I think, six weeks after the release of the iPhone 5, it’s safe to say that the iTrend is disappearing as rapidly as that last fifty percent of iBattery life you were using to find your way home. The long way. Using Apple Maps. (OK. Two paragraphs in, and enough of the iJokes already. iPromise)
My fellow children of the Eighties– do you happen to remember the slow tumbling decline of the Apple Mac? Once upon a 1994, people hotly debated the subject– Mac, or PC? It was actually known to tear families asunder. But by about 2002, the debate was pretty much over. And the PC people had won.
This all feels a little bit like history, repeating. Forward thinking company introduces the technology to the masses, as base and user–friendly as you can make it (often to chorus of cat calls from the editorial pages, or, in this day and cyber-age, the Tumblrs). Said company then lulls about in it’s technological awesomeness while their competitor develops the original technology much further and puts all that mind–blowingly cool software into a much more durable, usable and accessorised firmware system. And at the same time, they take a lot of your market share.
At the beginning of 2011 (just After the sky fell in) I was at the height of the iCovet (*ahem*…sorry). Along with most of the country– in fact, most of the world. The iPhone 4 had just been released. It was brilliant. You didn’t go and ‘buy a new phone’– you bought an iPhone. If there were other brands on the market with comparable features, I had no idea what they were. Nor did I, or most other people, care.
And then along came Siri. The iPhone 4S was really just an iPhone 4 that made a big deal of it’s substandard voice recognition software. Siri was– and currently is, if you check the tiny fine print at the bottom of the page– in Beta format at the time of its release. For those of you who aren’t massive geeks, Beta basically means it was a program in developmental stages, still being added to and debugged, often using the data input from first generation users to improve its own functionality. There’s nothing wrong with releasing Beta software– the Google God does it all the time. But most companies don’t charge people hundreds of dollars for the privilege of testing buggy software. Nor do they spend millions on advertising something as ‘artificially intelligent’ when it has the same voice recog capabilities as the chunky Nokia Brick110* (*may not be actual handset model) I owned when I was at uni.
In light of the Siri (”Where can I dispose of a body/ get an abortion/ track my wife’s every move, Siri?”) fiasco, that all consuming iWant seemed to begin to wane. The problem was, initially, that there was nothing much else to convert to. If you didn’t like your iPhone… well. You just whined about it, really.
But times are, as they say, a’changing.
I happened to be at a product launch a day or two before the much–hyped release of the iPhone 5 in September. I made the same comment I’m making in this post, identifying that iBacklash that’s currently trailing just below the surface of the social stratosphere. “Apple need to do something really awesome with this one. Or it’s all over.”
A table of tech–geeks stared at me in shock, and I began to feel as though I’d just blasphemed or drowned a litter of kittens or used the ‘q’ word or something.
“We’re iPeople here, we love-”
“Oh, don’t get me wrong” I say, really not wanting to be wrong on this one, “so am I! I’ve got my iPhone, my iPad, my Apple TV box…”
“They’ll do something special with the 5,” smiles the Head Geek, “it’ll have some feature to blow us all away, always does!”
Three days later, and Steve Jobs is rolling cartwheels in his grave. The iPhone5 sported a longer screen for an extra row of apps. The front and back screens are now shatter proof. (Finally. After five freaking years.)
And as far as the actual hardware of the phone goes… that’s about the extent of the innovation, really. The release of the iOS6 software– available for download to all iPhone users with a model 3GS or later– became a laughing stock that shows no immediate signs of rectifying itself. I can tell you from frustrating, make-me-run-later-than-I-usually-do experience that Apple Maps kinda sucks. It managed to completely disregard the existence of Sydney’s X City Tunnel, and took me into the CBD via 1998. I’m not sure if that’s actually been fixed yet, because damned if I’m trying it again.
Among other massive iOS6 f*ck ups was the removal of the embedded YouTube app. YouTube, five years behind on app development arena because they’ve just never had to do it, is still temperamental and just too much damn effort for most of the casual, un–geekified iPeople I know.
The launch of the iPhone 5 and iOS6 indisputably marked the death knell for Apple smartphones. It completed what Siri woefully began. Apple consumers begin to feel like they were being played. That mid–nineties Mac vs PC switch had happened all over again- the technology released for the geeks just did not keep up with them. Treat smart people like idiots, and eventually– eventually– the herd will turn.
The basic premise of an iPhone is, essentially, that the handset purchased is just the latest hardware, and the software with which to run it is constantly updated and downloadable by the user. While the software– apart from the whole iOS6 thing– is generally pretty cool, and the App Store is kind of like a digital $2 shop where everything suddenly looks useful just because it’s so damn cheap; the Apple handset just does not compete with the Android models that are now available.
