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Disappointed there’s no iPhone 5? Look in the mirror, not at Apple.

by Jonathan Barrick


I watched today’s Apple iPhone announcement from my iPhone 3GS while cruising down the highway to the airport. It’s an event I’ve certainly been looking forward to as my 3GS, while indeed a reliable, solid, and functional device, is getting more than a bit dated. The battery drains pretty fast (as was evidenced in my constant refreshing of Twitter today), it’s slow by comparison to newer mobile devices, the camera is lacking both in MP and a flash, but for all intents and purposes, it’s still pretty good.

I’ve avoided getting the iPhone 4 simply because I didn’t get my 3GS until it was almost time for Apple to announce the 4. At that point, it didn’t make sense to toss the device I’d just got in favour of the 4, since the improvements (while impressive) didn’t ‘wow’ me enough to justify it. So, I waited until the next generation was released.

That day arrived today. Now, I’d been following most of the news leading up to today’s event, and I was getting pretty jazzed up about it. But I really didn’t put too much stock in to all the hype. I knew it would be a vast improvement over the 4, but who can say exactly what was in store for us today? Well, the pundits, bloggers, and media sure thought they did. They’ve been speculating for months, releasing any tidbit of ‘news’ from supposedly ‘reliable’ sources. Guessing wildly about what might be.

It’s resulted in a lot of people getting their hopes up. Way up. And some of those waiting patiently for the news were clearly not disappointed. However there were many that were. In my observations of the Twitter stream of iPhone-related comments, there was a healthy mix of ‘WOW! Awesome!’ tweets and ‘Fail. Apple blew it.’ tweets. I get the positive tweets, but why so much negativity about how Apple failed?

Think about it: The iPhone (in any iteration) pretty much sets the universal standard by which all other smartphones are judged. I’m not saying that as a ‘fanboy’, but simply looking at what else is out there and the sheer volume of devices being sold across all manufacturers. It’s undeniable that Apple’s innovations and designs in the touch-screen smartphone industry have trickled down to all other manufacturers in some form or another. Apple changed the game with the original iPhone, bottom line.

This means they’re also held to a much higher standard than the others. Their innovations, refinements, and changes are judged on a completely different level than HTC or Samsung. So, every device Apple releases is expected to reach exponentially higher and higher levels of performance, moreso than any other company. If their improvements aren’t ‘up-to-par’ according to what the arbitrary perceived standard is, people feel justified in yelling ‘BOOOOO!!!’.

This is what happened today. By all accounts, the 4S is a major improvement over the current 4. Much better battery life (yay), much better camera (yay), full 1080p video recording (yay), up to 64gb memory (yay), dual-core A5 chip (yay), Worldphone (yay).

And yet, so many people are still calling ‘FAIL’. Seriously? Because Apple’s actual device did not meet the standards of months of speculation, hearsay, wishing, dreaming, ‘what-if’s’, competitive posturing, and flat-out guessing there are scores of people saying that Apple blew it. Apple never said there would be a radical redesign of the form factor. Apple never said they would be calling it the iPhone 5. Apple never promised anything. The media did that for them. Sorry, but if you expected the phone of your wildest dreams to be placed in your hands today, you’re the only one to blame. You set your own expectations based on speculation, nothing more.

Today, Apple did what every successful tech company does: Release a major update and improvement to an incredibly popular product. If the features are enough to make you upgrade or switch, great. If not, sorry, I guess it’s not for you. Apple’s success doesn’t hinge on the accuracy of speculation. It is the result of releasing quality products that deliver on their promises.

It’s for this reason my next device will be the iPhone 4S. Why? Because I like my 3GS a lot. I like the interface, the feel, the functions. If I can get a similar device that’s significantly improved in every measurable way, I’ll be very happy. Thanks, Apple. I’m looking forward to October 14th.