It's difficult to look just at the proposed features of a new smartphone like Apple's iPhone 5s, announced on September 10, and make an accurate assessment of its prospects in the marketplace. Instead of analyzing features, we should look at technical currents.
Like the flow of a river, technical currents flow in the world of high technology. One can stand back and try to analyze the current from the shore. All one gets is shimmering reflections and perhaps a rough measure of the speed of the current.
However, to really understand what drives that current, one has to become immersed in it. Once in, you can look around, watch the schools of fish, observe their needs, inspect eddies of silt and vegetation and see how things interact.
Ever since Apple announced the iPhone 5s, we've seen those eddies and currents form. Whether we like it or not, they form and then drive the flow of public interest in a new iPhone.
Immersed in this flow is Apple. Apple engineers know from feedback from our devices just how we use our phone. They know what features we exploit and what leaves us cold. They also have a great notion of how often we upgrade our iPhones and what the profile of iPhone hardware is in the current customer base. Overall demand can be mathematically forecast.
As a result, Apple is able to drive and nurse the flow, build a dam here and there, and then tailor their next generation iPhone to the common technical currents. The result is typically a runaway hit, and the precursor this time is the long lines and model sellouts that we're seeing. (The gold model sold out online in 30 min. Lines have been massive.)
We shouldn't be surprised.
The idea of assessing whether a new iPhone is innovative or will appeal to customers, from the shoreline, with a grudge, is like pissing into the wind. At least, Samsung has dipped a toe into the water and is trying to analyze the technical current.
We all need to get better at doing that.
Tech News Debris For the Week of September 16
Have you ever wondered why one of your favorite banks or other organization limits your password to 8 or 12 characters? You may have thought it was stupid and limited your ability to create a long, secure password with, say, 1Password. It turns out that the IT people may have known exactly what they were doing. "Long passwords are good, but too much length can be a DoS hazard."
There may be good reasons for Samsung to pile on the technology in its mobile devices. One may be that the culture of the region has always appreciated complex gadgets. Just look at the manuals of those awful, complex, tiny button point-and-shoot cameras. Another reason may be to hedge its bets in a competitive environment. There are other reasons explored in "Switched On: For Samsung, more is more."
Intel's anthropologist Genevieve Bell (Intel has an anthropologist?) has some doubts about wearable computing devices, or at lesast the current concepts, and thinks that companies "haven’t figured out why people might want them." In addition, we probably haven't really figured out how to make the transition: that is, if I might interpret, how human needs are augmented by wearable devices as opposed to a scattergun approach to adding features to a smart watch. Maybe Apple will be the first to figure that out. In the meantime, "Intel’s Anthropologist Genevieve Bell Questions the Smart Watch."
As usual, the very best technical review of the iPhone 5s comes from Anand Lal Shimpi. Curl up with your iPad on this one.
iPhone 5s (Image credit: Apple)
People who don't want Apple to succeed claim, persistently, that Apple is failing. Or else, they try to bully Apple with their own agenda. The fact is, Apple is thriving, and there are reasons for it. As usual, Jean-Louis Gassée has the concrete analysis. "Apple Market Share: Facts and Psychology."
What's the most reliable PC on which to run Windows? A Mac, according to the analysis of 37,000 PCs. "The most reliable Windows PC is a Mac."
When I first wrote my article on my impressions of iOS7, I concluded that because iOS 7 has some rather sophisticated design principles behind it, it will take some time for them to seep in to our brains and overcome our initial reaction to the color scheme. Result: give it some time. Zach Epstein agrees. Maybe he read my article.
Finally, there are two aspects to the iPhone 5s to note. First, there's the innovation and the technical advancement. Anandtech covered all that in the link above. But from a wholistic perspective, it's also good to bathe one's brain in the experience of using iOS 7. You can do that with Christina Warren's "iOS 7 Makes the iPhone Feel Reborn."
Reborn as in enveloped in the flow of Apple's technical current.
Flowing water via Shutterstock.