Tech Apple's Big Failure With The iPhone 5

Published on September 12th, 2012 | by Steven Hodson


Apple’s Big Failure With The iPhone 5

Apple's Big Failure With The iPhone 5

As just about anybody who read any tech related news today it was pretty hard to escape the announcement that Apple had released iPhone 5; and admittedly the response from around the tech blogosphere has been pretty mixed but at this point no-one is falling down in front of the alter of Apple proclaiming it to be the next best thing.

What’s headed our way when the iPhone 5 hits the shelves

Before we look at what was the big failure of the day it might be an idea to see just what people will be getting with this next version of the smartphone that can do no wrong. So here is the quick and dirty run down courtesy of Geekosystem:

  • 20% lighter and 18% thinner than iPhone 4S
  • 1136×640 resolution 16:9 display that measures four inches
  • Five rows of icons on homescreen due to larger size
  • New A6 chip that’s twice as fast as the A5 in iPhone 4S
  • Compatible with 4G networks outside the United States, including LTE
  • Battery: 8 hours of 4G talk, 3G or 4G LTE web, 10 hours of video, 40 hours of music, and 225 hours on standby
  • Camera: new dynamic low-light mode, panorama shots, shared photo streams
  • FaceTime via cellular networks, finally
  • New “Lightning” connector that can be plugged in at either orientation

The thing is that just about everything on that list was a part of the massive rumor mill that has been working overtime prognosticating what miracles the iPhone 5 would bring us; but the simple fact is that there is nothing miraculous about it. To make matters even worse this is what people were expecting – there were no surprises, there was no “one more thing”

In the end there was no Apple magic.

One of the things that you were always able to count on in Apple of the past, the Age of Jobs, was that secrecy was paramount. Nothing but absolutely nothing got past Apple PR and you generally only found out about what Apple was going to be presenting when Steve Jobs stepped out on stage and started to spin his magic.

Sure there were the occasional leaks but to publish them would mean having the wrath of Jobs come down on you like a ton of bricks, unless of course you were allowed to have the right sources within the company and you agreed to play the game by Apple’s rules.

But that was the magic of  Apple, that was the power it had, that was when information was locked down so tight that it was able to create a mystique about everything it did and every product it was creating. It was that mystique that kept the Apple faithful coming back year after year to hear Jobs present the world with the next greatest gadget the world couldn’t do without. It was that mystique that has help to create one of the wealthiest companies in the world.

When reality can’t meet expectations

Part of the problem facing Apple right now is that they could very potentially be running out of ways to innovate any more on their greatest innovation yet. Even with the iPhone 4 and the second generation of the iPad the company has played its Ace high full house which means that where once they were the innovators they are finding themselves becoming the evolutionists rather than the revolutionaries.

Sure improvements cane be made, sure new and better features can be introduced but in the end the company is dealing with the same design and form factor that was once revolutionary. The problem that arises though is that the faithful what Apple to be the revolutionary, they want Apple to be the company that changes the world again.

Except that Apple can’t live up to those wants from the faithful, at least not right now, which means the company has to find some way to manage people’s expectations when it comes to the current crop of gadgets being created by the company. They need to get the faithful use to the fact that revolutionary isn’t going to happen and that they will have to get use to things just being evolutionary.

Managing the lowering of expectations

Throughout the Jobs history of Apple secrecy was the overriding mantra. Nobody outside of the company, and even people inside of the company, ever knew exactly what was Jobs’, or Apple’s, sleeve. We might have gotten the occasional peek into what was coming but we never got the full picture and if anyone ever did get close, closer than Apple wanted, that person would suddenly find themselves facing the full brunt of the company (anyone remember that Apple rumor website that was getting incredibly accurate information only to get an offer from Apple that they couldn’t refuse and then shut down?).

Even in the early days of the iPhone it took some pretty dam clever detective work on the part of bloggers who delved into shipping records and purchasing records in order to post even the slimmest of rumors. Now, in the months leading up the the release of the iPhone 5 we were getting all kinds of ‘leaked’ information from specs to to images like we have never gotten before; and even more important their accuracy rating was pretty phenomenal.

Typically there are a couple of ways to deal with peoples expectations, especially when you want to lower them. The first, and totally anti-apple, is to come out and basically let people know that tome device isn’t going to be the dream device they have been wanting but instead would be incremental.

The other way is to make information, reliable information, easily available to those in the position to get the information the most attention; and needless to say that when it comes to Apple information there are plenty of ‘reliable’ people willing to help spread information; which is exactly what I think happened here.

The failure comes when you find yourself standing beside the pedestal instead of on it

Since the introduction of the first iPhone Apple has been the biggest player in the creation of a whole new technological world, and that continued with the first iPad. Both the fervent fans of the companies and tech bloggers helped place Apple on a pedestal of being an innovation god. Apple could never do wrong and it was to be the driving force for continually driving change in our technological world. The company was being setup to fail at some point.

Now by fail I don’t mean go bankrupt or come out with a totally screwed up product but rather fail at keeping up the mystique of the infallible company that would always been the major force for technological change. This fail, or decline if you prefer is most evident with the arrival if the iPhone 5.

There is no revolution, there is no pushing the technological boundaries. Sure there are some evolutionary improvements but even those are really minor.

What Apple has done with the iPhone 5 is prove that it is just like every other tech company out there and that maybe its days of pushing boundaries are coming to a close.

image courtesy of Slashgear



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About the Author

Steven has been around the tech world long enough to see most of the stuff we think of cool happen before which leads to a certain bit of cynicism that has contributed to him being known as the cranky old fart of the Internet. Besides sharing some of the goodness that he finds with you here at 42x you can also find him curating some digital goodness at Winextra (tech type stuff) and Rotten Gumdrops (for your daily dose of WTF).

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