The iPhone is Boring.
In announcing the 10th anniversary iPhone yesterday, Apple really only offered a whole lot of gimmicks and design refinements. It’s time to face it: the iPhone is boring.
I’ve been developing for iOS for almost 5 years. I have had some of my greatest personal, professional thrills and breakthroughs in imagining new apps and features to deliver to users. But yesterday’s announcement was a complete let down on the hardware side of the platform. Not only has the iPhone become boring, it has become unimaginative, bland, completely lacking in originality. Larger screens? Samsung did it. Edge to edge displays, Samsung did it. Facial recognition, well, ok nobody really nailed that one yet however it’s highly unlikely anyone would have demanded that in the first place (ok, it’s innovative, but like, is this the most important feature to be focusing R&D on?). Also: Animojis??
As it stands, the iPhone delivers the highest-grossing margin in the smartphone market. But that market has become a commodity market. No longer is a touchscreen mobile phone a novel or exceptionally innovative product.. no matter what apps it can run. All of these smartphone devices are now simply part of the 21st century infrastructure of how life operates. The iPhone is also almost Apple’s entire business. To be fair, it is by far the most functional, most reliable, most secure, and most exciting platform to develop for in all of Apple’s product platforms. But it’s also the only reason they have ~250 billion dollars in the bank and stashed off-shore.
From my perspective, Apple depends on the iPhone to such an extent that they have become completely risk-averse, which has compromised the bold and visionary product that it used to be.
Apple is spending its time working on beautifying products instead of figuring out what truly comes next in mobile and wearable technology. Ambient computing, from smart watches, to AR glasses technology, is clearly the exciting future of mobile tech. The best example of this actually occurred yesterday when the Apple Watch was announced to now support LTE. Theoretically, an Apple Watch Series 3 owner could leave their iPhone at home. That’s a potential game-changer for how a lot of us move through the world on a day-to-day basis.
Instead of using the 10th anniversary of the iPhone to be bold, to launch a new, revolutionary mobile product category, risk-averse Apple handed us a boring bag of things we already know about, some spec upgrades and a bigger screen iPhone. No magic, no revolution, and hardly deserving of the now completely meaningless “one more thing” moment.