Apple's reputation depends on iPhone 5S

If the next-gen smartphone doesn't blow us away, the company's clout will fall with it.

By Mar 28, 2013 2:13PM
copyright AppleOn Web forums and comment sections, there is often a fine line between zealotry and insatiability when it comes to new technology.

Be it an iPhone (AAPL) user touting apps or an Android (GOOG) user heralding the variety of form factors, a satisfied smartphone user is no stranger to being labeled a "fanboy" or a mindless drone within a sea of brand-loyal sycophants.

Conversely, should any mobile consumer find fault with a device -- it lacks LTE compatibility or the PenTile display shows notable pixel grain -- then he or she is branded a malcontent, unable to find a shred of joy in an otherwise notable release.

When it comes to technological critiques, especially in the mobile sector, there is no gray area: You're either a fanboy or a hater. And it's that lack of middle ground that has contributed to a mindset that has allowed Apple to lag behind the innovation curve.

Take Apple's most important product: the iPhone. Sleek, consistent, and -- given the extensive development from Android -- outdated. While iOS has undergone six full iterations, users are still greeted with the same user interface and the same grid of icons (albeit with an extra row since the iPhone 5 expanded its screen to four inches). 

All the while, Android and Microsoft's (MSFT) Windows Phone keep testing and developing wholly different ways -- some more successful than others -- in which users can interact with their devices. Even BlackBerry (BBRY) CEO Thorsten Heins, a man who's very familiar with accusations of complacency, derided the iPhone line as boring and based off ideas that are now five years old. (Microsoft owns and publishes Top Stocks, an MSN Money site.)

Two years ago, thanks to the zealotry mindset, the man would've been eviscerated. Heins would've been shackled to an online pillory and pelted with features like Retina Displays and Siri.

But now in 2013 with 20/20 hindsight, the guy's got a point.

While innocent, astute, and constructive criticism of the iPhone's "conservative" updates were met with knee-jerk offense, iPhone users were shielded within a protective shell -- a "walled garden," if you will -- that deflected even the slightest negative assessment of their device and maintained a blissful coexistence that largely ignored competitors' aggressive development. And although there's nothing wrong with a happy customer, it's that very zealotry that contributed to Apple's staid and stale mobile experience with incremental updates. After all, if the fans are happy and sales are high, why mess with a good thing?

Unfortunately, that leaves iPhone users nowhere but behind. 

Last year's iPhone 5 debuted with a larger screen and 4G LTE support, features that would have been met with overwhelming zeal had they been introduced two years prior. Released instead within an arena already teeming with equally speedy devices with screens far north of four inches, it was old hat. (I mean, when Apple designers are on stage in 2012 touting panoramic photos as bleeding edge technology, something is wrong.) What was once considered to be the de facto leader in mobile innovation was reduced to a very qualified also-ran. Worse yet, even some of its biggest fans have conceded that fact.

For a company like Apple, that is a monumental fall.

So now, more than any other year, fans, analysts, and investors are eagerly anticipating the release of the next iPhone -- expected to be dubbed the iPhone 5S -- with bated breath. Although the device falls in the odd "S" year where new features are categorized as "evolutionary" rather than "revolutionary," many are hoping that Apple steps up, evokes Steve Jobs-era showmanship, and blows us all away.

Besides a faster quad-core processor, longer-lasting battery, and maybe an improvement to its camera, the next iPhone desperately needs progressive features to stay relevant. The rumored "fingerprint sensor" is a start, NFC payments would be good, and wireless charging would be fantastic.

But you know what would really impress us and harken back to when Jobs introduced each version of the iPhone? Apple needs to introduce something we never even knew we needed. Something fresh and essential. Something that wasn't already implemented in a competitor's device like LTE, panoramas, or a notification window. 

Otherwise, Apple becomes something it hasn't been since before the release of the iPod. A follower.

More from Minyanville
Mar 28, 2013 4:14PM
I need an iPhone that can hold the collection on my iPod! I also want drag and drop with files between my computer and my phone! I want to add my songs as ringtones without iTunes!
Mar 28, 2013 3:34PM

First ever Iphone for me was Iphone 5 and I am not happy with it. Apple needs to let go of the restrcitions. I cannot upload dwnload files from computer, or email multiple attachments. Apple needs to open up.


Memory is so cheap now, why limit it to 8, 16, 32 GB. make it 112 GB standard.


Innovate...Come on....


Mar 28, 2013 5:34PM
I love my flip phone with NO data charges.
Mar 28, 2013 5:34PM
Come on, Apple, I've got $15K riding on you.
Mar 28, 2013 5:47PM
I'm on my second iPhone now and happy with my 4S, so happy I see no need to "upgrade"  when the 5S comes out, I'll take the sale priced 4S @.99 and use the one I have now as insurance/iPod. My iPhone does more than what I need/want it to do...maybe because I am old-fashioned and have a desk top computer plugged into my multi-function printer. Sorry folks, I just don't need a phone to do EVERYTHING for me, otherwise I used my money improperly when  I bought my P/C.
Mar 28, 2013 4:49PM
Sorry, Apple "eaters", but my Galaxy SIII beats the heck out of IPhone 5; and the new Galaxy S4 will absolutely blow IPhone off the map.
Mar 29, 2013 12:04AM
My first iPhone was the 4S in Oct 2010. Great phone!!!  No need for anything else!  The ecosystem is very supportive.  All the others are a copy of Steve Jobs concept. And look at the profit they have made, does anyone else come close?  NO!  All the crap these other guys try to sell you is just noise.  Who has 150 billion in cash, please stand up!!!!  AAPL     This is a business, and look who is the smartest now.
Mar 28, 2013 7:03PM
Ohhhhh yes I do like the Galaxy S4 ,Are you listening WORMY ! 
Mar 28, 2013 6:37PM
Unless it projects 3D HD holograms of callers, I'm not buying.  Maybe by 2017 or so it will have that feature, besides offering a prepaid plan at $20 a month. 
Mar 28, 2013 6:56PM

If Wormy does not install a hot swap battery ,removable memory card ,In the the next build I am GONE NEVER TO RETURN . I have been with the iphone since day one! And been faithful as they fell by the way side ,Wonder boy Jobs is guilty here ,he is the one that let it slip away .   They did the same thing with the desktop ,They were to slow to allow geaks to mess with the insides back in the day . People went to the PC you could mess with it and it became so much cheaper to do so .

REMOVABLE BATTERY , MEMORY CARD is the minimum, are you listening ????

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