September 12, 2012

Why today's iPhone5 announcement matters

It's finally here.

For months the press has been beset by rumors, in bits and pieces. Speculation really. A small piece of news here, a new case with new dimensions and cutouts there. Hardly investigative journalism but tech blogs dutifully (and rabidly) gobbled it up and attempted to make a whole picture out of it. To determine the details of the new iPhone, like kids trying to find the hiding place of the Christmas presents before the big day.

But today's the day that matters. The day Apple formally and finally takes the wraps off the newest iPhone and reveals it to the world.

For months now pundits and bloggers have speculated on what the new phone would look like. In the beginning they said it would be rebuilt from the ground up, totally different. Time for a new design, we were told. 

Personally, I don't anticipate anything totally new or earth-shattering. No holographic display or keyboard (although I've seen mock-ups of a holographic keyboard that actually makes sense and looks SICK). However, in recent weeks the needle has fallen back closer to reality: it will mainly be thinner. Maybe a bit taller. And it will have a different dock connector.

So, everyone's eagerly anticipating today's unveiling. And why shouldn't they? For one, the iPhone is the most popular phone on the planet and has been since the first one was released. So this upgrade, and all the associated breakthroughs that will be unveiled along with it today, instantly affect those users, either now or when they inevitably upgrade. Second, just about everything Apple does in the mobile space is copied by others, be it Android, Windows Phone, Nokia, Samsung, LG, etc. Eventually some permutation of an idea Apple had will show up in someone else's device. Some historical data to back this up: complete touch screen phones were virtually non-existent before the iPhone. However, as soon as it was released, others followed suit. Now a complete touch screen phone is the norm, and we look at phones with keyboards as being quite quaint (looking at you here, Blackberry). The same thing happened with high-resolution screens, personal voice assistants (a la Siri), and the ubiquity of apps.  All pioneered by Apple, and copied by others.

So, today's iPhone 5 announcement really will be a bellwether for the mobile phone industry.
Who should care about what's announced today? Everyone.

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