Here Comes the Downhill of Mighty Apple
Is it iPhone 6? iPhone 6 Plus? or iNote?Let’s start with the obvious. Apparently nobody got it right because Apple was working on two iPhones simultaneously. Not only bigger, iPhone 6 plus is now competing against Galaxy Note. For dubious reasons, Apple decided to call it “iPhone,” but it’s not a phone and even Sammy knows it. 5.5″ is simply irrational, why 5.5? Apple’s biggest competitor Samsung’s Galaxy S5 has 5.1″ screen and Galaxy Note 4’s 5.7″. Meaning, It’s bigger than conventional phones, but smaller than portable tablets.
If anyone cares to recall Steve Jobs on Keynote for the first iPhone ever, he said, “cause it works with one thumb.” People were complaining about huge 3.5″ display and that was Jobs’ response. That was 2007, 7 years ago. Apple had something to introduce, a new idea and had rational reasons they could offer in keynote. They even had a simple experiment of how a thumb covers the whole screen. Aside from real reasons, such as technical difficulties to produce bigger or smaller iPhone in 2007, it surely convinced hell a lot of people. It was a good start.
Now in 2014, Apple just plainly failed to convince anyone. Tim Cook and his 2nd gen Apple are living off from iOS consumer base that has stopped growing since iPhone 5. Has anyone seen a friend or a neighbor saying “oh I should get a new iPhone cause it has Touch ID?” Absolutely nobody. Not only unconvincing, Touch ID try-outs in Apple Store wasn’t impressive either. It was by far half-baked. All you can do with Touch ID was unlock to your phone. No 3rd party implementation available. They said it would be done with iOS 8, but not iOS 7. That’s just plainly wrong. Where did the whole “smartness” go?
iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are third in line as of Lightning-based smartphone. That means about two things. First, if Apple doesn’t come up with new innovation, soon people will go back to “smartphone+iPod” era. Lightning cable itself is a new ecosystem. There’s no reason to get an iPhone. New bargain deals are always coming up with Android. And most of novelty accessories only work with good-old 30 pin connectors. Second, if Apple won’t make a radical deals with carriers, such as “data only plans for iPhones,” at some point nobody would stay on iPhone.
Here’s an example. In August 2014, well witted Brits in UK took the ice bucket challenge with Galaxy S5 and picked iPhone as next challenger. This half-witted morons, —no offense—came up with a plan to bring Sammy up to the speed with Twitter and Facebook, but apparently failed to bring Android up to the speed with iOS ecosystem. Imagine if they had simply said, “we’ll take your iPhone, and for every app installed on your iPhone you get a dollar discount!” That would be a giant game changer. What I am suggesting is simple: with enough money Sammy isn’t far away from catching up with Apple, if they hadn’t done it already.
So I’m going to ask the same question and wrap it all up. Where’s the new stuff?
Apple Pay, NFC, iOS 8 and Stuffs in Your Pocket
This is where it gets even more depressing. Most of the keynote focused on the new features made available thanks to iOS 8, not iPhone. Apple Passbook, which isn’t still popular, is now taking in credit card, but there’s nothing new other than announcing more business partners. Personally I believe Apple is going to the right direction with this Passbook system, less stuffs in your pocket, more features on your phone. Now here is the question then. Why doesn’t iPhone 5, or 4 support them?
Many analysts, Android and Apple fanboys often get this wrong. It is no coincidence phone became the first “smart device.” First, it was probably the largest potable device that fits in to the pocket. Second, it already had some keyboards (usually just numpads), so no need to think about inputs. Third, it had displays, speakers, and microphone, that makes an excellent low-end computer. Fourth, we all carry it. The result is simple. If we are going to put more features in one thing in a pocket, it had to be a phone.
Cook did emphasize how Apple Pay will be radically different from conventional “e-wallet” system. Frankly, I don’t care. Unless Credit Card companies suddenly feel like giving up all of their plastic card and move on e-wallet with some discounts on consumers’ side, it wouldn’t make such of difference except looking like a nerd. NFC, in that sense, is useless. I haven’t seen that many people using NFC on credit card instead of swiping. Not that many places have NFC on their machine either. Apple is killing credit card with NFC? I doubt it.
