In the first quarter of 2013 NZ consumers can be assured of three things. Milk isn’t going to get any cheaper, power prices will probably rise and Apple is wobbling.
The tech giant has had an amazing run over the last decade. Apple experienced a level of success that was the antithesis of it’s surrounding economic environment. The world wondered whilst Apple rose, and my goodness that rise seemed like a long time. Success is even sweeter when everyone else is in the pit, and Apple had found a nice ledge 1000 feet above the rotting global economy. As long as Jobs was at the helm, Apple looked like a sure thing. The last 18 months have proven that all good things must, and will, come to an end.
Samsung have recently launched the Galaxy S4. The S4 has a larger screen, faster processor, and a staggering 5 megapixels over the Iphone 5. Apple fans of the world will say “Of cause it’s better, it’s a new release!”. The sad truth for Apple pundits is that the Iphone is becoming less unique, less fashionable, and to put it bluntly, awfully boring.
I remember when I first purchased an Iphone. It was 2008 I was in Tokyo and the world was yet to realize what can now be argued as one of the greatest leaps in consumer technology. My American flatmate repeatedly proclaimed “Bro I want the Iphone, have you seen that thing? Its sick!”. I looked at it through the glass display at Softbank Harajuku and decided to take a punt.
The craziest thing about having an Iphone in early 2008 was the feeling that it was almost a niche item. Every time I pulled it out of my pocket on the train I felt a little ashamed. Other passengers would sneak a peak at the strange device with the large screen. Nobody else seemed to have one. As I started to familiarize with the device I realised it’s significance. Google maps, youtube, mp3′s and a fully functional online experience were now continually within reach. It even made phone calls. It was smooth, spookily intuitive and had amazing sound quality, something which is still brushed over to this day. How the hell did Apple pull this off?
On my return to New Zealand I ditched it. It was sayonara to the super-device. “Good bye Iphone, it was fun but you had one crucial floor”. Apple went on to correct the “battery issue” in later models but for me it was a relationship killer. This fact, backed up by the $1000.00 price tag made me disregard the Iphone as a viable option for future purchases. It was just too much for a phone. Rich or poor, to me the price tag seemed offensive.
There’s one other key word I should mention for the Iphone: “Snobbery”. Upon returning from Japan I realised that the Iphone was exceedingly popular in the west. It’s popularity was almost scary. I realised that half of the people using them didn’t want the device for its practical implementation. Many people just wanted to fit in. Others wanted status. There was even a few who thought that the Iphone could make them smarter. It was “fashiontech” in it’s truest sense. Soon every career orientated professional who lacked confidence decided that the Iphone would be the ideal placebo.
Fast forward to 2013 and the Iphone is now battling for supremacy. Even die hard Iphone users will be sneaking a peak at their colleagues new S4. Apple is at the cross roads. Will the Iphone star gracefully become a cash cow, plummet to the kennels or will it rise again?
This leads me to the unenviable trait of arrogance. Do all successful people become arrogant? Do all successful companies become arrogant? Apple’s success in my opinion has undoubtedly developed a level or organisational arrogance. This is certainly reflected in their products. I cringe at the fact that you can buy an Apple device and be denied access to it until you plug it in. Oh, but it gets worse. Not only must it be plugged in, but you must also use the ever user friendly Itunes to get your $1000.00 masterpiece to work. No Itunes on your computer? Download it. No Internet? Hahaha, shame on you. Only an arrogant company could expect consumers to “work” for device activation. Apple isn’t alone in this type of consumer bullying. Microsoft and the IE saga was of a similar ilk.
For me a new device isn’t defined by its numbered index. Until the S4 was released this week I was unaware that the Iphone 5 even existed. A new device should bring something new to the table. Some may say that every Iphone gets a little better. I say better isn’t good enough anymore. The first Iphone was better than better. It was groundbreaking, head turning and inspiring. Apple needs another game changer.
Life is definitely harder without Steve. Maybe the next tech guru will be a Korean. I know one who definitely has the ability to bend fortune to his favor.