In an Apple and Everything Else Funk

Lately I’ve been in a funk.  I thought, at first, it was an Apple funk.  I thought it might be about the fact that Apple today doesn’t seem to have the same excitement  and vision as it did under Steve Jobs.  I thought it might be about a sequence of products that is becoming very evolutionary instead of revolutionary.  I thought it was about Apple and where it might be heading.

But it’s more than that.  It’s about where the mobile industry as a whole is heading.  It’s about what kinds of things we think are important (and it’s not about the gadgets anymore).  It’s kind of a “sick of the whole mobile platform wars” funk.  Yeah – not good for a gadget guy.

Lately I find myself weary of reading about everyone suing everyone else.  I’m tired of hearing Apple fans say “Everyone is copying Apple”, and I’m tired of hearing detractors say “Apple stole everything they have”.  I’m tired of seeing early adopters beat down by the companies they supported (i.e Windows Phone 7 users and WebOS users), and I’m tired of people assuming that “biggest” means best. For example, people have said that Apple makes lots of money, so they must be the best,  or lots of Android (Samsung) phones are sold, so they must be the best.  Newsflash kiddies – McDonald’s sells a lot of hamburgers, but it doesn’t make them the best food in the world.

To paraphrase Wanda Sykes, I’m tired.  Sick and tired.

In “the old days” there were always platform wars and debates about what was best too.  But we debated specs, and features, and stability and the end-user experience.  Today, there is so much mis-information that we spend most of the time correcting ir before we can even talk about anything relevant.   We spend more time debating rumours than facts.  We spend more time speculating about what’s to come than we do worrying about what we have here and now.   We spend more time trying to “tear the other guy down” than we do espousing the virtues of our favorites.  And it’s wrong.

Apple devices sell well because they are well-built and well thought out, not because their purchasers are lemmings.  Android devices sell well because they are cost-effective and flexible,  not because their buyers are only looking at cost and don’t know any better.  Windows Phone devices, although not perfect, offer some interesting innovations.  People don’t buy them just because some guy in the store talked them into it.   We have to stop arguing using labels and stereotypes to make meaningless points.  We have to get back to honest discussion and get away from trying to “score points on the enemy”.

I don’t want to hear anymore about the Apple/Samsung lawsuit.  I don’t want to hear who had the “first” device of its type out there.  I don’t want to hear why Samsung leaked evidence when the judge put a ban on it.  I don’t want to hear how Apples’s “purple” prototype proves they were innovative.  I don’t care who is banning what device in what country and whose patents are invalid where and why it’s all supposed to matter, because it doesn’t.  It’s all irrelevant.  It’s all noise.  And it seems it’s all anyone reports on anymore.

I want to get back to the gadgets and the things that make people excited about them.  I want to get back to talking about the specs and why they are relevant or not based on the end-user experience.  I want to get back to talking about how visual design IS important because people carry their devices almost as fashion accessories these days. I want tech bloggers to start remembering that they do NOT represent most people, and they do not have the same needs as most people.

But more than anything else, I want to be excited about my devices again.  The iPhone 5 is coming soon, and I find that I don’t currently have the enthusiasm for it that I once had.  Windows Phone 8 is coming soon, and I find I’m still angry at Microsoft for how they handed and treated Windows Phone 7 users (and Windows Mobile 6.5 users for that matter).   Samsung is outselling everyone with their current model, and all I can think is “meh”.  Google FINALLY releases a version of the Android OS (4.1 Jellybean) that is usable and not laggy, and I’m still not excited.

I want to get to a place where the innovations are exciting and worth discussing.  I want to get back to a place where we discuss those things and not the legal and business shenanigans of those who bring us those devices.  I want the magic back.

I’m still enthused about many things in this industry, but the mobile wars – I’m over them. I surrender.   Now, let’s go for a McDonald’s hamburger….

Categories: Editorials

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7 replies

  1. I’ll take a Quarter-Pounder with cheese, please…

    Well written article, Chris. I totally agree with your assessment. Mobile tech reporting does indeed feel more the realm of corporate boardroom discussions and investor talk, of commoditization rather than innovation.

    • Agreed- well written and raises some great issues. In part I think some of the issue comes from iOS becoming a mature platform. That means less “OMG this is amazing” and more evolution. But the legal stuff and patents and the non-stop rumors… yawn.

  2. I have also had quite enough of the rehashed Mac vs. PC wars going on where tech nerds bring out their macho by putting each other down. Yawn!
    And Samsung vs. Apple – GIMME A BREAK! Each of these companies are mega-billion $ corporations – and they are each the other’s #1 supplier/customer. And they have millions of people on the sidelines getting all worked up as if there is some personal interest, or as if the outcome will impact them personally.
    On the other hand, I do applaud the move to a more utilitarian view of smartphones. It means we are hitting the point where pricing will become sensible, and where we can really put all of this technology to work.


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