Since when are exclusive features a bad thing?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from Arizona
Published: October 15, 2011

Exclusivity has an ugly head. In truth, while it’s a great tool for manufacturers, and sometimes even carriers, to show off and bring in new customers, it’s something that many people just get frustrated over. But, when a feature is obviously exclusive to a specific device, and it becomes known that that particular feature can run on a previously released device, I’m getting confused as to why people are surprised by this. And yes, at this very moment I’m talking about Siri and the news that a few folks out there are working quite hard to get the feature on the iPhone 4.

If you’ve been keeping tabs on Siri, and the release of the iPhone 4S, then you know that Siri is one of the new features that Apple is promoting with the new handset. Not surprisingly, Apple is touting Siri as an iPhone 4S-only feature. Now, and I can’t remember specifically, I don’t think Apple’s higher-ups actually said that Siri won’t work on an iPhone 4; they simply revealed the new feature, showed it off, and said that it will be only on the iPhone 4S. An iPhone 4S-only feature. If that doesn’t make sense to anyone out there, then I’m not sure what to say. We know that the iPhone 4S and iPhone 4 don’t look different, and so Apple needs these types of features to make the new device stand out.

To put it bluntly, they need things like the A5 dual-core processor, the much-improved camera, and Siri to make the iPhone 4S one of the most popular iPhones out there. And, while there’s a few people out there that don’t think any of those things make an exciting new handset, the pre-orders and purchases would probably do well to argue the point.

In any event, after the news broke of Siri’s impending arrival on an iPhone 4, I was reading through the comments sections of a few of the stories out there, and I was kind of shocked. For the most part, people seem to understand that Apple is marketing Siri as an iPhone 4S feature because they’re trying to make the device stand out, and essentially sell phones and make money. Okay, that’s great – what’s scary is all the people who paint Apple in a negative light because that’s what they are doing. It’s scary because it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. First, of course Apple is going to market new features for a new device to sell – that should be obvious. But, more to the point are there people out there who seriously think Apple is in the wrong to do this?

Let’s hope not. But, if there are, then we really have to hope that these same folks aren’t Android fans, right? Because during the life of Android, I can’t even count on one hand how many times that’s happened. And, just outside of Android, if we look at the life of proprietary user interfaces for Android devices, the number can potentially sky rocket. Exclusive features are a part of the industry, and there’s no way they are going anywhere anytime soon. It is a fool-proof way for companies to make sure that they’ve got that hook for new customers. And no, Apple isn’t the only company out there that touts exclusive features, or even hints that new features won’t work on old devices. It happens.

So I have to ask: since when are exclusive features a bad thing? Are we really at the point where we expect our new devices to not only have new features, but to have most (if not all) of those new features available to our old devices? Why would you be excited about a new device ever again, then?

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