Can Apple Keep its Cool?
If you're reading this article on the go, pause for just a second and take a look around. What phones do you see people using? The iPhone? An array of Android devices? The business man's Blackberry? Chances are you're seeing quite a mix of all three and them some (and let's not forget the poor little Windows Phone). But what's shocking to me is that more and more, the iPhone isn't popping out of people's pockets. Rather, Samsung and HTC phones are breaking free of the fruit's chains and storming ahead. Why? Some say competition, others will tell you that Android is just plain better than the iDevice. But the real reason: the iPhone just isn't the coolest kid on the block anymore and Apple needs to fix that – and fast.
I slip out my iPhone, check Twitter, and then shoot off a few emails. Hearing the faint whoosh of the Mail app verifying my sent mail, I slip it back into my back pocket and carry on with my day. This seems to be the habit I have with my phone, one that I'm proud to say is quasi-productive while at the same time, semi-amusing. But while meandering the halls, I'm taken aback at the rapid revision of what phones friends and strangers alike are typing away with… not iPhones.
Apple knows how to play the game – and it plays it very well. From commercials to keynotes, stores to employees, the company breaks its back to make sure the consumer feels free within its walled garden. With a relaxed atmosphere and staff, Apple draws in the teens, the adults (and apparently all of those who aspire to be hipsters), and their devices feed that feeling. But it seems like those times are drawing to an end, with Samsung's latest and greatest commercials bashing the sort of cult-like following Apple has had and showing its own phones to be… well, superior.
I'd say the first mistake Apple made was to limit their phone to one carrier (in the red, white and blue) for the longest of time. Do you remember the original Droid launch commercials by Verizon? It was the Anti-iPhone. And it did spectacularly well.
The next mistake was not mixing the operating system up a bit. I know, I know: if it ain't broke, don't fix it, but people get bored of the same tiny squares on a screen after three years and Android offers full customizability.
And the last fall out would be not unveiling any game-changing software or hardware for the iPhone 4s.
Many pundits are saying the iPhone 5 will be groundbreaking, and that's going to give Apple a much needed bump up, but when it really comes down to it, if you want to stay on the top with trends, you need to break the ground each and every year, and then some.
So will Apple stay cool in the long run? Maybe, maybe not. But let's not forget that Blackberry ruled the air for quite some time, and now look at 'em. It's a tough business, keeping cool, one that requires more than just a fancy phone or custom operating system. And don't look now… but I think I see Windows Phone pulling up pretty fast.
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About the author
Guest contributor Alexander Burger is a tech writer who blogs at Phone-Fritz.com.