Do not be misled. Microsoft purchasing (the best of) Nokia — at firesale prices — is a brilliant move. Nokia + Skype + Bing + Office + Outlook + Nokia Maps + Nokia imaging. That is a very powerful proposition.
Apple, however, remains at least one step ahead, and iPhone continues destroying and disrupting all in its path. The mostly wise and semi-literal sacking of Steve Ballmer is but the latest casualty of the iPhone. There will be more.
In less than a decade, Apple’s iPhone has fundamentally altered computing, connectivity, work, play — and industry after industry. Its impact simply cannot be overstated.
Bet you didn’t see that coming.
Ballmer was absolutely not alone, of course, in failing to realize early on that iPhone was the personal computing equivalent of gun powder. Fact is, excepting Steve Jobs and Larry Page, nearly all in the computing industry whiffed on the iPhone’s game-changing potential — until it was much too late. Even the beleaguered Apple faithful, whom cheered when the iPhone was first launched, and aggressively downplayed the device’s initial glaring shortcomings, perceived it as little more than a touchscreen iPod with calling capabilities. They, like the CEOs of tech’s biggest, baddest companies, simply could not fathom how this little device with nearly no buttons, no software and no keyboard would soon re-construct our future, re-make Silicon Valley and devour content like some technological black hole, everything collapsing inside its glowing screen.
Now, we know better. Well, most of us. Far too many remain stubbornly clueless. Despite controlling the most used, most engaging mobile platform on the planet, despite the ongoing turmoil inside the Android camp — and, frankly, I still question Google’s long-term commitment to Android — we are treated to such nonsense as Fred Wilson’s “fear” that Android will obliterate iPhone and iOS.
Hard to take such unthinking proclamations serious. The iPhone is just getting started.
The iPhone Second Wave
Apple has an astounding 600 million users on the same version of the same operating system. This is more than anyone else. Given the global thirst for smartphones, it’s hard not to see this number reaching at least 1 billion in under two years. That ensures at least a decade of self-sustainability. There is more to come, however, much more. I believe the value of each individual iPhone, old and new, is on the cusp of a sizable increase in value and utility.
This is the most under-reported story about the iPhone
iPhones connect us to apps, to the cloud, to the web, to our content. The unstated genius of the iOS 7 operating system, however, is that our iPhones will increasingly connect to each other. This represents yet another fundamental computing shift.
iPhone to web (or cloud) was merely the first implementation of iPhone. Soon, it will be iPhone-to-iPhone-to-iPhone.
With iOS 7, Apple is rolling out AirDrop, which supports proximal one-to-one and one-to-many sharing of apps, web content, photos and other services. The new iOS will also leverage iBeacons, allowing us to connect our iPhone with (Apple-approved) wearables and intelligent accessories.
The value of these interactions is not derived from the web, but device to device, location to person.
In other words, Apple is on the cusp of having a billion users on the same platform, their computers always in hand, everywhere they go, connected to each other in physical proximity, not via the web, not via the public switched network, but iPhone to iPhone. I can only begin to fathom the unprecedented innovations we will quickly witness in location-based social sharing, gaming, and commerce.
Only Apple Can Do This
No one else has this. No one has ever even had this potential.
Yes, Android phones are far more prevalent. Yes, Google does a far better job of connecting us to all that the world wide web offers. But, only Apple will be able to connect us en masse to one another, device to device.
Think of three modes of connectivity. All are vital, all are valuable.
- Apple does the very best job of connecting user with device — via the most intuitive operating system and a richer, simpler ecosystem.
- Android does a better job of connecting users (and their devices) to the real-time and increasingly personalized richness of the world wide web.
- The third path is entirely new: connecting device to device for all manner of sharing of content, data, money, photos and whatever else clever app developers invent.
Again, this is something only Apple can deliver. Hundreds of millions of devices, nearly all on the same version of the same OS, similar hardware, same modes of connectivity, same (Apple-based) standards, same simple method of sharing, same payments and distribution platform.
It will take years for Microsoft-Nokia, or Samsung or even Google-Motorola to catch up with, if they ever can.
My advice: Do not once again underestimate iPhone’s impact. It’s just getting started.