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Apple’s New iDud..?

By Gerald McGrew on September 26, 2012 in Other

Photo: Matt Yohe

It’s been a long time since I had a rant about the iPhone, so with the impending arrival of the iPhone 5 the timing couldn’t be better. The current model is the venerable iPhone 4, and it’s over two years old now. Much like the entire hipster phenomenon, it’s well and truly time for a ‘totes amazeballs’ new one.

Yet the leaked spy pictures of the iPhone 5 have been underwhelming. It looks basically the same as the one that everyone already owns. A slightly bigger screen, a slightly thinner body, a metal back plate, a better camera… and that’s about it. No game-changers here; more ‘meh’ than ‘must have’. Somewhat tellingly, rather than joining in the usual Apple pre-release frothing, the tech media crowd have been practically standoffish. They’re acting like a drunken Swedish supermodel farted in a lift with them – appearing highly conflicted and with no idea what to do next.

Even worse, the diehard Apple fans have been fidgeting nervously at what could be a difficult phone to defend to the hordes of Android-toting commoners and usurpers. For the first time we’re hearing that perhaps Samsung, with its spiffy new Galaxy smartphone, has the measure of Apple. And in a delicious twist of hipster irony, this is the same Samsung that is busy suing Apple in one country while simultaneously cuddling up with it in another.

However, what might mark the beginning of the end of Apple’s iPhone dominance is the strong rumour that they’re changing the connector used to charge and dock the phone. This would mean that every iGadget you own – chargers, car cradles, iPod speakers and the rest – would in theory need to be replaced. If it’s true, this is arrogance and/or idiocy on a stunning scale.

For a long time Apple has made a mint by making tiny improvements to each new iPhone and letting the fans lap it up. The first couple of iPhones couldn’t copy and paste text; a Nokia from 1956 could. Asking people to buy new accessories might be taking the piss too much, even for Apple. Of course, many millions of the new iPhone will still be sold, and many millions of dollars will be spent on cheap Chinese-made adaptors that allow the new iPhone to work with old accessories.

That’s all beside the point. It’s neither innovative nor clever to frig your customers around. Just ask a bank or an airline. And attempting to do so when a competitor is snapping at your heels – or perhaps even catching up – might show how much Apple is missing the drive, guidance and sheer competitive bastardry of Mr Jobs.

So is it time to write off Apple? I doubt it. It’s a massive business, and massively profitable. I said to buy Apple stock in mid-2010 – it’s more than doubled since. The iPad still rules the tablet roost, which is where the mainstream future of computing is heading. And in a classic Apple move, it’ll likely offset the disappointment of the new but boring iPhone 5 by launching something very familiar, yet slightly different.

It will be the iPhone Maxi, also known as the iPad Mini. And I know what many of you are thinking…