iPhone Appeal Is Gone!
Whether iPhone appeal is gone is both a statement and a question to visitors of this site. When it comes to Apple products, I've never loved or hated them. I tend not to buy their computing products as I enjoy greater flexibility and options, and enjoy lower pricing for similar or better specs. As for smartphones, everything else notwithstanding, I want to be able to customize my home screen and launcher, I want/demand expandable memory (i.e. SD/microSD card), and I enjoy industry standard micro USB chargers. But that's just me.
There's no doubt that the iPhone revolutionized the smartphone industry by taking the first real smartphone (the Palm Treo), and making it look sexier, adding awesome multi-touch, a beautiful screen, and unparalleled stability. Even though it lacked basic features (ex. copy/paste), it still brought customer expectations to a new elevated level of design and performance. It was a game-changer, and put innovators like Palm out of business, while taking over the number one position in terms of worldwide sales (and profits!).
Almost exactly six years after its initial launch (June 29, 2007), one can honestly ask what does the current iPhone 5 (iOS7) have to offer over other devices? Arguably, given its lack of customizability and general settings and options, it can be said to be easier to use, and even more fluid and stable; however, beyond that, it lacks in virtually ever other area. No one will argue that Apple has been playing catch-up for at least the past couple of years. And that's not necessarily a bad thing. Being first or truly innovative doesn't really matter when customers like us are looking at a device to buy today. How does it work NOW? What does it offer me NOW? Do I care who was first, or who ripped off who?
I like that iOS is available to every iPhone model at virtually the same time, so I can be confident about my upgrade path. I suppose that's much easier to accomplish when they essentially only
sell one new device per year(!). However, after a phone is a couple of years old, installing a new OS probably isn't a good idea anyway, as the hardware specifications likely can't support the latest and greatest features. So unless it's fixing a major issue, beyond a couple of years I don't really care about upgrading. In addition, despite Android's clear fragmentation issue, its innate ability to customize the UI and other key features with 3rd party apps provides a lot of flexibility, and the general evolution of the Android OS is far faster than iOS simply due to the nature of its open architecture.
I've seen prepaid wireless carriers clammer to offer the iPhone for years, seeing it as the barrier to their growth. And while it's still an important device to offer, demand for other high end, and extremely capable devices, like the Samsung Galaxy lineup have generated even more excitement. So, again, is the appeal of the iPhone gone? I would say that it's still an iconic device, however, its tangible benefits in terms of features and usability are arguably no longer there. Perhaps it's analogous to the loss of appeal of the original Mac when Microsoft launched Windows.
What's certainly clear by the data alone, is that Apple will no longer dominate the smartphone industry in the long term. It will no doubt continue to be popular, however, it's no longer the "must have" device, and it certainly is no longer the benchmark for smartphones. This was certainly a foreseeable outcome, however, in a way, it's kind of sad that Apple couldn't keep up with the pace of innovation to stay ahead of the game. Though, that's never been their strategy. The real question now is whether (and when) they'll be able to bring out the next innovation to keep people interesting and excited. After the iPhone was the iPad; the world is now clammering for the next new exciting gadget in the wake of the transition of the iPhone from awesome to mundane.