the art of making one’s self dissappear…
Over the last week, there has been an unprecidented amount of analysis about ‘smartphones’. I have never seen SO much coverage on the topic before, even when the term was first used all those years ago, it was only a blip on the tech landscape. So what has happened? Why now, after all this time is the media jumping up and down about smartphones? Have a guess….
Yes. I know. It’s a biggy.
Apple has loaded the concept of the smartphone into the public conciousness. Things will never be the same again in ‘smartphone world’. What was once the domain of geeks, business geeks, and err..other geeks has become suddenly socially acceptible, almost ‘cool’. But only if you will get an Apple iPhone. All other smartphones have been relegated to the dustbin of history. Outdated industrial design. Poor interfaces etc. So how did Apple pull this off? Its simple if, like me, you have followed Apple’s history. Apple are masters of many things, two of which are design (industrial AND UI) and more importantly…they KNOW what people want. Plus they know how to whip up a marketing/publicity storm like something no other tech company has ever seen. As soon as the iPhone was unveiled at Macworld expo, the instant I saw it, I knew that the smartphone world would change forever. It comes as no surprise (to me) to see that Apple had been working on, and thinking about this for years. I always knew it was only a matter of time before we saw what had been going on inside Apple HQ, behind closed doors. I think that this device is more of a symbol than anything else Apple has done in years, maybe a decade. That was confirmed to me by the removal of the word ‘Computer’ from Apple’s name. You see, the thing is, computers are becoming obsolete as an entity unto themselves. And its high time that this happened. Computers will slowly dissappear into the background of devices, and the way you interact with the device will be the main focal point. Apple knows this, and now wants to distance themselves from this outdated concept. Its amazing that we still use desktop computers, with mechanical qwerty keyboards, and a mouse as a virtual 2D pointing device. Hey! this is 2007!!! I thought when I was a kid that by this time, we would have robots in every home, flying cars, even a 4-seater model of the Sinclair C5!! What happened?? Was I lied to? Yep.
What Apple has done with this device is show the world that there IS another way of interaction, like the intuitive multi-touch interface (although I had seen Jeff Han’s demo of his multi-touch interface around October last year, and it still blows me away). What Apple is trying to do is make a tangible, tactile device that feels natural in its actions. and thus, create a kind of emotional response from the user. Which in turn ‘bonds’ the user to the device. Which is great news for Apple, as I think when this device actually comes out, and people have used it for a while, they will never go back to any other smartphone again. Because in a romantic sense, Apple have just dragged us a little bit further into the ‘future’ than any other smartphone manufacturer, and that makes us feel somewhat ‘advanced’ without having to be a complete geek. There is a great article from Momus on the Wired website about this ’emotional response’ Apple generates whenever it does something great. This is where it is hard to measure Apple’s power over its users. Of course, there will be a backlash (its started already!) but in my opinion, this is from people who just don’t understand the ideology of Apple, and there is an ideology…So for example, we already have smartphone users beating-down the iPhone for its specs (me included), but what THEY don’t seem to realise is that although on paper it doesn’t measure up to the current top of the range smartphones from the likes of Nokia, SE etc, Apple doesn’t care because they know that the moment you try out the iPhone you will forget specs (to a large degree) and realise that you have embarked on a one-way street to Lustville. just like the iPod before, this was not the first mp3 player, but it shaped the whole portable audio market due to its industrial design, tactile interface, and most importantly EASE OF USE/INTEGRATION. Everyone thinks Apple did something underhand to get so popular. NOPE. Apple was just another computer company back in the day, but understood perfectly the power of design (again industrial and UI). They became the biggest because they understood what real people want. Beauty, Simplicity. This is why Apple will again (eventually) become one of the biggest, if not THE biggest smartphone manufacturers within the next couple of years. This will happen. Its happened already. Have you not seen the news???