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iPhone 4S

I got the play-by-play on the first non-Steve product release. First part of the presentation was how they had caught up to Android. Jobs never would have done that. Trying to edge other products and play “me-too, only better” was what Apple did during the Gil Amelio days, and it didn’t work out too well for them.

The improvements in the camera are welcome, and I think they are going in the right direction with the speech technology. I don’t really give a crap about being able to speak searches, or have a device take dictation, but being able to set and review appointments via voice, or to get updates on weather and traffic via voice would be a great help.

Apple is very proud of Lion. Initially I didn’t think Lion was too bad, but it’s a horrible release. It’s buggy as hell, and Safari is now full of quirks and bugs, whereas it was one of the cleanest browsers out there.

I will probably get an iPhone 4S, but only because I currently still have a 3G (not even the 3GS) with a screen that has streaks of failed pixels all through it. But I worry Apple is headed back down the road to being “me too, only better” while chasing everyone else instead of really innovating.

Perhaps history will repeat itself a bit here. After Apple release the Macintosh (which was truly innovative in the same way iOS was, in that Apple stole/bought the technology from Xerox/Fingerworks), quickly had the technology stolen by competitors (Microsoft/Google), Steve was booted/left for health reasons, leaving Apple to slowly wither as their competitors killed their market share as Apple lost ground in the gadget race.

Only this time it could be worse. Windows 3.0 was a piss poor knockoff of MacOS. Up until Windows NT 4.0, Microsoft arguably had a product that was inferior on nearly every way, and despite the flaws of MacOS at the time, I still largely preferred it to NT 4.0’s user interface. Android is a stellar implementation of the ideas originally pioneered by Fingerworks, and later bought by Apple. Google is also a lot smarter than Microsoft. Apple is going to have to impress people better than they did yesterday if they want to hold on to their market share, which means the iPhone 5 is going to have to introduce something very new.

UPDATE: Speaking of the early Windows NT reminds me, nothing is really all that new, even in technology. It’s kind of like guns in that regard. Microsoft produced NT by snatching away all the top operating system developers from Digital Equipment Corporation. Because of that, it’s long been believed that Windows NT (now just called Windows) still retains an awful lot of VMS-like constructs, and that its internals are very similar to VMS. MacOS is really just a candied up version of NeXTStep, that was developed by all the same people who were brought in when Apple bought NeXT. And even NeXT was just a mach microkernel with parts of BSD Unix grafted on.

10 Responses to “iPhone 4S”

  1. wfgodbold says:

    Lion has pretty much ruined my late 2007 model MBP. It hangs all the time, even when nothing is running, and takes longer to boot.

    I’ll probably upgrade my 3G iphone to a 4S, but the announcement was pretty underwhelming.

  2. David says:

    The only thing to save the iPhone is releasing the iOS to other hardware vendors. I like iOS, but my iPhone sucks as a phone. It drops calls, the speaker phone is worthless, and I can barely hear anyone on calls. Just as the Microsoft model won out on the desktop, Android will win out on the mobile devices.

    Also the Apple GUI of the late 80’s was a knock off of what PARC had built in the 70’s and was essentially built by PARC researchers who were on loan to Apple.

  3. Freiheit says:

    I’m thinking of upgrading my wife from a slider “featurephone” to a 3GS mostly since they’re free on contract. Being a generation behind won’t help you look cool, but it does save money…

  4. Sebastian says:

    Apple has never done well when it’s tried to do things like sell its products to hardware clone makers. That comes with a whole host of problems and headaches.

    I hear you about the speakerphone, at least on the iPhone 3G. Hopefully they’ve improved that. The dropped calls is probably more AT&T than the iPhone. Having used AT&T at my last company, it does that with every phone because their network sucks.

  5. JR says:

    Well, since the only thing I was interested in was the iPod Touch possibly getting 3G or other major improvements, and we got a white case and iOS 5 installed by default… BLAH.

    I bought a black 4th gen Touch apparently refurbed by Apple through an Amazon marketplace distributor with 100% good reviews, many referencing the refurbs, over the past year. Since my restore files are all from iOS 4 I figure it’s better to restore to that first, then do the free 5 upgrade afterward. I may slap a 1-year SquareTrade warranty on it just in case. The 3-year warranty on new models seems like a waste, considering the extreme care I treat all my stuff with, and the upgrade cycles.

  6. Sigivald says:

    David: Yeah, System 6 sure looks ultra-similar to Star or Alto, doesn’t it?

    (Admittedly, at least X with twm looks different, but mainly because it sucks even worse.)

    Well, okay, in that they’re all monochrome windowing systems. There’s a certain similarity. But… a “knock off”, “built by PARC engineers”?

    It’s Not That Simple, though nobody can deny a significant PARC influence.

    (After all, nobody else had done a GUI of any sort!)

    But the idea that they more or less just “knocked off” the Star GUI doesn’t hold up to scrutiny; they had to invent a lot of things themselves.

    (And “The only thing to save the iPhone is releasing the iOS to other hardware vendors”?

    Odd, considering how well it sells. It doesn’t seem to need “saving”.

    And why would Apple do that in any case? To dilute their exceedingly popular brand with crappy copies made with the cheapest commodity hardware?

    Nobody wins there.)

  7. “The only thing to save the iPhone is releasing the iOS to other hardware vendors.”

    No it won’t. Apple’s big advantage has always been using hardware configuration control to reduce their developmental overhead. Apple’s stuff just works because they only have to implement on a very limited hardware set compared to a competitor like Android which is on everything under the sun.

    Also, the iPhone comes out on a two year release cycle. Release year one is the major hardware release. Year two is the incremental hardware upgrade with boosts to processor speed, memory, software, etc. We’re in year two. Two years ago it was the 3gs “replacing” the 3g. If next year is another incremental, then they’re in trouble.

    I’m currently using a dumb phone and will probably go with something like the LG Optimus V. I’ve had several people sing it’s praises to me.

  8. Sebastian says:

    No it won’t. Apple’s big advantage has always been using hardware configuration control to reduce their developmental overhead. Apple’s stuff just works because they only have to implement on a very limited hardware set compared to a competitor like Android which is on everything under the sun.

    That’s the main headache… though if you follow the Hackintosh community at all, MacOS will run on a stunningly large number of PC motherboards.

  9. Justin Buist says:

    I sorta give Apple a pass on OS X being the next release of NeXTStep considering NeXT’s CEO was Jobs.

  10. Ian Argent says:

    No Apple fan, I, but I think that Apple is better off innovating on closed hardware than chasing the commodity buyers.

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