iPhone5 – Not Rocket Science

A week on from the launch of the iPhone 5 – Apple’s most eagerly anticipated launch since… well, the iPhone 4 – and what have we learned?

Since the rumour mill began to grind in the spring, there has been an increasing sense of anticipation. The phone’s actual announcement was greeted initially with derision, due to the perceived lack of headline improvements. But the usual raft of ‘leaked’ photos and memos added grist and the reviews have been largely enthusiastic – ‘the best iPhone ever’ no less, is the consensus.

In the event, a bigger screen, panoramic camera, turn-by-turn navigation and some new maps have proved enough to shift five million units in the first weekend. Here in the UK, it was reported that 1200 people queued for almost a week to make sure they would be first (or at least, not twelve hundred and first) to get their hands on one.

So, how are these legions of early adopters feeling now they’ve spent some time with their shiny new phones? Are millions of lives being radically transformed by a revolutionary piece of technology? Perhaps owners are wondering how they’ve survived without a panoramic camera and a sixth row of apps (they can never go back to five). Maybe they are still excited at the contribution these unparalleled benefits could make towards a brighter future.

Or are lives pretty much unchanged; albeit with a slightly better phone than the one they had a few days ago and 500 quid lighter for the experience?

At the very least, those with an iPhone5 will be feeling better that the laggards holding on to their iPhone 4s. For those poor souls, today’s slight dissatisfaction with their current handset is sure to increase over the coming weeks and months. How many are wondering when they’ll be able to upgrade and are, even now, hopefully checking contracts and amending birthday or Christmas lists, we can but guess.

The success of the iPhone5 will not only boost the bottom line of Apple Inc. Early predictions that it could add up to 0.5 percent to U.S. GDP are proving to be a tad optimistic, but there’s not doubt that the iPhone 5 is still big – cosmically big – in economic terms. The company’s first major launch of the post-Jobs era may well establish Apple as the World’s Most Innovative BusinessTM (it’s currently languishing in fifth according to Forbes Magazine’s latest rankings).

And for me this is surely the most remarkable aspect of the story, because really, just how innovative is Apple?

Don’t get me wrong: the iPhone 5 is beautiful piece of kit, but when all said and done, it’s just a slightly better phone than the model it’s replacing. It’s not a cure for cancer, it’s not the key to nuclear fusion, and it won’t put an end to global warming.

We can also safely assume that Apple Inc is not about to task the research and development team with finding a replacement for oil, or indeed any of the clear and present challenges facing the survival of our species due to exponential population growth and the associated issues of food and energy security.

No, what’s almost certain is that they are already working on next year’s object of desire – a product tentatively named ‘iPhone 6’ – which we can expect will allow us to do pretty much everything we can with an iPhone 5, but in a slightly improved way.

Well done for shifting five million units Apple, but I can’t help thinking that, some 40 years ago, we were reserving this level of excitement for moon landings and supersonic jets.

If this really is innovation at its best, then perhaps we must accept that progress in the 21st Century will not be a matter of giant leaps for mankind, but of baby steps.

Whatever happened to the future? Weren’t we promised jetpacks?

A feature originally published on Huffington Post.


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