Word from the street: The next iPhone better wow us

Word from the street: The next iPhone better wow us

Summary: The next iPhone is rumored to be announced in a few weeks and conversations with Apple's customers makes it clear it needs a big wow factor.

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Boring Apple
Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

AllThingsD has reported that the next iPhone may be announced on September 10, which fits with the expected timing for the launch. The next iPhone should be launched with the next version of iOS which has already been detailed by Apple. As usual, no details of the next iPhone have been shared by Apple, but through many conversations with owners of Apple's products it's clear there better be a wow factor.

I have been making a nuisance of myself for several months, approaching those in the city center I see using Apple gear to see what they think of it. Historically, it was common to hear gushing praise of the iPhone, iPad, or MacBook that's being used. That's not the case anymore as I'm regularly getting a different reaction from owners.

When I approach those using iPhones, I'm not usually hearing about how fantastic the owner finds the phone as I would in the past. More often than not I hear that the owner likes the iPhone but she/he is hoping the next model will be really cool. Not all of these owners are carrying the iPhone 5, either. I see a lot of iPhone 4s in peoples' hands. When asked why they often reply that the iPhone 5 isn't different enough to justify "wasting" an upgrade. They are waiting to see what the next iPhone has before they even consider upgrading.

I don't see unbridled enthusiasm over Apple products that was common in the past.

This is a very different reaction than I used to get in the past, as many I've approached were excited about the upcoming iPhone. That overwheming excitement over the years led to the image that Apple's customers will happily buy every product the company produces. That's not the impression I am getting now, which is surprising.

I get much the same attitude when I speak with iPad owners, either of the two models. Owners typically state they like the iPad or iPad mini, but without much enthusiasm. The iPad does what they want but they can't point out any feature or function that makes it wonderful. They like it but they aren't jumping up and down about it as they did when the iPad first appeared. More importantly, they aren't even thinking about the next generation iPad. I'm getting a distinct impression of a sense of acceptance that the iPad is what it is, without much enthusiasm about what it might be in the future.

This lukewarm reaction is distinctly different from what I've seen in the past. It's clear that most iPhone/iPad owners I approach find their gadget to be OK but that's about it. The unbridled enthusiasm over Apple products is strangely absent. It's as if these owners have come to the realization that it is what it is. Maybe future models will rekindle the fire, but then again maybe they won't.

I was surprised to find out that many iPhones I saw were doled out by employers. This wasn't the case of the majority by any means but more than I expected to see. 

There was also one young professional using an iPad mini in a coffee shop who was "given" it by her employer. They told her she could use it for anything she wished, both at home and at work, but that she had to give it back if she quit her job. It was kind of a Bring Our Own Device (BOOD) program, I guess.

This is not a scientific study by any means. My impressions are the result of speaking with many Apple product owners over the past few months. These owners are from all different age groups and professions, and included quite a few college students. I do believe these conversations represent a wide spectrum of Apple customers, and I've been surprised in the consistency of the reactions I've gotten in these many conversations.

My feelings towards my iPhone and iPads are much the same. I like them, they do what I need, but I feel they are getting long in the tooth. I wish there was a wow factor but it's missing.

One of the most recent conversations I had with an iPhone owner brought up an interesting point that may explain what's behind this lack of enthusiasm I'm regularly hearing. He admitted he's not very excited about the upcoming iPhone, and when I asked him why he had to think about it for a minute. What he said next may be behind what I'm seeing.

"Apple hasn't produced a single big product since Jobs passed. All of their current products are a legacy of the Jobs era. There's no indication that Apple can still innovate in a big way."

This guy isn't a techie nor anyone special, he is just a long-time customer of Apple's who admits his love for its products has dimmed. Even so, he went on to admit what most of the Apple customers have told me. He'll probably buy the next iPhone and maybe even the next iPad. The magic hasn't totally dimmed.

See related: 

Two keyboard cases for iPad mini from ZAGG change the game

Logitech Keyboard Folio mini for iPad mini: Small case, big keys (hands on)

Definitive guide to keyboards for iPad and iPad mini (Spring 2013)

Topics: Mobility, Apple, iOS, iPhone, iPad, Bring Your Own Device

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72 comments
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  • A FAD is what happens when there really is no compelling reason for it

    The FAD, like all fads is fading fast. Pinning your hope on the WOW factor, nuff said.
    greywolf7
    • I wouldn't necessarily call it a FAD as much as...

      Fulfilling a niche. The reality though is how much more real innovation can happen in the tablet/phone space in it's current form. I mean there are smaller innovations happening like the GSIV that looks at your eyes. But those are not any real monumental innovations that make people wait in a line.

      I actually am seeing more and more people bringing in iPads into meetings. It's something thats really easy to open a attachment, make notes on or respond to in a email. It's also perfect for just jotting down meeting notes. The other big device in meetings?? Airbooks(and one or two ultrabooks). The long battery life and nearly instant on is winning people over.
      Johnpford
      • The article describes a FAD

        Just helping you all recognize it is what it is, not that FAD items may not also have some underlying utility.
        greywolf7
      • More Innovation

        I think the obvious next innovation is the merging of all screens.

