Monday, June 7, 2010

iPhone 4, fell far from the tree of inovation!

Well, all I can say about Steve Job's speech at today's 2010 WWDC (World Wide Developer Conference) is, if Al Gore can be awarded an Academy Award for a Power Point speech; which neither addresses or proposes any solutions to the problems he is claiming to spearhead; then why not Steve Jobs.  Never before has Steve Jobs been more guilty of spending more time, delivering less results.

Perhaps that wasn't "all I can say"!  Let's get into it!

Steve said, he was going to present 8 of over 100 new features Apple added to their iPhone Platform.  Let's at least assume these 8 "key features", worthy of CEO introductions, are near the top of this list of significant improvements.  If so, then how can he explain, three out of the eight "features" he chose to feature aren't new features; they are an updated / slimmer body, a new name, and a method of advertising.
Here is the anemic list of 8:
  1. New Design - slimmer and squared off, not really a new feature.
  2. Higher resolution - desperately needed given this hadn't increased in 2 years.
  3. New / Faster Processor - this happens as a matter of natural progression to every new computing device.
  4. Gyroscope - This has become a standard inclusion on all new Smart Phones
  5. Improved Camera - 5MP and 720p are nothing new either, but not having a removable battery or memory is odd for such a device.
  6. A new OS Name - Well this is no feature at all, just a new name...
  7. iBooks - So now there is yet another to choose from, beyond those all ready in the apps store by Amazon and others.
  8. iAdd - A new way of advertising is hardly something for consumers to be thrilled with. (I mention a real revenue improvement developer's would benefit far more from further down in this blog.)
and a bonus announcement
9. Facetime - a WiFi only video chatting application, that introduces yet another video chat API standard.
There was also a mention of finally being able to group or organize all the apps most iPhone users must spread across the iPhones numerous, generic "home screens" 
And there was a mention of some useful improvements to the iPhones e-mail features; unfortunately, for the sake of any claim to innovation or timely introductions, Android phones (and G-mail) has group e-mails into "conversations" since day one.
Perhaps more significant than any of these so called "New Features" were the 3rd party and application announcements shared during the speech, such as Netflix's up-and-coming, playable video upgrade.  (Of course this is already available to those platform that suport Adobe Flash, such as Android 2.2 users,) 

Or even more appealing than most of these 8 key features, was the little $5 app "iMovie for iPhone", which provides some simplified on the fly video editing.  However, where will you store all of these HD 720p editable libraries of content.  Moreover, how will you quickly and easily remove and protect the edited results or your precious memories while on your vacation?  (The phone are not UNLOCKED, so you can't use pre-paid data and GSM cards when traveling to Europe, so don't record anything while over there! Or on vacation in the mountains or on a cruise!)

So let's review in more detail his "wow factor" he depends so confidently on, worked out for him today at the WWDC event he just delivered he key note speech at just hours ago.  BTW, if you want to see a recent key note speech riddled with surprising announcement, great one lines, and jammed packed with innovations, this is not the keynote to spend time watching.  Instead you should head to the keynote given two weeks ago, at the Google Android Developers conference, and watch how things must be done in this new age of cloud computing and mobile device computing.  Steve will instead be demonstrating in his speech, how you attempt to convince consumer to stay loyal to one manufacturer, who is limited to one OS, and who also is hoping to limit their developers to only one SDK, and one Store, and one distributor for all media utilized on their product line, and now depend on this same one source for any of their add revenue.  This is a sinking proposition in a world of endless possibilities and options.)

"All new design".  You made it thinner, and placed glas on the back.  Other than that is is now blockier looking than your old model.  Okay - I guess this is a new feature??  Android has now been adopted as the mobile OS of choice by dozens of manufactures, so several new device designs and capabilities are released every month!

"Retina Display".  What the?  So this is a way of bragging about the fact that such a large device only has a 3.4" screen. The tighter dot pitch was a design feature?  Give me a break!  Give me an AMOLED, capacitive touch, 4", 800x480 screen, any day; on a device taking up no more physical space.  Welcome to last months innovations by HTC for phone like the Droid Incredible.  And I don't even want to venture to guess what manufactures like Samsung and many others will introduce over the coming months.  I promise they won't claim a "Retinal limit", when dedicating a significant portion of both the lower and upper portions of this compact mobile devices screen potential screen real-estate to one button and a tiny mic.  To claim you have meet the "retinal limit", of a devices screen, as you excuse for a phone paltry 3.5" screen (you introduced 2 years ago,) and now rather standard resolution, is a smooth marketing trick...
As Apple admitted, the 960×640 resolution they are finally offering to iPhone users, is 4x times as many pixels as the current iPhone; this represents a part of the problem with Apple's product life cycle and the lack of competition they anticipate dealing with.  They have seemingly, no fear, in expecting users of their media device, (such as iPod touch's and the iPhone's,) to deal with such dated displays for as long as 2 years, before bothering to upgrading it.   But what consumers don't know their missing out on wont hurt them, right?  I guess so... But will this luxuriously & selfishly slow, product development cycle soon become a thing of the past where related to mobile computing platforms of this nature?  In the case of the iPhone, Apple is counting on you being STUCK in a two years contract, so you can't complain about the transitioning and improved technologies, which occur each and every month over a 24 month, high-tech, industry time-frame.

