Are Apple’s days as a trailblazer and leader in innovation over?
Before I start discussing the iPhone launches, let me clarify that I have an extremely rare condition called bi-OS. No. It is not a sexual orientation. It simply means I am just as comfortable going to bed with an iPhone as I am with a Samsung or any other Android device… we all have our pre-bed smartphone rituals, don’t we?
Throughout my life I have very comfortably switched between PCs and Macs and between Android phones and iPhones. Hence, because I am capable of carrying a normal conversation without descending into a rabid rage when it comes to talking about the specs of one idolised brand over the other, I feel I can write an objective piece on the recent launches by Apple.
In a single quarter, Apple announced the launch of three smartphones – the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus (which will be available on September 22) and iPhone X (expected release date: November 3).
However, it seems that when it comes to the features on offer, Apple is playing catch-up with Samsung. Wireless charging, curved edges, and ultra high screen resolutions have been standard Samsung features for some time, but Apple is publicising them as if they are innovations that have just shaken the smartphone industry. Just watch the new commercials! Also worth keeping in mind is the fact that while the actual screen size of the 5.45-inch iPhone 8 is 4.7 inches, Samsung’s S8 delivers an impressive 5.8-inch actual screen size for its 5.87-inch phone.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the iPhone but I’m thoroughly disappointed with the developments that have taken place following the death of Steve Jobs in 2011. I think iPhone 6 onwards, Apple just sat on their laurels assuming people would simply buy an iPhone because it is an iPhone. In fact, the ‘defining’ feature of iPhone 6 versus iPhone 5 was… a larger screen size! Their current urgency to launch three phones within a single quarter shows they have finally woken up with a start. I just wish they had offered something new and truly innovative.
Apple needs to change and bring back its aggressive focus on true innovation instead of just gimmickry.
I don’t want to get into a more detailed feature-by-feature analysis as there are plenty of those online already. My primary concern is to address why Apple is behaving the way it is. It worries me because the brand has always positioned itself as a leader. This positioning is its bread and butter and was earned by being the leader in innovation and technology. The tables have turned. If you go to the brand’s page right now, the ‘All new design’ section offers:
– Durable glass (really?)
– Glass on front and back (So Samsung 2016)
– Wireless charging (Samsung had it in 2015)
– Water and dust resistance (The current S8 is actually more water-resistant)
The most touted new innovation is the Face ID, which embarrassingly failed in the middle of the launch demo.
As a marketer, Apple is a case study for me. They made a cult out of a simple tech device. While I have no doubt that the brand has enough staying power to hold its revered status among its followers for at least a few more years, the company needs to change and bring back its aggressive focus on true innovation instead of just gimmickry. The industry has never been this competitive before, and for a brand to stay relevant it needs to constantly innovate and keep up the excitement.
Amir Haleem is CEO, Kueball Digital. firstname.lastname@example.org