How do you stay pumped about the iPhone the other 364 days of the year?Anna Scantlin - Contributing Editor
Apple's role in the smartphone world has changed rather drastically since the first iPhone was introduced in 2007. Although the first iPhone wasn't the first smartphone to have been invented, looking back now it was undoubtedly the true start of the smartphone generation that we are living in today. It's even kind of funny when you travel back a few years and sift through some of the many articles predicting that the iPhone would be a complete and utter flop because it would be too complicated, too expensive, or even not good enough compared to other handsets out at the time. Hindsight is 20/20, though, and we sit here and sensibly chuckle at those posts for being so very wrong about the iPhone and the amount of success it would experience over the next several years.
There is something very peculiar about Apple's iPhone today, though. Back in 2007, of course, it was really its own competition. Even if you hated Apple products with a fiery burning passion, you can't deny that at the time of its release it was the bees' knees, and what did you have to compare to it? BlackBerry was likely the stiffest competition that Apple had at the time, but even then the iPhone was still a completely different device from what BlackBerry had to offer and could easily stand on its own and make a name for itself. An entire year would go by before Android went public, so until then Apple had an entire year to reap the rewards of such an innovative and revolutionary product. Needless to say (but I'll go ahead and say it anyway) the iPhone came in at the right place and the right time.
And really, the phone was able to sell itself. There wasn't a lot of people who didn't know what the iPhone was after it was first introduced. This statement holds true even more today. I still hear "iPhone" used as a general blanket term for smartphones in general by a lot of people who aren't savvy in this industry; it's kind of like when people call all game consoles "Nintendos", or all tissues "Kleenex". The iPhone is just "that brand" that people associate smartphones with. That being said, although the iPhone name is still widely popular, how well is the phone itself actually doing after 7 generations?
Pretty darn good, actually. At least, for now. It's easy to say that for now because Apple just recently released their iPhone 5s and 5c phones in September, and without many phones to follow up after the iPhone in 2013, the iPhone becomes a pretty hot topic the last few months of the year. Once the new year starts is where the hard part comes in for the iPhone, for a variety of reasons.
But we'll start with the biggest hurdle, and in my opinion that's Samsung. In fact, the iPhone 5s and 5c were announced just one day before Samsung's Note 3 was announced this year. While the Note line is arguably one of the best phones to show up on the market each year spec-wise, the large screen that the Note is notorious for having is still something that not everybody is on board with. Still, the Note does seem to be contiuously gaining ground with customers with each new generation introduced, which is bad news for Apple, especially when the device is being announced and released so close to Apple's own. And the Samsung train doesn't stop there, as we all know. Samsung is a lean, mean phone-pumping machine. Not only do you have the Note line, which is usually introduced around the same time as the iPhone, but you also have the Galaxy S line, the new Galaxy Mega line, and presumably some more Galaxy lines to come in the future (i.e. the Galaxy Round) all with scattered releases throughout the year. As much as I like to poke fun at Samsung for releasing so many devices all year 'round, there's no denying that this business model is working out quite well for them. I think it's because it continuously piques the interest of consumers. Samsung is always around with a new product of some type, so there's always something to talk about when it comes to Samsung.
As for Apple, I haven't had much to say about the iPhone in a hot minute. Apple generally has one release once a year (although this year we got lucky with two iPhones) and that's it. That's not much to work off of for the 364 days (or something close to it) that follow until the next iPhone announcement. You can come up with some topics here and there, but if you write about it too often you're going to risk sounding like a broken record. It doesn't help, aside from this year with the introduction of iOS 7, that iOS has largely remained unchanged. Phones like the HTC One, which sit in a similar boat to the iPhone in the fact that it's really only had one true iteration of the device (with different sizes) released this year, have a lot more ground to cover given the history of HTC and the changes their phones have been through in order to get to the One. As for Apple, it's always been one (now two) phones, one somewhat simplistic platform, with one release a year.
So with that in mind, and without trying to get all "doomsday" on you guys, I do have to wonder how long this particular business model will work for Apple. It worked very well for Apple when Android was clearly inferior when it comes to stability and BlackBerry was quickly losing ground, but now that Android has made the advancements that they have and have as many phones and as much attention that they do, how long will Apple be able to keep the iPhone interesting all year based off of that one event releasing that one (or two) phones with pretty much the same OS it has always had? Although Apple hasn't fallen off the wagon yet, I'm seeing Apple's once overpowering influence slipping in society.
But now I want to hear your thoughts, readers. Do you think that the iPhone still has a strong enough influence to keep people interested all year until their next phone release, or do you think Apple is going to need to develop some new strategies in order to keep up? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!