Updates from QA Training

Evolution vs. Revolution

The iPhone5 was released yesterday and the world seemed to be, in the main, nonplussed. What does that say of us as consumers of technology that something as astounding has become so...normal?

David Walker | 13 September 2012

The iPhone5 was released yesterday and the world seemed to be, in the main, nonplussed. What does that say of us as consumers of technology that something as astounding has become so...normal?

I've been with the iPhone since the 3G model and loved it as a platform and a device but recently I've been starting to grow bored of her rounded corners and well worn home button and I want you to feel my ennui!

Each year I have tuned into the iPhone will schoolboy glee and burning techitment. The 3G! oooooh the 3GS!  A compass!! The 4! Wow how awesome. The 4S! Ummm Siri? (I don't want to talk to my phone I saw that episode of the big bang theory where Raj fell in love with her) . The 5…

Well the 5? Its fast, it crisp it has new maps (Apple and Google don't talk any more). It sort of failed to grab me.  Yet it should grab me! It is an evolutionary product, for with painstaking love Apple have designed a brilliant device. It keeps the iDevice look and evolves. It adds those extra inches to the height of the handset, a reason I will expound upon shortly. Yet somehow it failed to create the excitement you would have expected but that is evolution.

A few years ago the iPhone was a revolution tumbling Nokia, Samsung and Blackberry from their golden thrones and changing computing forever. The iPhone mattered a lot and love or hate Apple without them we may still be texting on a number pad (that's how Google saw the future).

From the brink Apple, the ultimate (and struggling) hipster company became the gods of the new mobile revolution. The reason the iPhone, the 3 and the original 4 were so ground-breaking was that there was ground to break, share to be grabbed.

The question I keeping is should Apple try to recapture that ground? The answer is, probably not. Google regularly release activation figures for Android devices. These are nothing more than smoke and mirrors to be honest as many of these devices, like the entry level smartphone I got for my father this Christmas. Will not and cannot ever be upgraded. This is a real issue for my colleague Clive Dark who has been looking after the Android space. OS and device fragmentation is the bane of the Android world.

This leaves your average Android developer in a bit of a quandary. Are they going to try and get the majority of the marketplace and go for Android 2.1 for example or take the punt that those people on the £60 smart phones are not regular app buyers?  Very few developers want to develop for out of date the folks, so those Android figures are a little distorted and the ROI on dev time for these different versions is a complex balancing act.

Over its lifetime Apple have tried to do something different, where possible iOS is easily backwards compatible to older devices. As iOS6 goes to pre-release we see some iPods and the original iPad move out of support but even the 3GS is able to support this new upgrade. Apple have always tried to maintain a scenario that when a iOS product is in production Apple will try to support it.

Now, this is not to say that the Apple model is perfect, in fact we are starting to see a very different issue, feature fragmentation. iPhone4s and 5 will support a new mapping software and both support Siri as a key feature difference even most iPhones can run iOS6. This offers a different decision for developers on whether they need these new features to do something exceptional and new.

Yet this no man gets left behind is Apple's greatest strength. The iPhone line as now become a refinement and enhancement of a brilliant environment. Apple has spent the last decade becoming the 'everything just works' cool, must have brand. They did it so well that to be a revolutionary device again risks damaging their platform, developer community and alienate their user base. They already have the premium consumer market who else do they need? Is there anyone else who should be worried?

Nintendo and Sony is who. I mentioned those extra inches at the end of the new iPhone5 screen and those lovely metal bumpers top and tailing its new case. Turn it sideways and you have the market Apple want next. Lovely grips, ergonomically located, a little extra space left and right for the controls without sacrificing screen real estate.  Apple want the casual and hand held gaming market and they are gunning for them big time with the new iPhone.

It was one of the most dominant parts of the new message and that's the space to look into next gang. When it comes down to it Objective C is a wrapper around C and C is massively powerful and for many gaming companies the language of choice. Porting is a no brainers.

HTML5 Canvas is now really starting to come into its own with new API's for animation arriving all the time. Rich Internet Applications using HTML5 is now a reality (as a brief note QA will be launching a course on creating RIA with HTML5 towards the end of the year).

So if Apple can't evolve, Google seem happy to emulate and tinker at the edges where does the revolution come from? Blackberry? Some state the new version of the OS is going to bring them back from the brink. I think they are having some sort of strange fever dreams. Blackberry is in a great deal of trouble. 

Here is why - Blackberry 10 is not going to integrate with previous versions. As a result the enterprise market that rely upon it are in a situation where they need to engage in a serious upgrade path. At that point a company should be looking around and considering the competition as well as the upgrade. At that point will Windows mobile with its Office and Exchange integration offer a solution that was not there previously. If the rest of your corporate network runs off Windows why shouldn't your mobile platform?

P.S. If you are a premium executive brand selling your handsets to kids is not a good way to protect it.

That's the question that keeps me awake at night trying to figure out where the new Windows 8 platform will go and (thanks for reading folks) this journey ends. Windows 8 is revolutionary not evolutionary because Microsoft, and their premium partner Nokia, have to be. I watched the Nokia launch last week as well and technical issues aside I had techcitment when I saw the 920. I have been embedded in windows 8 for the last month and love it. The question is can Microsoft convince developers to pick up the platform and run with it? A question, and a serious of solutions I will answer in my next blog!

(Oh and if anyone can help me decide if I want a 920 or iPhone5 let me know!)


David Walker

Portfolio Director - Digital Transformation and Emerging Technology

David is a change-driven technologist who works closely with organisations and industry experts to understand the opportunities and threats posed by new technology. David has designed multiple learning solutions that have helped organisations redefine their business strategy and culture – creating new business models that view IT as a strategic competency rather than a support function.
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