Is Apple rattled by Samsung? Let’s hope so
Defensive, prickly and occasionally flat-out disingenuous, Apple’s attempt to swing undecided buyers to the iPhone is great news. For Android users, it confirms that the long wait for an alternative mobile platform that you can bring home to your parents is almost over. Apple’s anti-Android potshots are an indication that Android has finally come of age for consumers.
That’s good news for everyone. If Apple now sees Android as a real threat, it will have to find ways to stop users drifting away. In the long run, Apple on the back foot should mean nicer, better-value products. In the short term it means snippy, linkbait anti-Android marketing barely worth the HTML it’s written on – but still, Apple’s rattled. That can only be a good thing.
The iPhone was the first phone I’d ever used that I really liked, rather than tolerated
I remember when I wrote the review for the original iPhone (adorably, it appears in the PC Pro website’s PDA category). It was 2007 and Apple’s wunderphone was, by some distance, the most interesting handset on the market. At the time I reviewed it, it was the first phone I’d ever used that I really liked, rather than tolerated. It wasn’t immediately obvious how big a shadow it would cast over the smartphone industry – there was no App Store yet, it (absurdly) didn’t offer 3G, and the 2-megapixel camera was low-res, even for the time – but it was, clearly, a step up from other phones, and light years beyond the slow-motion ferry crash that was Windows Mobile 6 and the joyless charisma vacuum that was BlackBerry.
How good was it? Well, the second paragraph – the second paragraph – of the review talks about the mute switch on the side of the phone. Not because I’m an easily amused simpleton, but because this blindingly obvious hardware feature was missing from virtually every other handset on the market. Before the iPhone, if your phone rang in the middle of a hushed theatre you’d be left furiously wrestling with a precise sequence of button-presses while a thousand annoyed people learned of your fondness for the Crazy Frog. The iPhone bristled with fresh ideas, from its brushed aluminium back to its iOS-powered soul.
Fast-forward six years and everything has changed. The iPhone might still be the most imitated handset there is, but the past few years have seen only incremental updates to the formula. That’s allowed Android-based manufacturers such as Samsung to catch up, through successive generations of increasingly persuasive and affordable alternatives. Android itself has evolved from flaky geek-chic to a dependable, usable operating system, winning hearts, minds and market share in the process. It’s no wonder Cupertino is worried.
Let the hardcore fans of both ecosystems have a go at each other – the rest of us can look forward to cheaper, better phones.