On Thursday, the world learned of the passing of Steve Jobs. Jobs will be remembered as “among the greatest of American innovators” stated President Obama Thursday. “The Edison” of our modern age, a man who pushed the envelope on the very means which we communicate and consume information, he will be remembered as a rebel and an entrepreneur who never settled for “OK” always pushing for perfection. “Here’s to the Crazy Ones” commercial from 1997 narrated by Steve Jobs speaks to the impact of his career and insight into our technological future.
Apple just introduced the iPhone 4S, not the 5 or 4GS as speculated. Packed in an iPhone body but with some adjustments, the new device was so underwhelming that it temporarily brought down the value of Apple’s stock. It packs a faster A5 processor (same as the iPad2), an 8-megapixel camera with HDR support and full 1080p HD video capture. The device will be a world phone, supporting CDMA and GSM protocols with two radios, which Apple claims will increase download speeds to 14.4 megabytes per second via HSPA+. The 4S will launch iOS 5 with such golden nuggets as Siri, Apple’s much-coveted voice-recognition software (and DARPA military veteran), which will power what appear to be many of the features of the OS. The other software change comes in the form of notifications matching what has been present on Android for some time now. For more coverage of iOS features, check out our coverage of the Apple WWDC Recap. But if you didn’t believe us before, Twitter is now fully backed into the iOS goodness and will let the Apple biters out there share content via Twitter with even less effort.
As the New York Times’s Bits blog points out, Apple has to compete with Google and its wide array of phone offerings, ranging from free to $400. The question must be asked, though: Which came first, the strategy or the surplus? Verizon didn’t move as many of the iPhone 4 as expected, and neither did AT&T when it came to moving the 3GS (as judged by the $0 cost for the 3GS with a new contract). All three big boys are in the game now. AT&T started strong but lost its edge after partying too hard with its stockpiles of Jacksons, Grants, and Franklins. Verizon came as the second string to push the opposition to the boards and burn down more of the clock, but––wait––third-string Sprint rushed the floor? Coach Apple, what is going on? Sprint is hedging an awful lot on its moving 30 million handsets.
We learned from the laptop and desktop PC model wars that speed is not everything. Users want function and compare relatively similar devices by what bells and whistles they offer. Analysts have slammed Apple for not releasing a device that can compete with Samsung and HTC models, but why would Apple want to compete spec for spec with those devices? The reality is that the pipes can’t support “4G” speeds (whatever the actual speeds may be). Instead Apple has released a phone that competes in some areas, like camera and video capture, and excels in others, like the software with Siri and the 500,000 apps for iOS devices. Let’s remember that voice recognition hasn’t been easy or successful in the history of computing, but as ThisIsMyNext points out, Apple and Siri have a few things going for them, including context, logic, and clarification.
The future will include mobile technology, mobile technology that will be smart and help us accomplish daily tasks. The technology that will succeed will be designed first and foremost with user experience as the main objective. Apple’s success in the marketplace cannot be overlooked, as it consistently introduces devices with design first. It just so happens that its designs are bigger than the boxes that house the devices, and the company sometimes has to wait for the world to catch up to its concepts.
Last thought: Early fans of Apple may remember back to 1987 (others may still have been teething) and the Knowledge Navigator. Check out the video below to see how it stacks up––pretty cool all these years later.
Author: John Carew