Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Apple iPhone 5 - The Maps Debacle

I've been sitting back and watching the Apple iPhone 5 release unfold with some interest.  It's kinda been the first really major release from Apple since the great Steve Jobs left this world and, personally, I was hoping for something that was actually a bit of a departure from the stock expectation.

Did Apple disappoint?  In some ways yes, in others no.  iPhone 5 saw an increase in screen size, a removal of the glass back and a slight change in the UI layout (if adding a row of icons can be described as a change in UI).  It also saw them take another step away from the shared Apple/Google ecosystem by removing the GMaps from the core OS as part of the iOS6 update.  The other major change was with the connector but that was in many ways expected.

Just briefly on the form factor change.  Really it was about time.  iPhone when placed next to any other high end smartphone looks like a poor cousin in terms of screen size and I'd have to say that the added real estate  has to be the most welcome change.  Getting rid of the glass back was something of a necessity as I suspect that the expense incurred by Apple through smashed chassis had to have hurt.  It also means that the phone can be a little lighter and a little thinner.  Headphone socket at the bottom... meh, I think you might find that there is an added reason for this with docks since the analog audio function has been removed from the dock connector but then it might just be because that's the only place they could fit it in.

Changing the dock connecter from the standard 30 pin to their new 'Lightning' connecter strikes me as a pessimistic and ultimately exploitive move essentially there to generate more income.  There is nothing (yet) that the connector does that a Micro USB connector can't do and, from a customer perspective, it means that everyone is going to buy a whole stack of new peripherals.  The Lightning connecter has an 'advantage' in that it can be inserted any way thus removing the frustration of trying to jam your socket in the wrong way.  What they seem to miss is that the Micro USB plug actually has a large 'B' on one side of it which means that you should be able to tell which way is the right way just by touch.  The other thing of note is that the Lightning connecter has electronics built into it that will make duplicating the cables a slightly pricier prospect and unfortunately for the consumer it means that it will be a long time before we can buy the $5 versions off eBay etc.  Once again Apple is treating their customers like money bags...

Other than a processor update and some other very small OS tweaks, the main thing that has been rearing it's head amongst the media has been the exclusion of Google Maps from iOS6.  Apple still has a year left on their contract with Google Maps and so had no financial reason to exclude it from the iOS6 release so we can safely assume that it is part of their greater roadmap to remove any form of reliance from their nearest competitor.  After dredging up some of the interweb scuttlebut I've discovered that their inhouse mapping App was shoehorned into the iOS6 release with a matter of weeks left and it seemed to have undergone the bare minimum of field testing.

I don't know about anyone else, but mapping plays a major role in my mobile experience.  I rely on it almost every single day and I take great comfort in knowing that if I get myself lost, I have a very powerful mapping tool to get me back on track.  I would go so far as to say that the mapping and navigation functionality of my mobile is the single most important application that it has, closely followed by its music capability and then email/messaging and finally as a phone.  For Apple to have pushed this out with such a small, apparent, amount of field testing shows a lack of foresight.  Apple are in a place where they are vulnerable to being shot down for the smallest failure.  With Steve Jobs gone, the tech world is waiting for Tim Cook to go to pieces and for Apple to follow.

An old boss of mine made a very astute call once.  He said "perception is reality".  This is very true, regardless of whether the mapping functionality of the iPhone 5 is actually any good or not, the media and those that are not enveloped in Apples 'reality bubble' are just waiting for any excuse to shoot them down and they gleefully lept on the mapping failure as ammunition.  To add to the fun, Tim Cook has issued a subsequent apology to the lack of apparent quality of the app and suggested using one of the other competitors apps in place - that being either Nokia or Microsofts Bing Maps.  What Apple has done is allowed for the perception of their product to be tarnished.  Jobs had a flare for dressing up his releases with a charismatic delivery of pomp and glitter that was swallowed up whole heartedly by the media and Apple fans alike.  Tim Cook has not maintained that, the smoke and mirrors have cleared and suddenly the flawless gem is a vat grown knock off with a big crack down the middle.

Apple are in a 'Tall Poppy' situation currently and they have handed the media and the Apple haters a massive chunk of ammunition to 'cut them down'.  Personally I've got no real problem with this because Apple set themselves up to be the elite in a seriously underhanded way through patent litigation and sometimes when you build a reputation on falsehoods and smoke and mirrors it comes back to bite you in the ass.  I don't like the way Apple do business.  I don't like the fact that they've just handed the world's landfills a huge array of old dock devices and I especially don't like the fact that they keep releasing the same device over and over with the only major changes being to take away functionality.  Yeah... I don't like Apple a whole lot.  I'm more interested, these days, in what Windows Mobile is coming up with but for now I'll stick with the environment that doesn't treat me like a slightly retarded purse...

No comments:

Post a Comment