Tuesday, June 8, 2010

iPhone 4: is that all?

I must say, I was underwhelmed by the iPhone 4 announcement — and not just because of the leaks. Apparently I was not alone.

Most of the hardware changes — like a better camera — seem to be achieving parity with high end phones by Nokia et al, rather than pulling away from competitors.

The 326 dpi screen is the one exception: I haven’t seen it, and it strikes me as the sort of change that could seem underwhelming at first, but over time become a game changer.

The software changes in iPhone OS 4 (now “iOS 4”) — available to most iPhone owners — seem more impressive. Many of them are incremental, but together they should help Apple stay ahead (for now) of its rivals in terms of ease of use. Still, this feels a little like 1991, when Apple was ahead but Microsoft (now Android) was beginning to close the gap.

More seriously absent is the one change that was absolutely essential. To quote USA Today:

Well, geez, I don't like this." Jobs says about network woes during his demo. He moves on to show off differences in pictures with the retina display. And new photos do look a lot better, but the demo to show in the New York Times is failing and Jobs isn't happy.

"Scott, you got a suggestion?" Someone in the audience responds, "Verizon!" Jobs says we're actually on WiFi here.
Still, the aggressive tradein policy by ATT suggests they are worried that some other carrier is coming in 2010. Let's hope that consumers get another option before the year is out.

1 comment:

pridkett said...

The iPhone hasn't had the best hardware, at least from a spec sheet perspective, for most of it's lifecycle. Even when the original iPhone came out in 2007, Nokia phones like the n95 were much better.

What the iPhone does that thus far no other phone has been able to match is quality and integration. Tests of the touch screens show that the iPhone screen is far and away the best, when that's your primary input method, it's a key differentiator -- but one that doesn't show up on a spec sheet. Also, despite all the people talking about breaking their cell phones, the iPhone still is a remarkably durable piece of technology -- the near complete lack of plastic, especially cheap plastic, helps out a lot there. In comparison the HTC EVO 4G -- a great piece of technology, feels like a kid's toy.

Finally, there is the software. Android has some features that iOS doesn't have, not the least of which is an operating system name that doesn't cause network engineers to shudder. WiFi hotspot is great example. Just like the PC has lots of software that do things that the Mac can't. The difference is that the Mac software is integrated and designed in such a way that it works better.

In this case Apple has realized that they don't need to best specs, they need to best overall experience for the most people. I believe that's exactly what they've achieved.

Of course, the real reason why people get a smart phone is the apps -- a market that Apple basically created. Google is doing the smart thing by making Android open, but Apple has such a huge head start and such a large and loyal base of developers, that they don't need to worry (yet). It really seems like we're heading toward another system of multiple dominant players - just like with PCs/Macs/Linux/TRS-80's.