As a digital strategist I feel obliged to try and remain as up to date with technology as I possibly can. However I’m not silly enough to splurge vast wads of cash owning the latest device as soon as it’s released. Particularly when the upgrade on my current model actually appears to be more of an inconvenience than an improvement. Yes folks, I’m talking about the iPhone 5. Ok, so it’s an improvement on the 4, but is it really that much better? I was due an upgrade of my phone back in September however my initial perception was that the main difference was that the phone was thinner but taller, with a few other bits and bobs that didn’t really leap out. And add in that an upgrade would also include forced acceptance of IOS6 and that I’d need to buy new unsightly lightening cables to connect the new phone to my music docks.
Ignoring these immediate negatives, the phone is not without merits but it’s not a great improvement. In fact it reminded me of a talk I attended with the great marketer Seth Godin a few years ago. Seth said that if you were trying to sell a consumer an upgrade of a product, whether they be your own, or that of a competitor, you couldn’t be just 5-10% better as it wasn’t enough to encourage consumers to upgrade. Now, if you were talking about a product that was say 50% better, consumers were suddenly interested. So, how could Apple have wooed me into a purchase? Well they could have started with improved battery life (like the Galaxy), or improved charging via wifi (Nokia Lumia 930), or even an improvement in the camera (Galaxy Cam looks pretty sweet however Nokia are rumoured to be testing a 40mp camera phone…), but they didn’t. The iPhone 5 is sitting in that 5-10% improvement category. I can still do everything I need to (listen to music, watch Sky Go, Whatsapp, Skype, read the Guardian/ Economist) and the phone is still in perfect condition without a scratch on it.
So, what comes next? What’s that 50% improvement that Apple are going to offer me to encourage me to purchase either the iPhone 5s or even the iPhone 6? If rumours are true, Apple have already patented an all glass phone (http://ow.ly/fPnHo ). Great! An all glass phone! That’s just what all those clumsy folk walking round London with cracked iPhone screens are looking for! As I mentioned above, my iPhone is unscratched however that has more to do with the fact that it’s housed in a rubber case with a thin slice of unscratchable plastic placed over the screen. I’ve dropped it many a time and often carry it in my pocket with my keys. Is an all glass iPhone going to have more life?
Maybe Apple are approaching things the wrong way? Maybe they should take more notice of what the competition are up to? Maybe they need to consider flexible phones. Something a bit more durable? Less scratchable . Rumours abound and prototypes released suggest that 2013 could well be the year of the flexible phone (http://ow.ly/fPo9C ). Wow! Seriously! Sign me up! Ignoring the obvious novelty of a flexible, bendable phone, it’s going to be a lot more durable than existing phones, without the weight or glass of current phones. Now, there’s no guarantee that the first roll out of these phones will be up to the mark, but it’s that game changing 50% improvement on my existing phone that might just get me buying…
Oh, and finally, I appreciate that younger readers may not get the reference to Access and the flexible friend in the title. This should bring you up to speed: