A little perspective on the iPhone 4s

Apple’s iPhone 4s announcement was accompanied by some particularly fickle commentary on Twitter. The criticism basically came down to a bunch of armchair critics complaining because the iPhone that was announced was not a full version number higher than the pretty awesome iPhone 4 but was a measly iPhone 4s. I am sure it was shocking that the usual hysterical hype that has been building up for the last few months was not entirely accurate too. I mean, if there was a grainy photo of someone holding something that looked like an iPhone and who thought, for a moment, that it would be cool if the screen was bigger and the phone itself sweated unicorn tears and that photo can’t be relied on as a totally accurate preview of something Apple has historically kept ultra-secret … well, then whatever Apple comes up with just isn’t good enough!

(Give me a break)

While this measly device is just an iPhone 4s and not an iPhone 5, the fact remains is that it is, at least on specs, even better than the iPhone 4. It has a faster processor, better camera, beautiful design, the new iOS5 (which admittedly copies Android in many ways and doesn’t exactly reinvent the wheel) and it has really advanced voice recognition technology coupled with some form of intelligence that enables the phone to understand your questions about the weather, movies and stuff and give you answers! The iPhone 4s is a really advanced piece of technology that we get to carry in our pockets and do things that were science fiction just a few years ago.

As far as it not being called the iPhone 5 (if you are fixated on the version number, you really need to go get some sunshine), this is what Apple does. The first iPhone was, well, the iPhone. The next one was the iPhone 3G (not even the iPhone 2). The next was the iPhone 3Gs and it was a component upgrade on the iPhone 3G. Only after the iPhone 3G and iPhone 3Gs (each was better than the previous one, by the way) did the iPhone 4 arrive (in mid-2010, I might add). The iPhone 4 reportedly accounts for half of all iPhone sales. That is pretty good. If the naming convention means anything, it is that Apple doesn’t just update its iPhone version numbers every year. The expectations of an iPhone 5 come from all the speculation leading up to the official announcement.

By the way, “speculation” means –

the forming of a theory or conjecture without firm evidence

While some of the predictions were pretty much correct (that it would be called an iPhone 4s, that it would likely have the A5 chip and an 8 megapixel camera), the rest of them were, predictably, nonsense and yet the armchair Twitter critics I was following bought into all that wishful thinking completely and responded with outrage that they didn’t get the upgrade they felt entitled to. As my 3 year old son would say, that is just silly!

In any event, my theory about Apple updates is that Apple updates its products just enough to maintain a competitive edge over its competitors. Apple’s competitors largely emulate Apple (take a look at Samsung, for example) so it doesn’t make sense for Apple to push the envelope with each product release. Instead, incremental updates maintain its edge and the occasional leap ahead (such as Siri which I am disappointed I won’t be able to use on my iPhone 4) keeps the industry on its toes. If that theory is correct, it would have been unrealistic to expect a levitating iPhone 5 that gives birth to winged unicorns, at least not now.

One of the problems with this latest event is that there was no Steve Jobs Reality Distortion field. It was Tim Cook’s first act as CEO and the first time he was really expected to step into some pretty big shoes. He just isn’t Steve Jobs and while Apple’s products have probably been in development for years, he doesn’t have the Steve Jobs effect. That isn’t so much the problem as it is that people were expecting Steve Jobs 2.0 with the mythical iPhone 5. Their expectations were unrealistic.

To round out my little tirade I’d like to point to two events that have more serious implications. The first is that there are still hundreds of families, possibly more, who are trying to put their lives back together after two tornadoes in the last couple days. The second is that the South African government has bent over for the Chinese government and refused a visa to the Dalai Lama, a truly inspiring man, who was invited to a birthday party and emerged as “worse than the Apartheid government”.

To end off this post, here is a classic rant about how everything is awesome and no-one is happy. Louis CK’s comments apply very nicely to this whole “OMG-it’s-not-an-iPhone-5” controversy:

How about a little perspective?

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