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No, the iPhone isn’t boring

With this morning’s launch, there has been a slew of articles proclaiming that the iPhone 5 is boring.

Reviewers, quick to call winners and losers in the space, have spent the last few months lamenting that the iPhone doesn’t offer more. Even some hard-core Apple fans questioned whether the iPhone can continue to trail blaze or if it’s becoming a snoozer. One Apple employee recently confided he had been hoping the new device would have more dramatic changes.

In short, a longer phone with an interface that looks the same since 2007, just doesn’t sound like progress.

I can’t help but sense that people are missing the point. Let’s take look.

  • No NFC. NFC is still at a nascent state of adoption. While it could be Apple’s prerogative as a market leader to push for its adoption, the market may not be ripe for NFC just yet. The mobile payments space is still sorting itself out, and the success of platforms like Square would make NFC redundant.

  • There are bigger screens. As Dustin Curtis pointed out a year ago, phones with massive screens actually turn out to be less usable. While they make great selling points, the usability of the device worsens.

  • iOS is stale. Yes, it doesn’t have the visual embellishments as its competitors. And yes, there are certain aspects that could definitely be improved upon. But iOS still is the most usable mobile interface out there; an interface that gets out of the way and gives us access to what we want, quickly and simply.

  • It’s just longer. A radical new design doesn’t make something better. Look back at the previous iPhones, each one really is an incremental update. With each new version, Apple iterates on what works, towards the goal of the ideal they set out to create in 2005.

"Purple"

From Cult of Mac.

Apple has never been about features for the sake of features. Features do make a phone stand out in the market. People do buy phones based on the longer spec sheet. But after a while, the gloss wears off and we only care about the things that matter to us.

In fact, over the next year, it is the innovation in mobile software that will impact users the most. Passbook for example, is a disruptive software play that doesn’t involve a bet-the-farm hardware aspect to it.

The Apple and Google developer ecosystems constantly advance what we can do with a mobile phone. What ends up defining a smartphone is more than just hardware. Apple knows this, and they have provided a great piece of hardware for developers to take advantage of.

So the next time you see a new phone, think about what truly excites you about it. Is it the long feature list? Or how well it works and feels when your life?

Apple finely balances what we actually use, with what we think we’ll use. And that’s what the iPhone 5 is, executed to perfection. For now.

To some, this repetition is now boring. But I think Apple looks at it the opposite way: they’re perfecting their trick. – MG Siegler

Catch me on Twitter over here.

 
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