Those contracts and ignorance are definitely a great thing for Apple to be able to lean on, but a horrible thing for a consumer to be strapped too!

"New Processor", Moorse law states that processing power doubles every 24 months in ALL computing devices.  So how impressed are you now?  The latest de-facto standards for modern computing devices have recently been set by Qualcom's "Snap dragon" line of mobile processor, which have been typically clocked at 1 Ghz in the most recent variations of phone to support them.  However, Qualcom announced last week, their entirely new line of processor expected to be released in phones throughout the summer, (are not only dual cored,) but hit speeds closer to 1.5 Ghz and beyond.  Guess how long it will take for Apple to release an improvement after the iPhone 4 hits the shelves a month form now?  APPLES EXCUSES FOR SPEED AND MULTITASKING ARE UNACCEPTABLE, SUCH LIMITS DON'T EXIST ON OTHER BRANDS

"Gyroscope", really? the inclusion of yet another microelectromechanical system is news?  I guess this is a better than the fact the first generation of iPhone didn't even include a compass, (which rendered included application such as Google maps and its deeper function "Street view", much less effective.)  However, to list these MEMS as they are called for short as one of your 8 key feature for your latest cell phone is quite a lame stretch for even Apple's marketing.  Apple after-all has little to nothing to do with such technology.  These MEMS are a culmination of many mechanical devices which are built onto clusters of semiconductor chips, comprising of all sorts of sensors used to determine pressure, temperature, chemical and vibration, light reflectors and reactive switches as well as accelerometers which have become a standard array of inclusion in all cell phone, automobiles and digital cameras.  (And of course their OS's supporting APIs)  
Including their support and availability in a device is no longer news worthy for anything being introduced in 2010.  Not including them would be the real news.

"Improved Camera":  All I have to say about this is - removable / upgradeable battery & removable / upgradeable storage! MISSING!! AGAIN!!! The iPhone 4 has neither!  (how about this device instead! )So if you then chose to take advantage of this lovely, new and improved photography and videography capabilities; and say you are on a trip, or at an important family event such as a wedding or graduation; forget depending on this feature for any longer than your prior phone conversations, book reading, application use, navigation or music playing and storage permits.  During any such special event or daily usage (depending on how inspiring your life is to record,) you would have easily depleted both the remaining battery and the phone's useful storage to an extent that would discourage any real usefulness for this upgraded camer technology.  (Not to mention the iMovie on phone editing, should you choose to drop $5 for that little app.)

What a waste of a good camera, all in an effort for Apple to keep its' loyal consumers, hand-strung to a pricing model which revolves around their products built-in, ONLY, memory capacity.  And it is very odd to then require you loyal customers to purchase expensive or bulky 3rd party "cases" in order to extend battery performance; again, because you refuse to make the device where it can be opened or simply "innovate" a battery with an external snap-off / replaceable capability.  Even an old Swatch watch from the 80's could have it's battery replaced without the watch actually being opened up.  8MP PIXELS HAS BECOME THE STANDARD, AND ADEQUATE CCD / IMAGE SENSORS IS A GIVEN.  Sony is the company whom innovated the backlight sensor technology Apple is finally using.
Apple is not worrying about innovating here at all!
You would think such a device, one so nicely poised with a convergence of Mobile and multimedia technologies; all of which, one should be invited to be used while traveling; or at a minimum when one is away from a charging base or another computer; would include the ability to upgrade or change both it's storage and battery supply.  In other words when a person wants to travel light, or not worry about a dependency on other bulky technologies, they shouldn't have to.  Not very progressive!  

If you're actually going to have the guts to prevent expandable memory in a mobile device, then why don't you at least get more creative and flexible with cloud based storage.  Not taking very good advantage of the cloud or current mobile computing philosophies just doesn't seem prudent; unless you actually believe you can continue to contain and trap and hold your loyal consumers hostage to Apple only solutions in many key areas of their usage and investments.  

