 on Sep, 12th.
It’s amazing, that even the question about the new iPhone’s name most likely generates more traffic than many other happenings on a global scope. A German newspaper even brings the Apple release sarcastically on the table with the Iranian nuclear program in terms of the world being nervous and everything being top secret. Another comparison goes to the Curiosity mission to Mars with regards that everybody expects something awesome but nobody knows how to deal with it.
The whole PR strategy of Apple is a terrific piece of work, though this time Apple leaked some of the information about the iPhone 5 themselves. Naturally, this strategy works best when you succeed to tie people’s feelings or emotions with your product. Devotees do not simply wait for the release, some of them would probably even consider to sell their souls for information in advance.
However, despite iOS 6 and a few other things, Apple presented a device which is, again, going to attract millions of customers and fanboys in the mobile space. During the last few years, every other mobile operating system than iOS and notably Android seemed to have vanished, together accounting for 85% market share, IDC says. Comparing Apple’s share of 17% with the Android share of 65%, it is important to realize that many players with dozens of devices generate a much broader range of prices and user needs. Besides all the potential patent infringements with Apple, Samsung emerged as the leader for Android with more shipped devices in the last quarter than the next seven vendors combined.
Where does all this lead to?
It is compelling, how Apple manages to stay ahead of the game, even though the innovation rate slows down compared to the first series of iPhones. Apple’s intentions for the iPhone 5 are laudable: LTE, bigger display, faster chipset – but it seems like there are less quantum leaps a year. I mean, who would expect a new device iteration to actually become slower than faster? You cannot re-invent the wheel every year and on the other hand Apple has to integrate few features other players already have (e.g. in terms of camera or LTE). This might be a good change for competitors to grab some land or to catch up, but I assume Apple will strike back with its massive amount of customers using their iTunes universe to engage with music, apps or other media. Apple’s “integrated user experience” is definitely outstanding already, going even further with the Facebook integration in iOS 6. Most important, iTunes and the Apple ID generated a semi-closed ecosystem for payments. The AppStore was a big step forward, but once they make it into broad offline coverage they become … omg.
Although it sounds like a simple commercial for promoting the new iPhone 5, Jony Ive (Apple’s SVP Design) is right by saying that a mobile phone is the “product that you have with you all the time“. Technologies like near field communication or a system like Square are only some options to finally integrate with the whole portfolio. Apple technology already covers entertainment & productivity products like iPods and MacBooks, but the upcoming iPhones could be the devices to connect them all. It’s always in your pocket, talks to all Apple services and might also be used for fingerprint scanning technology in combination with Apple’s announced passport service. Additionally, Apple holds so many patents, who know’s what’s happening next. Though, some folks like Google wil probably know how to deal with it.
I can imagine, many people still think Apple invented portable music players and tablets, but they succeeded in making proprietary devices suitable for even my grandma. I guess lots of your parents love the iPad for instance. With Apple’s speed of releasing new attractions to the market like the iPhone 5, being competitive becomes very hard. Former successful devices and especially mobile operating systems like Symbian have a hard time. No surprise, that for example Nokia, one of the biggest contributors to Symbian, announced a big partnership with Microsoft for using Windows Mobile on their phones.
Lesson learned from iPhone 5?
Coming to an end, the whole story reminds me of the world’s former leading photography & film specialist Kodak. Possessing around 90% market share in the ’80s, Kodak overslept innovation when the digital imaging and foremost digital cameras entered and flooded the market. Such a tremendous leader in photography didn’t manage to adapt quickly enough and entered from one crisis into another. Kodak switched to digital printing in core business and recently even announced to sell its film division.
So to all that clumsy corporates: you better adapt and catch up fast. Until then, I will have plenty of time to see the new iPhone 5 in action.