Make-it-or-break-it times for Apple
Well, it is now Apple's turn to have reached that pivotal state. After turning the smartphone from a geeky gadget for suits and the IT crowd to a status symbol everyone craves, they hit a small, but revealing hurdle with the fourth generation of the iPhone. Pressed hard by the Android camp, they wanted to come with something truly innovative again, and the steel-and-glass iPhone 4 surely is a looker. Unfortunately, despite warnings from the outside and even their own engineers, they rushed the product to meet the “one iPhone per year” tradition, and, as a result, customers are now experiencing the infamous signal bars loss when holding the phone in a certain way.
After the bitter overreaction of people, and some initial denial on Apple's side, we are waiting on them to announce the solution that will calm everybody down. Consumer Reports magazine, the guys that bashed the iPhone 4 the other day for its reception issues, have now confirmed that the Apple's bumpers, which cost $29 a piece, can completely disperse with the problem, proven in official testing. The folks at Cupertino are holding a press conference today, after issuing an update to iOS 4 to developers the other day, so shortly all eyes will be on Apple.
People will try to determine if the company has lost a bit of luster, peaked, and become arrogant and complacent, or if it is the same innovative trend-setter we all know. If we recall correctly, for the first generation of iPhone, early adopters received $100 in-store credit if they had bought the phone at $599, before Apple cut the price to $399 a few weeks after. They were still young and foolish in the smartphone market, and weren't sure of the iPhone's success then, but customers really appreciated it. Will they do the same now that they are rolling in cash, considering that the iPhone already represents 40% of their sales?
Apple's maturity is put to the test these days, and it looks that the company has been focusing on expansion and development lately more than product testing. For its 34 years of existence, it has been buying less than a company a year. Now for a year it bought six. Google bought its way into the smartphone market when it purchased the startup company Android five years ago, and it's been a mobile success story ever since.
Apple bought Intrinsity – the guys that developed Samsung's Hummingbird chipset, to lock in the A4 architecture for the iPad and the iPhone. In a tit-for-tat purchase, Apple acquired the mobile advertising firm Quattro Wireless on the heels of Google buying AdMob. They also obtained the mobile application developer company Siri, Lala streaming music, mapping service Placebase, and just this week - Poly9 – a Canadian 3D world mapping startup.
All of these purchases clearly have one destination – Apple's mobile business. Google successfully walked the path from being simply the best search engine to the all-encompassing behemoth it is now via snapping up smaller startups with innovative ideas, which is as good a way as any. Apple is facing the stiff Android competition to its somewhat closed ecosystem, and seems to be doing the same. Now that they have surpassed Microsoft in market capitalization, it seems that they are coming out of adolescence and are poised to continue riding the tides of the American dream. The way they deal with the iPhone 4's technical glitches will probably be revealed at the press conference today, and we will certainly listen for signs they haven't changed from the company we know and appreciate. After all, still more than half of ChangeWave's survey respondents plan their smartphone purchase to be an Apple iPhone in the next few months, regardless of the antenna issues.
iPhone 4 Specifications | Review
sources: SFGate, Reuters, CIO