The iPhone can’t compete with tougher, more durable competitor’s models. Especially when they feature an infinitely improved battery life coupled with larger touch screens that can actually be used to augment the battery while they solar change themselves through ambient, indoor light. Not to mention cameras up to eight megapixels whose functions such as timers and filters are embedded, not additionally downloaded as apps; with little-to-no load time– most iPhone users know the frustration of waiting for your (almost at storage capacity) phone to open it’s annoying little camera shutter window, while the image of a lifetime slips away and becomes ordinary again.
I happened to be walking down a leafy, slightly littered suburban street a few weeks ago, not too long after the iPhone5′s release. Ambling two or three metres ahead was a woman of about my age. Both of us had earbuds in, headphones to block the incessant reality of the world and allow us to move to the beat of our own drums. Both sets of e
arbuds trailed long thin cords to our right hands, where we both held out music libraries within our smart phones.
She had an Android model. I, of course, had my iPhone.
And I felt ashamed (while noting my own First World arrogance). I wanted to put the bloody thing in my pocket so I could pretend that I had an Android, too. (Not that it’s possible to hide it well, what with my quintessential Apple dental floss cords giving me away.)
I tell my mate Bunny about it afterwards. “Shhhhh!!” he says to me suddenly (tripper). “Did you hear that…? That sound? That was the end. The death knell. It just reverberated from here, all over the world. Everyone on the planet just realized iPhones aren’t all that cool anymore.”
And we lament. It feels something like the end of an era.
Forget iJealousy. Henceforth, the condition shall be known as Andr–envy.
Because Andr–envy is a sad, sad thing and there really should be a national awareness day for it or something; Sony stepped in and was awesome and gave me one of their brand new Experia’s to play with. (Which made me all Andr–cited. Boom tish. I’m not even sure that one makes sense. Really, enough, I know. Sorry.)
For my fellow mothers of small, technology obsessed children- this is the phone for you. It has all the features and connectivity you want from a smart phone, with none of the wanker-ness. And don’t listen to what anyone says- Android apps are right up there with Apple apps, even if the store doesn’t feel as user-friendly at first.
For someone like me with a bad habit of smashing expensive technology type things (I’ve been through one iPhone and two iPad screens, plus the terrible state my laptop is currently in), the fact that this phone is virtually unsmashable is more than convienant. The Experia is also dust proof to tradie standards, and water proof for thirty minutes to one metre. That means, if your little angels happen to drop your phone into the toilet/ kitchen sink/ your cup of coffee, there will be no lasting damage if you fish it out. I think that also means it’s slobber proof (Maybe. My claim, not Sony’s). It also has a ’wet track’ screen. So upon retrieving your phone from fore-mentioned coffee cup/sink/toilet, you don’t even have to dry your hands– or the phone– before you use it. (Equally helpful for checking Twitter stream while watering garden. What…?)
All up, the Sony Experia rates a delicious four out of a possible five jellybeans on the RRSAHM Ranking Stuff Scale.
Bonus sugar is awarded because it is just so damn cheap– at $379, it’s much more affordable than most comparable phones. And tough enough that you won’t have to spend a further hundred bucks replacing the screen every six months or whenever your un-coordination takes grip on your ability to walk. One jellybean was eaten for the frustrating fact that the Experia actually doesn’t have a front facing camera, making duck–faced FB self–portraits again a complicated, intricate art form (why I thought that was necessarily a bad thing, not sure. But there you go.)
Find out more about the Sony Experia here.
To aid in the Eternal Fight For Goodness Against The Dreaded Condition Of Andr–Envy, Sony have given me an Experia to pass on to one of you lucky jellybeans. Winning is easy– tell me, using the form below– Have you heard the ringing of the iDeathKnell of late? What bought it to your attention? (Plain English, Lori’s–being–melodramatic explanation– are you over your iStuff? When exactly did that happen? Or are you still, quite firmly, an iPerson with no inclination to defect?)
The answer that I like best (the one that tickles my pickle, so to speak) for whatever reason I choose, is the winner.
Entries open Friday 12th November and close midnight (AEST) on Monday 19th November.
This one’s open to Australian residents only.
The winner will be announced via RRSAHM’s FaceBook page and Twitter feed, and probably in the newsletter as well. Winners will be emailed and have 48 hours to respond to that email with their postal address, or the prize will be redrawn. Comments must be accompanied by a valid email address in order to win. My decision is total and final and no bitching or discussion of any kind will be engaged in.