Monday, January 16, 2012

Why Apple is bad for the Mobile Industry

If you read this blog or follow me on Twitter then you will know that I am no fan of Apple.
I do not buy into the myth that they are interested in what the consumer wants but rather feel that they are very good at marketing compared to their peers.

The current focus on lets make everything a slim as possible is not a benefit but rather an obsession in controlling component manufacturers and in doing so setting prices. Why is Apple's management of the supply chain OK and Tesco's controlling of farmers wrong when they are both the same thing?

Recently I have been using my old Ericsson T68i and the ergonomics of the phone makes it a joy to hold and use. More importantly put the handset down on a surface and the rubber back means that it does not slide around. OK I am use the T68i as a PHONE and so was interested in calling and SMS rather than web based apps but then I was working rather than looking to fill dead time.

Because of Apple's lead as the trend setter other makers of Smartphones are all attempting to make handsets that look and function in the same way as an iPhone. I had hoped that design at Nokia had not been sacrificed on the "burning deck" of re-engineering the Firm undertaken by Steve Elop but unfortunately they seemed to have lost all their corporate intelligence. Nokia Engineering had grown too big but at one time they had people who were concerned by the response a user got when pushing a button and attempted to make the experience better.

What concern does Apple have for the user? I fear that it is more akin to IKEA than Georg Jensen. After a while as consumers learn more about how to use products that they own they understand the failings of low cost mass design and production and are willing to pay more for a better experience. Yet what improvement do we see with the iPhone in terms of industrial design?

If Jonathan Ive is a Design Hero then he needs to demonstrate such by following the actions of Dieter Rams rather than just mouthing kind words about his ability. Rams with Vitsoe and Braun was capable of designing products that function on a higher level than Apple has ever done. If you want to learn more then get yourself a copy of As Little Design As Possible.

Others are starting to realise that Apple's business practices are bad for the sector as a whole they do not seem to be in the UK or US but rather Germany and France where the company has a smaller impact as a whole. I have long been a advocate of the fact that most people do not seek to converge to a single device but rather are happy to carry a number of them. Sit on public transport and you can watch people switching between phone, MP3, e-reader, tablet rather than using a single device. Apple has benefitted from this divergence getting people to buy iPhone, iPod, iPad yet when it comes to the phone they offer one single device in terms of form factor.

If I want to create something then a touch screen device does not make it easy. Yes I know David Hockney makes art on his iPad but he also uses a Hasselblad and very large canvases and paint for his large public works. A keyboard with good design allows faster typing than I can do on an iPad even if that is a simple one such as on my T68i let alone a QWERTY design.

Then how about Apple giving a screen that is better in bright light that is also capable of falling three feet without breaking? My observation of others on Public Transport usually allows me to spot two or three broken iPhone screens. I do not see any broken Sony Ericsson, Samsung, HTC, Blackberry or Nokia screens.

If an iPhone is about wonderful User Interface design the can't I expect more of a physical interface than a single button?

1 comment:

Gus said...


I am no apple fan and I agree with you regarding the design part. However what you should also remember, is that Apple was made big by the users: iTunes for iPod and the AppStore for iPads and iPhone where you can reach out for zillions of apps, brought the success for the company. These apps were created mostly by users. Apple simply realized that content is the king and ad long as they can motivate their users to create useful app for each other... well they will stay afloat.