announced its eagerly-anticipated Galaxy S4 smartphone
to much acclaim at an event in NYC just days ago, Apple
responded--by releasing a web page devoted to convincing users that the iPhone
is better than every other phone.
Taken alone, the “Why iPhone” page on Apple’s site is actually smart and helpful. It clearly and succinctly outlines all the reasons why the iPhone is a great product--which, of course, it is. However, in context, it stinks a bit of desperation.
There was a time when Apple’s iPhone was the
tech object of desire, a golden chalice from which all yearned to sup. It was all the things that BlackBerry wasn’t, and at first even the now-mighty Android
was seen by many as an inferior, also-ran operating system chugging along on middling hardware.
The arrogance emanating from Steve Jobs as he announced beautiful, innovative products like the iPhone was stifling (and indeed turned off many would-be Apple customers), but he was usually right that Apple’s latest was the greatest, and he knew that people therefore couldn’t get their hands on the Next Big Thing fast enough. Indeed, Apple was revolutionizing mobile while also setting the gold standard for design and quality.
Times have changed. Apple’s sheen as a company, and the iPhone’s as a product, has diminished. When was the last time you were legitimately excited about an iPhone event? Not even the rumors about upcoming iPhones are all that interesting anymore. Android is now a fully mature and very powerful operating system (with excellent associated Google services), and it’s present on the majority of mobile devices worldwide; perhaps more importantly, the handsets running Android are increasingly beautiful, feature-rich, and high-performing.
Samsung Galaxy S4
To wit, the Samsung Galaxy S4 announcement. Apple used to see this sort of competition as a challenge to do better, and its resulting products bore out that dedication to superiority; not anymore. This “Why iPhone” page just makes it seem as though people who are excited about the Galaxy S4 and other phones are all just mistaken. It comes off as both insulting and petty.
Worse, Apple keeps hammering on points that most people don’t care that much about. So the Retina display is high-res; hurray. Now how about a screen that’s a more usable size? Apple meticulously designed every nook and cranny of the iPhone to be perfect; that’s great, but everyone has their iPhones wrapped up in thick protective covers to protect the screens anyway, so few people even see those carefully sculpted edges. Siri is interesting, but she’s not much of a deal breaker for most.
When it comes to a blow-by-blow comparison of the iPhone with other high-end handsets and their associated services these days, the iPhone just doesn’t stand out. And the head honchos at Apple know it. “Why iPhone?” is the question that Apple should be asking itself.