Apple’s release of the iPhone 5 has created yet another mixed reception among would-be customers and analysts, who say that while the new device is a good example of Apple’s detailed focus on design, it’s also a disappointment.
The same analysts also point out Apple hasn’t had a major product release since 2010 with the original iPad, and that customers are waiting for another huge, innovative product launch.
But some analysts and app designers say while the new iPhone 5 is an evolution, rather than a revolution, Apple is still on the right track and point out consumers may have their expectations warped.
Telsyte research director Foad Fadaghi says Apple is “playing it safe”, but also points out it can afford to do this.
“Who else has come up with something revolutionary during this time period?”
“While Apple hasn’t been revolutionary, we haven’t seen anything from its competitors apart from some items that are fairly risky. And given current economic conditions it’s risky to be releasing something like that.”
“No doubt the company is developing things that are quite out there. But right now, this is a product marketed to its customer base, it’s not going to wow any Samsung customers to switch over.”
Fadaghi says the strategy appears to be, for now, to maintain its leadership and market share.
“When you’re the largest company in the world, you don’t really need to be as innovative as someone who is a challenger.”
Marc Edwards, chief executive of apps development studio Bjango, also points out that sales have not only been consistent among iPhones, but have grown every year.
“There is this assumption that companies should release new, revolutionary models each year. But it’s clear Apple is moving towards an ideal device, and anything that diverges from that path won’t be followed.”
Apple even said as much in its marketing video for the product, with industrial designer Jonny Ive saying the company takes changing the device “very seriously”. While there have been some cosmetic changes, it hasn’t dramatically differed from the iPhone 4S or iPhone 4.
Another argument has put forward that because it’s been so long since the release of a new product – the iPad in 2010 – consumers are getting restless. But Edwards says these releases are not the norm.
“There was three years before the iPhone and the iPad. The Mac was in 1984. The iPod was in 2001. What we’re seeing here is not normal.”
“And usually, the big change comes with different input methods. Multitouch enabled the smartphone, and then the mouse for the Mac, and so on.”
Fadaghi agrees Apple just may be waiting for new technology to make some imaginary products viable. Until that time, as long as it maintains market share and profitability, incremental upgrades are good enough.
“We might need to see the next version of micro processing technology to see something innovative.”
“But overall, if they don’t think it’s broken, they’re not going to change it.”