        No matter which screen you use, TV, desktop PC, tablet, Laptop, phone, glasses or watch, you can run an application on one screen and seamlessly transfer the application to another screen, ans switch inputs accordingly.

        Still need better head tracking to allow cursor navigation by tilting the head on a TV interface but that should happen soon.
        Sacr
        • Ubuntu

          Sounds a bit like what the Ubuntu Edge is offering, one device that can be connected to monitor or tv to get a pc system. They're one or two steps closer than any other company at the moment.
          Lee Pritchard
      • I used to see iPads in meetings....

        now they just bring their thinkpads as it is much easier/faster to type on. The novelty has worn off, and they realize how inefficient it is to try to shoehorn an iPad in to their work lives.
        kstap
    • Short attention span

      The misplaced idea Apple hasn't innovated since the first iPhone was introduced is as bizarre as it is fallacious.

      People who make irrational comments like this are displaying how jaded they have become, and that they have short term memories and short attention spans.

      Take a moment to compare the first iPhone in 2007 with the iPhone 5 introduced just 5 years later in 2012. There is a world of difference between the two... not just in looks, but in both hardware and software features and technologies! A person would have to be cognitively dysfunctional to not see any differences or advancements.

      And some people have impressions of Apple's rate of introducing ground-breaking new products that have nothing to do with reality. Apple has NEVER introduced new paradigm shifting products every year. If you calculate the average time between major product introductions (the first Mac, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad), it works out to about 7 years on average! The iPad was only introduced 3 years ago, so allow at least 4 more years before complaining that Apple isn't innovating fast enough for you.

      And if you have the irrational misperception that Apple doesn't innovate any more, you need to go through Apple's web site to introduce yourself to all of the recently introduced and upcoming hardware and software innovations. There is no other tech company (not Google, not Samsung, not Microsoft) that has the quantity and quality of real (not pie-in-the-sky ideas like self-driving cars, or computers you wear on your face) innovative products that Apple has currently and historically.
      Harvey Lubin
      • Other proving yourself wrong

        please, elaborate on the sparkling innovations that we're all too jaded to see. Go ahead, so far I can see, they changed the size of iphone, changed the size of the ipad, changed the shape of the Mac, changed the size of the airbook. Oh, you mean all those incremental improvements where they tried to catch up with the competition? Talk about deluded, you're the sort of person that if apple said they'd invented the istone, you'd be in a queue for 2 weeks just so you wave the istone around and show to everyone your love for a tech company. Keep up the good work, there's fewer and fewer of you itards out there so you're going to have double the RDF efforts.
        Little Old Man
        • LOM, Please learn how to read...

          ...and stop letting your toxic animosity for Apple iCloud your judgement. You're obviously not a fan or an Apple user so please go terrorize some other blog with your rhetoric.

          Consumer expectations for evolving technologies (not just Apple) is borderline psychotic on a good day, and the self-indulgent critics barking and parroting on any site that'll let them on, are tired too! The need/quest for a new cell phone (TOY) that does something revolutionary is kinda sad (Childish). I'm not an advocate against innovation, but get a grip...

          The original article, while containing some truths about Apple users' opinions of their devices, misses several valuable insights about evolving technologies. Harvey's response makes valid points about advances in the Apple products since their respective introductions without hyperbole. I work with and/or own Apple, Window and Android devices, and thought his comments were on the mark. There will be plateaus in technological advancement. Can we have constructive dialog about what we'd like to see without hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth?

          Many Apple users are rabid fans of the products and will camp out for the latest and greatest new thing to be released. I'm not sure how the anti-fans feels justified to rail so mightily against someone else's enthusiasm. Perhaps its jealousy or a self-loathing that makes one mock another for their choice of technology. The rhetoric can as bad than discussions of politics, religion, racism, and class-warfare.

          Little Old Man, hiding behind your anonymity, please find the cave with your mindless, rhetoric spewing brethren, and stay there...thank you!
          iDrummer
          • Hypocrisy

            "You're obviously not a fan or an Apple user so please go terrorize some other blog with your rhetoric."

            So you have to be an Apple fan to post on ZDNet in your world?


            "Consumer expectations for evolving technologies (not just Apple) is borderline psychotic on a good day, and the self-indulgent critics barking and parroting on any site that'll let them on, are tired too! The need/quest for a new cell phone (TOY) that does something revolutionary is kinda sad (Childish). I'm not an advocate against innovation, but get a grip..."

            I agree, I don't expect that Apple comes out with a phone that levitates and automatically flies to me when I call for it. It is a bit odd however that there really hasn't been much change in the overall design of the phone, a different size and shape, upgraded specs and whatnot is all great, but Siri has been the only major change and that was still in the Jobs era, maybe it's time for a fresh interface and new features that actually offer improvement instead of the Maps downgrade.


