I have spent most of this year questioning just how smart a phone is an iPhone. In my opinion it is neither smart or a phone. Its success can be put down to the fact that Apple have managed to create a massive buzz around it. A mixture of celebrity endorsement alongside massive advertising campaigns has made the device wanted by the public but does that make it a good phone?
To my mind the problem with the iPhone is that the App Store has failed to maintain innovation and the refresh of a new OS which saw Steve Jobs push facetime ™ as the new way to communicate show that Apple has grown tired. The Company seems to be pushing development in the area of the App Store with the focus on the iPad and Apple TV rather than making significant progress with phones. If I were a shareholder of Apple stock I would be asking when can we expect to see a similar diversity in form factor for phones as we see in iPods? What is the company doing to improve the quality of phone calls?
I accept that in some markets the iPhone has been very successful. However the same was true of Motorola with a number of handsets and look at them now. I am sure that for some the fact that you see so many with an iPhone has taken the luster off the product. A number of those I know who are currently using an iPhone 4 acknowledge that they have two-three old iPhones at home having upgraded as each new machine is released. Yes I know that the same can be said for Blackberry Users or Nokia fans but the buzz around them is not as loud.
Ask Motorola about how fast the consumer can turn and you will be told that the abandonment can be faster than the celebrity status of a contestant in Big Brother. I think that Apple will play a significant part in the mobile device market for quite some time. I do not think that the product will be a phone however. As consumers we tend not to converge on a single device but rather diverge. As consumers become more knowledgeable about costs and experiences they also demand more. The novelty of the App has long past for most of us and so we are looking at the utility of our devices.
The combination of living in the Cloud and the iPad means that I can now work without my MacBook Pro for most client engagements. Thus I carry a device that allows a better user experience than an iPhone when it comes to watching video, reading books/papers or casual web surfing. As I become someone who carries multiple mobile devices rather than have a mobile subscription for each I have bought a mifi dongle for those times when wifi is not available free of charge (my ISP gives me free access to hotspots as part of my service.)
So will Apple surprise us with an iPhone Nano; will we see HD Voice available on the iPhone 5 or will the iPhone become a museum exhibit? I think that Apple are focused on the revenue streams from the iTunes store and thus we may never see an iPhone7 as the exit the phone business.