From more practical perspective, good-old Passbook has better chance in taking over your wallet. Almost every shops have a scanner, and it works perfectly fine with a LCD display. —or so I was told— That means, if Credit Card company is willing to fold their plastic-manufacturing business, they can do so by simply sending an email with a QR code that works as a payment. Adding NFC to iPhone and getting bunch of partners may pressure small businesses to get a new scanner, but the whole plan also has some serious possibility of backfiring. It’s a plan based on consumer base of iPhones, of iTunes and iPods. Wait, let me correct myself here. It’s only based on iPhone 6, not related to iTunes at all.
New features of iOS 8 shouldn’t be limited to new iPhone lines, because Apple is sucking at everything else and sucking up from consumer base to continue. Easiest way to support and keep consumer base is to keep supporting old phones, and for whatever reason, they decided only the new phones should have it. Thanks to this policy, changes would have be more gentle for small businesses to adapt to, but it will lack an impact on the market it needs. Go back to the Passbook again. How many airlines adopted Passbooks? Can you even start to imagine how much they are wasting to print boarding pass? Yet only few airlines actually adopted the system, and I doubt it has anything to do with TSA this time.
More importantly, what do they expect Google to do about this? Ironic it may sound, Apple can’t handle everything on their own. They need competitors, just like they had RIM back in the days, and now Google. Will Google be able to catch up? Better yet, will credit card companies ever allow Androids to have access to their system? Only about 15% of smartphone users are on iOS, meaning majority of the users will still be using plastic cards. In Cook’s defense, it appears Apple took the right position between the credit card company and the consumers, hence more packed device, more likely to regain some popularity. But it is also likely that this whole plan might not work at all and die out on its own like Newton Message Pad.
One More Thing, Apple Watch
I have 3 Galaxy Notes, 2 Galaxy phones, and a Galaxy gear. Aside from usual Galaxy lines, Galaxy gear was simply horrible. I needed to carry a case for a wrist watch that works as a charger, and a watch was huge and almost anti-fashion. Seriously, it didn’t suit in with any clothing. The only fashion advice on Gear I could find was CEO Shin wearing Galaxy gear on his presentation, which actually made him look like Wonder Woman. Today’s feature of wrist watch is more focused on the fashion, not looking at time, and Sammy got that horribly wrong.
Awkward dependency of the watch is also questionable. It’s actually very hard to tell. On average consumer level, unless someone actually tells you this watch only works with your phone nearby, they make it sound as if this watch can handle everything on its own. All it really does is being a remote your wireless phone. It purely makes no sense. Why would I want to talk to someone by my wrist? And the touch screen and button, hardly pressable, made it inept for daily usage.
I had hoped Apple would never go into this wearable tech industry. People stopped wearing watch long time ago. We are no longer facing Great War enemy line. All it really does is being a fashion item, thing that tells you who you are. If anything, it should be the job of Switzerland watch industry to kick-in. I will admit, Apple Watch does look like a watch this time, compared to the Gear. But the overall design is more or less 80s square box watch. It comes in bunch of options available, but that’s all. Would you want to wear a watch like that? I don’t know, it only makes me wonder why I don’t see any pictures of a fashion model wearing that watch.
What I am actually impressed of are a wheel (called crown) and a charger. This charger idea seems very similar to the one that is already available with Mac, a magnetic charger. And most of old-fashioned watch comes with a properly working crown, hence it is no surprising Apple wants to take it and use it as a physical input. Granted, it was foolish of Sammy not to rip it off from real watch. But it still makes no difference as to what is the primary purpose of this watch can be. At least Apple decided to add NFC to it. So are we looking at emptying the wallet and wear a watch instead? No. Now this is even more bizarre then ever.
In conclusion, What is Apple’s new direction? Do they even care to have one? Or are they slowly dying?