We really didn’t want to have to write this article. We wanted the iPhone 5 launch to be great, and for there to be the same magic there always had been. There wasn’t.
Yesterday Mashable asked whether this would be the last great Apple launch. The answer, as it turned out was a resounding no. It was actually the first really bad Apple launch since Steve Jobs died. Here’s why.
1. The leaks
Seriously, the lead up to this launch was leakier than a rusty sieve. If the tech press had wanted to get a jump on the iPhone 5 launch, they could’ve taken the best from all their rumour pieces and whittled it down from there.
As the man behind the now defunct ‘Fake Steve’ blog Dan Lyons noted, Steve Jobs would probably have been furious at the number of leaks prior to the launch: “I imagine Steve is not happy. First of all, he’d be furious about the leaks. Steve liked surprising people”.
Without that sense of mystery, the iPhone 5 launch event was pretty much a non-event.
2. The new iPod Nano
Anyone who’s only seen the official press pics for the new Nano might find this a little odd. It looks pretty cool right?
But take a look at a hands on with it. It’s hideous. That’s without even getting to the round icons. Round icons? How un-Apple is that? One colleague was physically revolted by it. “The longer I look at it, the angrier I get,” he said “I mean I actually feel insulted.”
Still, at least it comes in more colours than black, sorry charcoal grey.
3. The phone itself
Um, it’s a little bit longer. Really Apple? You spent months in court fighting Samsung and portraying yourself as the world’s only truly innovative company and this is the best you can do? A phone that looks like what would happen if phones were capable of inbreeding?
Once again Lyons puts it best:
Now, having had two years to plot and scheme, Apple’s renowned designer Jonathan Ive has replaced the tiny 3.5in (8.9cm) screen with a slightly-less-tiny 4in (10.2cm) screen? Wow. Knock me over with a feather. What do you do with the rest of your time, Jony?
Author and professor at NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program Clay Shirky told The Atlantic that the iPhone 5 “is the apotheosis of this device we would call a phone.”
Porsche designers are more daring, and they’ve been making the same car for 50 years.
4. The presentation
Steve Jobs was a great presenter and one who managed to improve with every new launch. Admittedly that’s a tough act to follow. Still, comparisons are inevitable. Jobs drew the audience in, and made them feel as if he was talking to each of them as individuals. Sure the members of the Apple team that presented yesterday tried pretty hard, but you could’ve replaced them with the head of any other tech giant and not noticed the difference.
The low-point however, was the decision to have Tim Cook kick of the presentation by showing off Apple’s new flagship store in Barcelona. We were all watching for the tech, not a lecture on retail architecture.
That’s about as far as you can get from the skydivers, BMXers and abseilers at Google’s Glass demo.
5. Panorama and the death of real innovation
Given the amount of time Apple spent harping on about the joys of Panorama, which um…lets you take panoramic photos, it’s probably best that it neglected to mention that Android users have been able to do so for years now. The same goes for the new iOS 6 feature that lets you send an SMS to tell people you’re busy. I’m pretty sure I was able to do that on a feature phone I had five years ago.
Even if these features were original, they’re not really innovative. Ultimately they’re gimmicks that won’t change the way we look at smartphones. They’re the anti-climax to what, until now, has been one of the most riveting tech stories ever told.
It’s a little bit sad when you think about it. Apple will still do incredibly well. Its products will sell in massive numbers, but unless something very drastic happens they won’t have that sense of magic.