Thoughts On iPhone Inc

on July 28, 2014
Reading Time: 4 minutes

The iPhone is bigger than McDonald’s. That seems a useful demarcation for how we should view the iPhone in particular and Apple in general.

The iPhone is that once-in-a-generation product that alters daily reality for at least a century. The Model T production line, overnight shipping, indoor plumbing and the credit card are other such examples. I fully expect the iPhone will enable Apple to become the world’s first trillion dollar company.

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There is a cost however, at least for we users. Almost certainly, iPhone will diminish Apple’s ability to create new game changing products.

Why? Because being irrational is hard, really hard. It’s rational to do everything in your power to maximize a product that has the legitimate potential to help you become a trillion dollar company. To do anything — anything at all — that might alter that path is irrational. Steve Jobs could be irrational at times. Tim Cook cannot. At least, I have witnessed no evidence of this. Apple is now iPhone. iPhone is now Apple. Just like Windows is Microsoft.

The Long March

No one ever got fired for buying Apple computers from IBM.

An iOS-based, touchscreen-enabled laptop, priced around $799, and sold by IBM to the enterprise seems an obvious product Apple should offer. It also seems like the kind of product that could destroy numerous existing giants.

For too long, iPhone users have not had their much desired iPhone “phablet.” A reason for this is because an iPhone phablet would gut iPad sales. Considering the iPad sales numbers for the past year, this is a fear Apple no longer possesses.

You will not give up your iPhone. You will not give up your Mac. You may give up your iPad. At this juncture, iPads are simply not must-have devices for nearly anyone. That’s the primary reason for the diminishing sales gains.

Easy prediction: We will almost certainly get an iPhone phablet this year and, likely by next year, a larger iPad.

I am regularly surprised at how bad Apple is at app discovery. That Facebook app ads are my current best source for app recommendations is a clear market failure. I hope the purchase of Beats, Swell and BookLamp signal that Apple is finally willing to get serious about content curation and recommendation.

I have no idea if Swift is a superior language. I am not a developer. I do know however, Apple is big enough to demand its use.

Despite the iPhone’s incredible array of features and functions, we mere mortals no doubt spend far too much time obsessing over which apps belong on the home screen.

Bugs And Features

The smartphone is the computer. Your app is your business model. Every business is impacted by iPhone. Know this or perish.

That Touch ID can’t read my thumbprint if there’s just a tiny bit of water on it seems more bug than feature.

It’s 2014, fourteen years since Y2K. Still, iPhone users can’t have their preferred calendar app list the date on the app icon. This is the equivalent of how the DOOR CLOSE button on any elevator never seems to work.

Samsung ads mocking iPhone users have been brutal and highly effective. Yes, I have had Android users (justly) mock me for having to scour an airport in search of an available outlet. The iPhone battery deserves its poor reputation. However, Samsung’s latest ad where they mock Apple users for not yet having a large display iPhone strikes me as desperation. Almost certainly, there will be a large display iPhone. What then, Samsung?

Amazing iPhone games are available for $5.99 yet millions refuse to pay such ‘outrageously high’ prices. There is much to celebrate and decry with this.

Using the same OS for the iPhone as for the iPad has some obvious limitations. On the small smartphone screen, getting into an app, grabbing the data, then exiting, a singular app occupying the entire screen makes obvious sense. Not so with the iPad. I want at least two windows open on my iPad almost always. Kindle and Twitter are the most common examples. Email and web browser are another. Even while gaming, I prefer two windows open. I can’t imagine buying an iPad until Apple offers this feature.

The Sincerest Forms Of Flattery

The almost laughable copying by Xiaomi of the iPhone and iOS 7 is all the evidence you need as to why Tim Cook must expend significant resources on building the luxury appeal and premium status of the iPhone; all those hard-to-define elements beyond actual quality, reliability and usability.

There are few people better at this, if any, than Angela Ahrendts.

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Confession: it’s hard for me to watch the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory movie and not think of Steve Jobs and Apple.

Rumors Jony Ive was in a Flock of Seagulls cover band are completely unfounded.

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Input method is now a more important consideration than processor, OS and software. No one seems to understand this more than Apple.

More Is Less

Lost in the bubbly talk of an Apple iWatch is the fact everything about it seems wrong. We do not need yet another thing. I want my iPhone — or any smartphone — to serve as my ID, car keys, credit cards, TV remote, glucose reader, everything. Apple should focus its genius on making the iPhone devour more of those things, not create new ones.

The newest version of PayPal appears to equal, possibly usurp, Apple’s Passbook vision: Payments, money transfers, loyalty cards, information on nearby shops, it’s all there. Apple certainly wants the iPhone to be used for payments, though maybe they have finally decided enabling payments and not powering them is the way forward. This may also explain the company’s recent decision to once again allow Bitcoin apps in the App Store.

I actually read app update notes. This recent update from Yelp made me laugh.

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Jan Dawson made a strong case for why Apple should stagger launches of its major products. Commenters offered additional insights as to why Apple does not (or should not) heed his advice. Not stated, however, but which I think is at least worth considering, are the possible impacts of corruption. Nearly all assembly of nearly all Apple products takes place in China, where there is a less-than-transparent relationship between the government and business. It seems the implications of this should at least be examined.

I am surprised by how few iPhone users seem to ever use AirDrop to transfer files or data to one another. Perhaps personal iPhone-to-Mac AirDrop sharing is the superior use case.

I am unaware of the age, gender, race or LGBQT numbers at Apple Inc., Apple in Cupertino, or of those who work solely on the iPhone. But together, these people have created something positively impacting lives. And they keep making it better. I tip my hat to them all and hope in some way, my words can ever do the same.