Apple, We Need a Larger iPhone as I have asked for since 2010
It’s getting to be laughable – the phone choices in the Android camp are literally becoming infinite from Samsung alone – let alone when you throw in Google, HTC and others. Apple popularized the mouse, the GUI, fonts, desktop publishing and so many things yet they eventually got killed in the late eighties and nineties because of the competition and their lack of correct response to it.
In other words the price/performance curve got so out of whack that when PCs became commoditized and Apple lost its software ecosystem advantage, it didn’t make financial sense to buy an Apple product.
In 2010 I predicted this would happen to Apple in the smartphone market when I saw the gloriously huge Motorola Droid X. At the time I said the following (bold added for emphasis):
And this gets us to the headline of this entry... Is Apple repeating its mistake of not licensing its software to a variety of hardware manufacturers? Apple is able to leverage tremendous economies of scale because it owns everything from the microprocessor to the software and this puts it in an enviable position. But when Apple competed with Microsoft Windows in the late eighties and nineties it also had similar advantages. The difference was a slew of hardware companies were able to produce better performing machines because the economy of scale allowed them to do so and they weren't bound to keep prices high like Apple has always done.
As consumers saw they could get more bang for the buck with the PC the Mac lost more and more share. TMC embraced desktop publishing in the mid-late eighties and at the time I was in the MIS department and led the charge to the world of PC-based desktop publishing. In hindsight this was a stupid move because the software on the market at the time was lousy and did not give us the control of programs like PageMaker and Quark Express. We had to use Xerox Ventura Publisher which for my graphic designers was only slightly preferable to waterboarding.
So even though the software was a challenge we saved tens of thousands of dollars by going with the PC. As of today, Apple is hard to beat when it comes to tablets and cell phones but the Android frees manufacturers up from dealing with software as much and can instead focus on making better performing hardware per dollar.
This could mean over time that the Android ecosystem gets to be so big that the economy of scale will lead to a variety of devices which have a plethora of form factors which appeal to a large variety of users. As this happens, it is unclear if customers will stay married to Apple or switch to the ecosystem with the newer and cooler devices which seem to emerge every month or even every few weeks.
This is exactly what is happening now and the Apple board is even said to be speaking up about the lack of visible innovation at the company. There are scores of people begging, dying, waiting for a larger iOS phone – myself included and yet the company through CEO Tim Cook says ridiculous things like:
My view continues to be that iPhone 5 has the absolute best display in the industry. And we always strive to create the very best display for our customers. And some customers value large screen size, others value also other factors such as resolution, color quality, white balance, brightness, reflectivity, screen longevity, power consumption, portability, compatibility with apps and many things.
Our competitors had made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display, we would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist.
In response I posited at the time:
Some of these points actually do make sense and I speculated as such last September but perhaps the most important aspect of a portable device like a smartphone is its battery life and no one gets a whole day of use from an iPhone 5 if they actually use it for much of the day.
In other words, Apple already made a major trade-off sacrificing a full day of battery life to keep the iPhone 5 thin and light.
And every day Apple Store employees get hammered with the question, “When will Apple come out with a larger screen phone.” How do I know? Because I ask them, and this is what they tell me.
Customers aren’t even asking for something innovative – because Steve Jobs has proven we don’t even know what the heck we want till we see it. What we want is something that takes the familiar – the iPhone and makes it as big as the Android devices many are craving.
It really is quite simple. We understand the device will be thicker in order to house a larger battery – we just hope it will last a whole day because we are sick of carrying around chargers and batteries because iPhone designers apparently aren’t able to figure out how to design a phone which goes 12+ hours.
In the meantime, keep working on the “secret” innovations and launch your new TV, iWatch and everything else when they are ready. A larger phone will shut many people up for a good 18 months and boost sales dramatically – not to mention have a seriously detrimental effect on Samsung, LG and a slew of other competitors.