Hello! And welcome to our Friday column, Worst of the Week. There’s a lot of nutty stuff that goes on in this industry, so this column is a chance for us at RCRWireless.com to rant and rave about whatever rubs us the wrong way. We hope you enjoy it!
And without further ado:
Last week, I used this soapbox to go into some detail regarding Apple’s current “issues” in regards to the iPhone and how it’s positioned in the market and comparing its current 4S model to a non-too-handsome product of the U.S. automotive industry. This was mostly based on some “sky-is-falling” predictions made by observers following the release of quarterly results by the device maker and some wireless carriers. (Obviously, just about every device maker in the world would do unspeakable things to have the current “troubles” plaguing Apple, but that’s another story.)
This was also based on my obsession with the Pontiac Aztek.
This week I thought I would continue playing along with the view that Apple is a small mis-step away from financial ruin and claim to be in any position to provide advice to the brain trust in Cupertino, Calif., as for ways to avoid this calamity.
This all leads to what Apple has in store for the 2012 iPhone variant, and more importantly the importance that product has to Apple. Nearly every website has some sort of “insider” scoop on what the next device will look like, what its specifications will be and even what it will be called. But, as history has shown, 95% of these are incorrect.
Instead, I will lay out what I think are just a few specifications the next iPhone needs to have in order for Apple to maintain its prominent position in the market.
–More durable construction: The current all-glass design, while chic, has proven to be a disaster for people with “Disaster” as a middle name. Sure, cases can help out this problem, but all that really shows is that the original design is insufficient. Liquid metal, carbon fiber, Kryptonite … it doesn’t matter. The next iPhone needs to be more durable.
–Bigger screen: Not that there is anything wrong with something that measure 3.5-inches, but Apple needs to boost the screen size of its next device. The current model is beginning to look quaint when set up next to other smartphones boasting screens sized in the 4-inch range. I don’t think Apple needs to go to the high-side of that, but something in the low 4-inch range would do wonders. From what I am told, that is plenty
–Camera technology: Apple has done wonders when it comes to pushing the camera-quality envelop of current smartphones. However, this feature has stood the test of time when it comes to gadgets embedded into smartphone and thus device makers need to begin taking it seriously. While optics quality are seen as pretty good in the current 4S, it might be time for Apple to work some trickery in finding a way to include an optical-zoom feature into the device. Something in the order of 3x zoom would put it on par with most point-and-shoot cameras, and would likely put a significant dent in the sales of those devices. And if Apple is known for anything, it’s in putting other industries out of business.
–Bigger battery: While most people have become trained to charge their smartphones every night, and or prepare to battle their fellow man in claiming the last remaining electrical outlet in any public venue, wouldn’t it be nice if you could wait to charge your phone every-other night? Motorola showed with its Razr Maxx that a fat battery does not have to result in a fat phone, plus with a bigger screen size there should be more real estate in which to squeeze in some more lithium ion.
Sure, this will take away the sport of watching gladiator matches break out in airports across the country, but I am willing to forsake that little moment of bliss for the good of humanity.
–Name: I know everyone has already decreed the next iPhone to be called the iPhone 5, but that just seems too easy. I don’t think Apple needs to ditch the “iPhone” moniker as that alone is money on the bank, but perhaps come up with a new descriptive term that is warmer than a simple number.
Plus, to name the next iPhone the iPhone 5 is just screwing up the whole naming scenario. I know Apple has already done this with its 3GS and 4S models, but what better time than now to get back on track. The current iPhone is the fifth iteration of the device and should have been so named. Since that did not happen, the next iPhone can solve that problem by at least being called the iPhone 6 in lieu of some other awesome name, like Kryptonite.
–Price: This is the trickiest specification, but the one that could most significantly impact the market. With all these advances I have already proposed, Apple needs to price the next iPhone at a premium. Base models should begin at no less than $300 after carrier subsidies, with a $400 price tag an even better idea. Some would say that sort of increase would begin to encroach into iPad territory, and I say “yes it does.”
However, I think people would be willing to pay that price for a device that they will carry around with them 24/7, providing continuous connectivity, a camera that can be used to take real pictures and durability to survive whatever is thrown its way or that it’s thrown at. The iPad is a great product, but it lacks half the usefulness of an iPhone and a name that is 10-times as funny.
This move could also begin to mend bridges with carrier partners that have begun to turn their marketing efforts towards Apple’s competitors. By allowing carriers to better stomach the device subsidies that are still required to push phones out the door, Apple could tamp out this Android insurrection currently pounding at the palace gates.
Apple can continue offering the 4S model to consumers for the $200 and below price points, which will keep those counting their pennies happy as well as provide no-contract operators with a solid model they can continue selling. This would also allow more time for Apple to blow through some 4S inventory that just has to be piling up somewhere.
–Made in the U.S.A.: I have previously touched on this subject, but it again bears repeating. Obviously it’s too late in the development cycle for Apple to begin producing these devices in the United States for an expected launch later this year, but it’s not too early to begin planning that move for the next iteration. Apple already has many of the components inside of the iPhone sourced from domestic factories, which could help in the supply chain of producing the entire device stateside.
This would also be a feather in its cap as it battles foreign entities for domestic smartphone dominance and would further differentiate its products in the market.
You will note that I have said nothing about processor speeds or embedded memory as those games are simply not worth playing. Just put in a fast processor and a nice, marketable amount of memory and call it good. Also, LTE compatibility is also a given as to do anything less would simply allow for more groaning from the peanut gallery.
For obvious reasons, none of these “recommendations” will or should be actually listened to as my nose for what consumers want went out the window with “The Spice Girls.” The only two things that I will predict and can guarantee will be true is that:
–People will camp outside Apple stores to get their paws on the latest iPhone.
–There will be a lot of unhappy fan-boys.
OK, enough of that.
Thanks for checking out this week’s Worst of the Week column. And now for some extras:
–It looks like wireless carriers have found a new way to handle capacity in crowded venues: reduce expectations. A new survey from CommProve found that one-third of people do not expect to have 3G services at major events. The survey also noted that nearly one-third also do not expect to be able place or receive a voice call while surrounded by thousands of their newest friends.
Well done mobile industry.
–This can’t be how it ends? Word this week that AT&T was set to acquire basically all that was left of NextWave sent a nostalgic shiver down my typically weak and shiver-prone spine.
NextWave was such a central player to so many mis-adventures in the wireless space over the past 15 years that to see that name disappear would be akin to removing Jar Jar Binks from the “Star Wars” timeline. Perhaps the best was when the FCC held Auction 35, which included spectrum it “revoked” from NextWave, and managed to gather winning bids totaling around $17 billion, only to then have that whole auction thrown out after a court ruled the FCC did not have the right to revoke those license. Good times.
We’ll miss ya’ NextWave.
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