Killing Jony Ive's sacred cow
Apple clearly thought long and hard about size formats before launching the iPhone. They started with a clean sheet, so didn't need to conform to category norms or expectations. This gave Jony Ive and his team total freedom to develop the most appropriate form factor. When the iPhone launched, the shape, depth and screen size all seemed to be the product of an unrelenting search for excellence with ergonomic rigour a major factor in the design process. As Jony Ive suggested in the iPhone 5 video: he looked at the human hand and created a device that sits easily within it. Of course, there will have been people for whom it was too small or too big. But for most, I think the iPhone felt instinctively right from the moment they first picked it up.
When you look at the iPhone's rise to market leadership, the size of the installed user base, with both achieved over a relatively short period of time, the inescapable conclusion is that Apple did it right. When it works so well and is universally acclaimed to do so, you don't mess with a winning formula, i.e. you don't change for the sake of change. Of course, the market thrives on change. We all want the new, new thing, so people expect Apple to innovate for the sake of innovation. We asked for a larger iPhone and we got the iPad. People asked for a smaller iPad, and soon the iPad Mini will be here. People still asked for a larger iPhone and so we got the iPhone 5 with its longer screen.
It amuses me that some people have described the iPhone 5 as the iPhone 4S ii. So my question is: has Apple got this latest iteration right? Or has hubris blinkered Cupertino's finest? I love my iPhone. I love its software. I don't need it to be changed. It just works. I would still be using my IPhone 1 if Apple hadn't introduced successive models to replace it. It's like my QUERTY keyboard. I've used the standard QUERTY layout for almost 20 years. I don't want it to change. In fact, I would be appalled if it was no longer offered on any new laptop I bought, unless... ...unless someone produced something demonstrably better. The thing is they have, but everyone is so used to QUERTY that it has remained an absolute standard.
We're all using our iPhones to do much more than we might ever have originally planned to do with them. My iPhone is much, much more than just a phone.. In fact, it is almost as if the phone function is the least important feature. I'm exaggerating a bit, but I do use my iPhone as an email device, to schedule appointments, to watch movies and TV content when I'm stuck at airports waiting for delayed flights. I do use it as an iPod. I do use it to surf the net, to do online shopping, to check data. In fact, I use it as a mini computer. Frankly, I would like more real estate.
I realise that giving it a larger screen so people can use an iPhone for more than just phoning, will compromise its primary functionality, but its a trade-off I'm willing to make. I like the screen and size format of the Samsung Galaxy SIII very much. It feels good in my hand. Unfortunately, the construction lacks quality. It feels flimsy and lacking in durability. Most important of all the software lacks the elegant simplicity and easy-to-use intuitiveness of iOS. I'm not going to abandon by iPhone without a very, very good reason. However, sooner or later, someone, somewhere will come up with a breakthrough technology. Then i will switch... I'd just like the people who do this to be Apple.
Ultimately, what I 'm saying is that I think screen width has become a sacred cow at Apple, but I'm not sure sure it needs to be. I also wonder whether I know what I really need or want in a phone? maybe Apple knows me better than I know myself?