Opinon – Thoughts on the Apple event

Opinon   Thoughts on the Apple event

Now that the dust has settled, I’ve had a chance to think about the announcements that Apple made on Tuesday, without getting caught up in the heat of the moment. Overall, I think Apple did well, even if they left many disappointed.

iPhone 5S

Flagship phones are getting more and more boring. There simply isn’t much to do beyond the obvious: better screen, SOC, camera etc. Apple have done all that (well, except the screen, but it’s already top quality), and added a fingerprint sensor to boot. It’s a solid update to an already great phone.

The fingerprint sensor is particularly exciting. It looks like Apple have done to these what they did to touchscreens with the original iPhone: make one that actually works. No messing around, no swiping, no multiple swiping! Just touch and unlock. This could be huge: much more secure than a four digit code, and massively quicker and more convenient. Motorola may have got there years ago with the Atrix, but then Microsoft were also making Pocket PCs before the iPhone. We all know how that turned out.  

The 64 bit chip is a nice first, but I find it hard to get too excited by it. I already think that phones like the iPhone 5 / Moto X / Nexus 4 are powerful enough. Don’t get me wrong, more is more, but extra power is way down my list of priorities for a new phone. Still, Apple can hardly be marked down for this, and it should be far more exciting in the next iPad. It is noteworthy though how they will ignore specs when it suits them, and then play them up when it favours them. To be fair, they’re hardly alone with this.  

The M7 processor looks interesting, and follows a similar path to that of the Moto X. Anything that increases functionality while not impacting battery life is welcome in my book. I can see this being copied fairly widely, but I doubt it’ll get the same developer support on Android. I don’t use anything like a Fuel Band or Fit Bit so can’t really comment about the implications, but there definitely seems like a lot of potential here.

 iPhone 5C

It isn’t cheap. No one should have expected it to be. But it’s not even really cheaper, at least for consumers. It’s $100 less than the 5S, but then in the normal order of things the 5 would have gone down to this price point anyway. It’s a lower quality, much uglier iPhone 5, that is cheaper (and more profitable) for Apple to produce. The consensus is that it’ll sell more as it’s perceived to be new. I’m sure that the colours will appeal to some/many, but I’d much rather have a beautiful iPhone 5 for the same money.  

It’s still a great phone. It’s just no way near as nice as an iPhone 5 (IMHO), and not cheap enough in relation to the 5S to tempt me. I’m not against plastic, but if I pay a premium price I want my phone to really feel premium. I buy Nexi because I want a Google experience, and accept the inferior hardware as a function of the bargain price. I’d rather they charged more and made something better.

No doubt, the 5C will massively outsell the 5S. There are more than enough people who are happy to pay $1500+ over two years, but not an extra $100 for a markedly superior phone.

I wouldn’t expect Apple to make an unprofitable iPhone, but if Google could break even on the Nexus 4 (one year ago) at $299, I’d love to see what Apple could make for $399.

Free iWork apps

This is a nice bonus, and for most people is all they’ll ever need. I use Office all day at work, but happily make do with Google Docs at home. In fact, it may force Google to make Quick Office free for all users now, rather than just premium Apps users.

Office will still be the gold standard for a long time to come, but in the consumer space its days are numbered. I’ve used this analogy a lot recently, but it’s just like consoles and casual games. Consoles may be better, but they’re rapidly becoming a niche of the gaming market, which is largely dominated by touchscreen smartphone/tablet games.

A lot is made about Google devaluing hardware (ironically to the detriment of Android OEMs and not Apple), but Apple is also doing a great job devaluing software. It just became even harder for quality apps to justify their premium ($5+!) pricing.

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  • Carlos Willis

    the fingerprint is a cool idea, but…i cannot justify paying THAT amoutn for it especially when something like the THL W8S, or the MI3 from XAIMI offer just as good or if not better performance and just as good usability for a quarter/third of the price.

  • Paul

    Smartphones already cater for most people, so innovation in this area is drying up. The cameras on smartphones these days (4MP and higher) are perfectly adequate for what most people use them for, sharing or catching that moment on a still or video. GPS works fine for location tracking, Sat Nav etc and the software Apps fill in the gaps elsewhere. The only major downfall on all the latest smartphones, and they all suffer from it, is battery life.

    Until an improvement in battery power and consumption is introduced where a smartphone will last days and not hours on a full charge, all we are going to see on these events is speed or camera enhancements, extra memory/storage and fancy “gimmicks”. Apple’s new iPhone 5S is a prime example of this.

    • the_prof

      Well, the thing that gets me is that I think the other big manufacturers (out of necessity more than anything) are still innovating at a good rate. Apple have the power, market position and influence to actually give us all the things we really want out of a device, but IMHO, they are playing the long game.

      I am very heavily involved with battery technology in my professional life. I happen to know that the technology to power a smartphone for over a day using a cell less than a twentieth of the size of the ones in current smartphones, yet recharge in a few seconds is just around the corner. I have witnessed the technology with my very eyes. In fact, this technology could influence so many great things in this world.

      If Apple were that way inclined, they could plough just one quarters worth of profits into an open scheme to develop the manufacturing processes to allow this technology to come about. They could help develop battery technology which would change the world. I’m talking batteries which could power a family car for 300 miles, yet take up a space (and weight) little more than a fuel tank, and charge in around the same amount of time it’d take you to fill up your car at the pump. What’s in the way of this? Intellectual Property Rights, patents, copyrights and the like. The bottom line is, there’s very little in it for their bottom line. It’d cost them 100 billion (to get to market), and they might be the first to the table with it, but it’d only put them in a privileged position for a short-time, and certainly not long enough to recoup their investment. They wouldn’t hold the rights to the tech, so they aren’t interested. Same goes for the major car manufacturers – similar at least, so they are all biding their time until the Hydrogen Fuel infrastructure is such that they wouldn’t really have to change their vehicles that much (i.e. least investment possible). Great, isn’t it?

  • martin clinton

    I must say I was a little surprised at the cost of the 5C, isn’t it basically a redressed iphone 5 in a plastic case? I’d have expected a bit more of a price reduction to be honest.

  • Martin

    I hate Apple for doing this (Samsung, HTC et all do it as well but just not as expensively). My missus has been an iPhone user since the 3gs and upgrades every two years (at my expense) and it is now upgrade time :( She currently has a 4s and likes it, there is nothing wrong with it but of course she now wants the 5S and a gold one at that! I’ve no idea at the moment how much it’ll cost me, I’m hoping as a loyal O2 customer I’ll get it for less than £200 for the 32gig version. It takes a really long time for the upfront costs on the iPhone to come down. I personally do not think iPhones are worth the new prices, but you have to keep the missus happy huh? :( This is the reason I never have a new phone, the child and missus take all my phone funds!

  • bobguest_82

    You sir, have no idea what you are talking about.