I want to play a game...

September 11, 2013

Billy the puppet from Saw

It’s the day after the much-awaited release of new iPhone models, which means it’s only a matter of hours until we start seeing the classic post-event reactions from the press. The same story happens every year, of course, with almost mathematical precision. Allow me to summarize this now standard procedure in ten easy steps:

1) A few months ahead of a suspected new iPhone release, the press starts suggesting random features and building up incredible expectations, citing mostly “sources close to the supply-chain” and “people familiar with the matter who wished to remain anonymous”.

2) Out of the many features that those “industry analysts” come up with (some of them utterly ridiculous), a few start becoming more popular due to sheer repetition, and a consensus is reached by the press that if Apple doesn’t implement them in the new iPhone, then Apple is doomed.

3) One to two months before the suspected release, pieces about how “Apple is losing ground to Android”, and “facing increased competition from Samsung” appear everywhere. The new iPhone is Apple’s last hope.

4) In the last few days before Apple unveils the new iPhone, most news outlets publish “rumor round-up” pieces, trying to guess what the phone will look like. At this stage, mockups of the new device surface everywhere and most people take them as fact.

5) 24 hours before the event, some outlets try to backtrack a bit, downplaying their previously-reported-as-fact rumor pieces in case they screw up stupendously.

6) The actual new iPhone is introduced, which of course looks nothing like the mockups and includes maybe one (two at the most) of the features mentioned by the press.

7) The two journalists who guessed the correct features rush to point out how they were right all along (“Called it!”). The rest of the press declares the new iPhone a failure for not including any of the other features. Reactions are typical: only fanboys will buy it, Steve Jobs never would have done it, innovation is over, Apple is doomed.

8) Normal people queue up for hours on every Apple retail store to get their hands on a new iPhone.

9) Apple sells a gazillion iPhones and no one from the press remembers a word of what was published during the last 3-4 months. The press changes its tune: the iPhone’s success is now obvious and anyone who didn’t see it coming is a moron.

10) Repeat ad nauseam.

So, with this in mind, I want to play a game. What would have happened if Apple had introduced this iPhone 5s back in 2007 instead of the original iPhone? To normal people, it would have been an obvious and monumental revolution, much like the original iPhone actually was. But to industry analysts and Steve Ballmer, nothing is ever enough. Let’s wonder what they may have had to say about the iPhone 5s:

  • “A Golden Mistake: why Apple’s iPhone will ultimately fail”

  • “One Hit Wonder? The iPod company fails to replicate its success with expensive new touch-based, fingerprint-reading phone”

  • “Abandon Ship: Apple’s foray into phone market doomed to failure”

  • “Ten reasons I won’t be buying an iPhone (and why you shouldn’t either)”

  • “A golden phone without a keyboard? Good luck with that”

And my personal favorite:

  • “No keyboard, no removable battery and no Flash: much-hyped Apple iPhone dead on arrival”.