I have been shooting 720p Videos for years on my Sanyo Xacti via SD-cards!  Can't imagine trying to do this without ability to use spare battery or additional SD when traveling and/or one gets full!

"New Name": "iPhone OS 4", is now "iOS 4".  Umm, correct me if I'm wrong but - WHO CARES!!!  On top of everything, they had to pay a license fee and get permission to use this rather unoriginal OS name from Cisco.  The same company Apple had a court battle with, and lost 2 years ago because Cisco had previously trademarked the iPhone name.  Copying names (twice from one company,) is real impressive from a consumer electronics firm which basis it's reputation on innovation and creativity.  Hmm...  - THIS IS NOT SOMETHING ANY OTHER COMPANY WOULD BRAG ABOUT.

"iBooks": Well just as there are 250,000 apps to choose from already, Apple has now added to the choice of eBook readers.  I'm not sure why one should be impressed?  At least they now followed suit with other eBook application developers, and have made it possible to download a new book without the use of your personal computer to make the purchase and then sync the file.  However, why have they not also corrected this oversight for all other media on the device?  Such as music and movies.  THIS IS NOT A LIMITATION WITH OTHER MODERN WIFI CAPABLE MP3 PLAYERS AND MAJOR PHONE MEDIA STORES.

"iAds": As I said, a new way for advertisers to place adds is hardly something for consumers to be thrilled with.  Perhaps it would be even more appealing for developers, if Apple didn't take 33% of all money they earned through their app sales.  Google's app store only keep 10% and they give all of that to the carrier the phone downloaded the app from.  APPLE IS NOT A COMPANY I THINK MOST OF US WOULD LIKE TO DEPEND ON TO MANAGE AND ATTRACT ADD SPACE

"FACETIME":  Let's not forget the bonus, ninth feature, announcement Steve made.  A simple app that can use the front facing camera.  However an application that is restricted to only be used when one is near a WiFi network.  Assuming the phone has permission to use the network.  So no mobile based video chats.  And they really topped off the annoyance of this application by basing it on an totally new standard of video chatting rather than any one of the many open and existing standards.  However, they did brag about the fact that they were "opening" up this FACETIME's API, so other could attempt to make use of it.  Undoubtedly any such use will also be restricted to WiFi only.

An embarrassing fact for Apple is, products possessing all of today's "Key features" are all already available and in stores, and that is not a position which Apple is use to so blatantly needing to fend off on a launch (well, announcement) day when they are claiming once again to have such a bleeding edge advantage over their competitors.  
The on-slot of now viable, smart phone competition; and the countless manufactures and cell phone carriers this competition is stemming from; pits Apple as a veritable underdog, (despite their current market cap,) rather than an innovator.  A scenario Steve Job's has proven time and time again, he can't effectively defend against if it is a status that last very long; and his current method of doing business is unfortunately heading down his typical, destructive, limited market share, method of thinking.

Apples method of abusing their fan-base , the development community and being happy with a limited market share where related to their product lines and resulting overall ecosystem has been profitable in the short term of this revolution in mobile computing platforms; however, I don't feel it will be a sustainable method of doing business.  You can only fool the consumer market for so long, before they become wise and fickle, and move on to the company offering them a better more flexible product at a better value.

So how much is all this "innovation" going to cost you? 
  • With a 2 year contract - with AT&T
    • $199 for the 16GB model and 
    • $299 for the 32GB model. 
  • AT&T will let you upgrade to an iPhone 4-6 months earlier than usual if you re-up for another 2 years. 
OR, YOU COULD JUST WALK IN TO, a T-mobile, Verizon & Sprint store TODAY and pick up the Android Slide, a Droid Incredible by HTC, or an Android EVO-4G also by HTC to see these features already available and in stores today!  However, it are the Android platform slated for release throughout the remainder of 2010 that are worth really getting excited about.
  • Preorders start June 15th, with the phone in stores on June 24th. 18 more countries in July, 24 more in August, and 40 more in September (total of 88 countries).

The primary advantage in avoiding spending any more money on this franchise / platform: You are not further strapped to Apple's very slow to change product life cycle, and HIGHLY closed philosophies, in what has become the most exciting area of computing in decades!  Mobile computing devices and the amazing power of the Internet and cloud based computing to back it up.   Consider the advantages of the Android platform over these announcements made by Apple today.

Stay away from any company with an agenda to simply dazzle you with marketing or have you believe you are receiving "state-of-the-art" software and hardware, when they are actually holding you back and latching you to long term contracts and soon to be dated technology.


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