Apple's iOS 7 Buys Time With Ideas Borrowed From Other Mobile Platforms

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2013-06-11 Print this article Print

What Apple is doing is giving its users the features its users probably want, all in one place. By doing this, it helps the company retain its existing customers who might otherwise move on to another platform. But the change also helps Apple stay relevant in the face of a period of low innovation.

Apple didn't announce any new mobile hardware for example (except for a new MacBook Air), so users are stuck with the very long-of-tooth iPhone and an even older iPad. With nothing innovative in the near future for hardware, the company has to do something, and an updated look with some new features will certainly help.

But Apple is also running the risk of emulating the big U.S. auto manufacturers of the last decade who continued to put new features on the bloated highway yachts that were losing ground to the likes of Lexus and BMW. They satisfied some of their customers for a while, but eventually even the most loyal of the big-city police departments who bought big, beefy Ford patrol cars wanted something more modern and efficient. Those cars have died off to be replaced by far better machines that people actually want to buy.

As it stands, Apple is tempting the same fate. Despite the claims of the Apple faithful that the iPhone is the most beautiful thing ever to grace the face of the Earth, the fact is that it's yesterday's design, as is evidenced by the growing disparity between the sales of Apple and Samsung. While iOS 7 will give some people a reason to keep buying iPhones, eventually even the faithful will realize that their iPhone doesn't meet current needs in the same way that the Ford Crown Victoria fell out of favor with buyers who wanted something that worked in today's world.

Unfortunately, Apple has nothing, at least for now. There's a rumor that the iPhone 5S will make an appearance later this year, and a less credible rumor that an iPhone 6, in a larger form factor, will appear later. Compare the iPhone 5S, which will be at best a slightly improved version of today's iPhone, against the competition, and you see fewer features, a screen that's not up to current standards and relatively little innovation compared with the leaders of the competition.

What's worse is that Apple seems to have lost its ability to come up with the new hardware that users need, even while tweaking the software to help keep it relevant. This can only work for a limited time. If Apple is going to keep up with the rest of the market, it needs to start by doing more than playing catch-up.


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