This just in – Apple are set to release an even thinner iPhone display. Stop the press, I hear you cry. We must debate this endlessly in online forums. The new screens will be thinner because they integrate the touch circuitry into the screen itself, eliminating an extra layer. This so-called improvement effectively puts Apple on par with Samsung, making this development less of a product revamp, and more of a forced change in order to retain their ability to compete within the market. But woe and betide anyone who claims that this thinner display is not a vast improvement. You’d think that some of the shine and polish would have worn off by now, but for years, Apple has enjoyed media hype unparalleled by other companies in the same industry.
Even failures have been deftly transformed into positive outcomes by the smartphone moguls. What, no iPhone 5? That’s right, folks; you get a completely different letter instead. Embarrassing antenna problems? An exercise in how to handle bad PR with aplomb. Whatever the news, the rumours, the whispered promises on the wind, Apple gets good press. But with such hype, such respect, and so many home-runs, what can they really do to improve the iPhone?
We’ve already heard about the thinner display. Fine, dandy. But the phone is pretty much at its optimal size. The app configuration that the iPhone is famous for is pretty close to being perfect, even when held up to Goldilocks’ standards, and an increase or decrease in size would worsen that. We like our screen size the way it is, thanks.
Other rumoured changes will similarly not be received with much enthusiasm. Recent stories abound that Apple is thinking of updating the iPhone’s accessories. A patent has been sanctioned that would allow for ‘updates’ (read: changes) to be effected in some of their gadgets and gizmos. The charger dock, for example, is rumoured to be changing from a 30-pin to a 19-pin. This has triggered alarm among many of the company’s avid followers who fear they will have to buy new equipment to work with the phone, as the modified design will require users to change all peripherals such as speaker docks or purchase adapters, assuming they are made available.
Even if none of these rumours turn into hard facts, it is likely that the iPhone 5 will delight devout Apple fans, just as its predecessors have before it. It is worth noting, however, that not all iPhone fanatics are seeking dramatic improvements in the iPhone 5. Some quite like the iPhone the way it is, give or take a few modifications.
Why drastically change something that works consistently? Something satisfyingly slick? Something with which consumers are both familiar and happy? If you create a product that satisfies your target market, one that inspires lyrical sonnets and 140-character outpourings of deification in your honour, how can you possibly improve on that in a revolutionary fashion, i.e. in a way that will matter to everyday smartphone users, and not just to gamers or workstation users? Battery boosters, a lighter handset, a thinner display, a new range of colours, a change of name – none of the above inspire a sense of wonderment. I’m really hoping Apple’s newest ‘next big thing’ will have a bit of ooompf, worthy of the word count it’s receiving at the minute. What can Apple pull out of the bag? What can they produce as the USP that will launch the iPhone 5 into a million new homes? As always, with Apple, we’ll just have to wait and see.