A company that once dominated the smartphone marketplace with breathtaking revolutions in user interface paradigms and industrial design proved Tuesday morning it has now been consigned to 24-month cycle of evolutionary incrementalism.
The launch of Apple’s iPhone 5 had as much splash of events of yore, except for the fact that it was missing one key component — a genuinely awe-inspiring product.
The last time Apple had a major iPhone launch with the iPhone 4 in 2010, Samsung was fumbling in the dark with hardware and Android was a pathetic crash-happy OS. Now in 2012 Android has matured enough to eclipse iOS in many feature sets, and Samsung occasionally outsells Apple quarter-over-quarter.
Case and point: when the iPhone 5 launched today many of its signature features can already be found in Android phones. Android users have been enjoying things like LTE, panorama photo apps, plus 4-inch better than ‘Retina’ colour-rich screens, and an (entry level) DSLR rivaling camera for nearly a year.
On stage at the event, Apple’s marketing boss Phil Schiller — who claimed that the iPhone 5 was the “most beautiful device we’ve ever made” — showed off some of the phone’s new features which include a build that is 20% lighter than the iPhone 4S, a faster A6 processor that looks to take on NVIDIA’s Tegra, a lighter camera that can shoot 1080p in the back with 720p in the front, and an improved version of Siri that understands queries about sports.
Mr. Schiller also pointed to a new feature on the iPhone 5 that will likely be of annoyance to many: a new connectivity standard. Gone is the old connectivity standard that Apple introduced in 2003, and instead a new standard called ‘Lightning’.
As Apple’s old connectivity standard is gone with the iPhone 5, so is Google. Considering how Android is galvanizing Apple’s once dominating market share, iOS 6 — which ships with the iPhone 5 — has been completely divorced of any trace of Google, most notably Google Maps. Instead, Apple is shipping its own mapping and navigation app with the OS. The YouTube app is also apparently no longer preloaded.
Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, how has held the position for just over a year now, said at the launch event, “Only Apple could create such amazing software, hardware, and services and put them together into such a powerful, integrated solution.”
The Samsung Galaxy S3 or HTC One X would argue otherwise.
The iPhone 5 is available for pre-order on Sept 14, shipments start on Sept 21.