While Apple may have practically reinvented what a smartphone could be in 2007, they are not looking as majestic as they once did. The company that wrote the blueprint on how to make the unveiling of a product look like an event, the unveiling of the iPhone 5S Tuesday was anything but amazing. Sure, the iPhone 5S is sleek, easy to navigate, simple to use, and certainly faster than its predecessors, but the problem with the iPhone 5S isn’t in the device itself. Instead, the problem lies in Apple’s mindset.
With the unveiling of the iPhone 5S, Apple is still approaching iPhone launches as if it is still the only logical option when it comes to the smartphone market. Of course, this isn’t the case at all, and 2013 alone has proven this. We’ve seen incredible new smartphone devices hit the marketplace this year, such as the successor to 2012’s Samsung Galaxy S3, the Galaxy S4, HTC’s HTC One, Motorola’s Moto X, and that’s just the beginning.
And what do they all have in common? They’re all operating on the Android OS.
These smartphones are bigger, they have bigger and clearer displays, – and some of them can even snap photos underwater! Smartphones operating under the Android OS update apps automatically. Some smartphones, such as the Moto X, can even be controlled with one’s voice alone, resulting in users never having to touch the smartphone to begin with.
In a sense, smartphones that are running the Android operating system are varied: no matter what type of smartphone you need, whether you want a simple iPhone alternative or a heavy-duty powerhouse of a smartphone, to borrow a phrase from Apple, “there is an Android smartphone for you.”
A lot of this is Apples fault: after all, we have come to expect huge leaps forward with each iteration of the iPhone. Yet the iPhone 4S, iPhone 5, and now the iPhone 5S have been small leaps forward – and depending on whom you ask, maybe a leap or two backward. Yet many of the innovations that Apple seems to be missing out on is happening on the Android side of things Full, HD displays encompass many Android devices, the ability to transmit media from smartphone device to displays such as televisions and monitors, and on some smartphones, the ability to make Wi-Fi calls are all stock with many Android smartphones today.
Apple’s iPhone 5S doesn’t feature this type of functionality – in fact (and possibly for the first time ever), the reality is this – Apple is undeniably playing a game of “catch up” with the Android platform.
Need more evidence? Wall Street reacted to the disappointment in the iPhone 5S unveiling Tuesday, as Apple’s shares fell 6% on Wednesday.
“Apple’s stock has never seen this type of sell-off the day after announcing a new iPhone,” said Walt Piecyk of BTIG Research, “but this has more to do with investors’ lack of confidence in Tim Cook’s strategy than the quality of the phones that were announced.”
”The smartphone market is more competitive overall,” says Carolina Milanesi, a consumer-technology researcher with Gartner Research. “Many feel that Apple needs to regain the distance they once had over their competitors.”
The numbers don’t lie either: Android smartphones account for 79% of all smartphones sold, while Apple is down to roughly 14%. It’s as if Apple is choosing not to compete with the other powerhouses in the smartphone sector, and by looking at the numbers above, it’s clear to see what is happening: when consumers want the latest, cutting-edge smartphone, they are now heading to Android smartphones to fill this void.
And those that want cheap, inexpensive smartphones that simply work? They too are purchasing Android smartphones. It bears repeating: no matter what type of smartphone a certain consumer wants, “there’s an Android smartphone for that.”
While the iPhone may have been absolutely revolutionary when it was first introduced and remained amazing for the concurrent iPhone generations that followed, rival products that are now available, “are as close to Apple’s devices as they’ve ever been,” says Scott Kessler, an analyst as S&P Capital IQ. “The question is whether Apple is going to introduce products that are different enough from their competitors.”
All signs point to ‘no.’ With Google’s ‘Google Glass,’ Sony’s ‘SmartWatch,’ and Samsung’s ‘Galaxy Gear’ hitting the marketplace soon, wearable gadgets are appearing to become the next tech frontier to dominate. Sure, Apple’s ‘iWatch’ has been rumored to be in development for some time, yet rumors are circulating that Apple may have shelved it for the time being.
Will the iPhone 5S be a success? Time will tell, yet it likely will not be as revolutionary as past iPhone devices. It should be, and that’s truly a shame, yet it is telling as to what Apple is quickly becoming: just another tech company with nothing special to provide consumers. It’s also becoming an aging tech company, stuck in its ways and unwilling to change.
It’s time to do something drastic and revolutionary once again Apple, or you’re going to be surpassed by other tech companies that are hungry and more than happy to replace you.
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