            "
            The original article, while containing some truths about Apple users' opinions of their devices, misses several valuable insights about evolving technologies. Harvey's response makes valid points about advances in the Apple products since their respective introductions without hyperbole. I work with and/or own Apple, Window and Android devices, and thought his comments were on the mark. There will be plateaus in technological advancement. "

            I think we all knew that Apple would have issues after Jobs, just on personality alone, because of how much he was an icon of the company. Still Cook hasn't helped himself with IPhone 5 at all to show that he has the vision of his predecessor and can deliver on the (over)excitement for the new products. I will also say, supply chain for Apple has been killer for 4S and 5, working in technology retail, many people were frustrated by frequent out of stocks. The funny thing though was when it was 4S, they waited, when it was 5 many more in my experience either went for the Galaxy S III or if they had a IPhone 4, they upgraded to 4S and saved some money.


            "Can we have constructive dialog about what we'd like to see without hand-wringing and gnashing of teeth?"

            I hope so, but by saying the following, you're not exactly helping

            "Perhaps its jealousy or a self-loathing that makes one mock another for their choice of technology. The rhetoric can as bad than discussions of politics, religion, racism, and class-warfare.

            Little Old Man, hiding behind your anonymity, please find the cave with your mindless, rhetoric spewing brethren, and stay there...thank you!"


            Hypocrisy much?!?
            JasonJD48
        • Angry Little Old Man

          Why does it bother you if someone likes an iPhone? Some people drive cars that I don't like but I don't go on the internet and flame about it. You sound kind of pathetic.
          Juno.az
      • Am i missing something???

        I've not seen any innovation from Apple in years, the os has the same look and feel as the first iPhone, with the new iOS7 which lets face it is just a reskin with a couple of androids basic features thrown in. When it comes to hardware, you are aware that Apple doesn't produce hardware?? Samsung has done some great innovation and apple is using their parts, but Apple gets the credit because the uneducated go on rants and convince other people that because it's got a half eaten apple on the back it must be amazing.

        The mobile arena is changing, fast, people will hold onto their current phone and claim it's the best for fear of realising they're not got the best product out. So sad! without some real innovation it's clear Apples gong down.

        Look at the new OS's around, windows is really really good, I'm an Android user and have been for years but windows phone is really upping their game. The one i'm waiting for at the moment though is the new Ubuntu phone, real innovation by the convergence of devices, great idea!

        Looking at the devices at the moment and where we will be in say what 5 years, Android will be diminished, iOS will have an even smaller share of the market and we'll go to windows and Ubuntu competing.

        Just before you scream iHater, this is an unbiased view from 20+ years of experience in technology.
        Lee Pritchard
    • Fad???????????

      Smartphones are a fad? What planet are you from?
      Juno.az
  • Um...no

    Yeah I'm pretty much calling BS on this. Especially coming from ZDNET.
    Rogifan
    • Same

      I see people who have iPhones all the time, and they all give it gushing praise.
      icyrock
    • hahaha

      This writer also has "gushed" in the past over Microsoft RT and Atom powered Microsoft hybrids, which he currently owns. We all know that those run like crap too....like paying 800$ for a netbook. I guess netbooks in a tablet form that run as terribly as netbooks must be completely amazing to him, but he has to post an article about how he "doesn't hear people gushing about Apple products, so Apple must not be innovative". This is more about a MS troll announcing Apple's death than any type of tech "news".

      Try using an Android device.....wait, the new one is faster.....oh, it "knows" when you look down at the end of the page and auto-scrolls...wait that doesn't work right either..... reviewers also slammed Samsung for not innovating beyond gimmicky tricks that didn't work. Face it, we are in a mature smartphone environment and crazy innovation isn't going to happen that fast. iOS 7 is a nice breathe of fresh air and people will be excited all over again to play with their phones when it comes out and works right. It's the biggest change to the UI since the iPhone came out and thankfully Apple is actually releasing it for 3 different generations of phones.....the 4S, 5 and 5S. How many other companies can do that, on all the cell providers, at the same time without waiting a year or two for them to approve it?? None. Take your MS trolling ways and write something worthwhile.
      Stormborn
  • Good point But...

    James has a quite good point here, but so far Apple is well over its competition. Period. Too bad, they're making devices you can buy with no worry, that can't be said on anyone else...
    AbrahamS_NY
    • No worry?

      You think Apple products don't have issues? Try searching around on the internet. They are no better/worse than any other tech company. The main difference is they charge a premium price while others do not.
      kstap
      • Maybe they have issues

        But when they do, Apple store service is great. Most of the time instead of sending it for fixing they just give you another one.

        I don't like iOS and don't have an iPhone, but I sometimes envy friends with iPhones for that kind of service.
        lepoete73
      • he must have bought the model with the RDF in it.

        I heard it's only in Beta, but seems to be working well on him.
        William Farrel