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Apple’s “Big” iPhone 5C/5S Announcement Hits and Misses

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I’m so glad I dumped my Apple stock when it hit $600.00.

Don’t get me wrong.  I still think Apple makes killer products.  Nobody, but nobody, is better at basic industrial design and a rock-solid consumer ecosystems than Apple.  If you want the most elegantly designed, longest-lasting, most functional, personal computing tool on the market, the odds are it’s going to be an Apple product.

Every time someone asks me, “What should I buy?  A Mac or a PC?” my answer is easy.  If you want the most durable, easiest to use, best designed laptop on the planet, grab a Macbook Air.  Light.  Long battery life.  Blazingly fast.  Durable.  You’ll still be doing great work on it 7 years from now.  Spend more, enjoy more.

I can’t say the same for ANY other major PC manufacturer except Lenovo.  I’m in LOVE with my first-gen Lenovo Yoga 13.  (I’m typing this on it now.)  And from what I’ve seen of the Yoga 11s and the second gen Yoga 13, I think Lenovo has hit the sweet spot in the competitive laptop marketplace.  The Yoga line actually makes Windows 8 appear – dare I say it – usable.

I certainly can’t say the same for Windows 8 -vs- any variety of Mac OS/X after Leopard.  I’m STILL fighting my way through Windows 8 INSIPID approach to managing tiles and system settings.  Windows 8 represents so many steps backward from Windows 7 it’s hard to know where to start.  (A GENUINE START MENU WOULD BE A NICE START!)

OS/X on Mac, is simple, elegant, easy to use, easy to train, and rock-solid reliable.  Windows 8 on just about any hardware except for the Lenovo Yoga line is frustratingly split-personality (some things you do with tiles, some with the old desktop), it’s loaded with touch-gestures that don’t make sense, and it’s supported by an app market that can only be described with one word.

Craptacular.

If someone asks me, “Which tablet is better?  Android or Apple?” the answer is still simple.  iPad.  Hands down.  Yes, you can “theoretically” do more with an Android tablet, including setting up widgets and having better control over your home screens.  Nevertheless, unless you’re toting a Samsung Note with a Wacom stylus and multi-pane window control you’re not breaking any new ground with an Android tablet.  The iPad just works more fluidly.

BUT…

If someone asks me, “iPhone or Android,” it becomes more of a push.  Android phones these days just represent a better value proposition for the typical user.

For reasons that mystify me, Apple keeps innovating stuff that nobody is really asking for.  With the iPhone 5s, the big reveal highlighted THREE new features.  That’s it.  (Well…  Four if you count the flashback intro, the iPhone 5c.)

  • A better, more versatile camera.  Okay, turning the world into the next Annie Liebowitz is a nice thought, but…
  • A fingerprint-reading home button.  Again, a brilliant piece of technology, but it’s not like the world was clamoring for it.
  • Lightening-fasts computing speeds.  Please show someone who is seriously using the iPhone as a gaming device.
  • A plastic iPhone with old guts that you can buy for $99 on a two-year contract.  (BTW…  It’s not like this is innovation.  3G and 3GS anyone?)

What was missing from Apple’s intro?

  • New screen sizes.  No 5″ screen?  Really?
  • Removable MicroSDHC support.
  • An OS that actually lets people customize their app screen layout.  C’mon, Mr. Cook!  This is 2013 and you still don’t let people put widgets on their home screen?
  • You call those “cases” for the 5C?  Swiss cheese rubber sheaths in childish pastel colors?

You can argue – and some would say successfully – that the HTC One is the phone that Apple is chasing.  It sits more comfortably in the hand with its rounded back, has a more customizable OS, and introduced a better camera with larger pixels (hmmm…  something Apple introduced only today).

But there was something else missing from today’s announcement, and it hints at why Apple is starting to lose steam.

No iPad Mini refresh.  No Macbook Air refresh.  No hint of ANY convergence of the two technologies.

Huh?  Why am I focused on the iPad Mini and the Macbook Air?

Because I recently experienced the simplistic, go-anywhere beauty of the iPad Mini with the Zagg Folio Keys clamshell case and I realized just how much market share Apple is squandering by not cross the Air with the iPad!

The iPad Mini with the Zagg Folio Keys clamshell is darned near the perfect note-taking beast.  It’s a full-functioning iPad with a quite-usable keyboard crammed into an 8″ form factor.  Want to use just the tablet?  Pop it free.  Want to use the keyboard and type out a long press briefing in a pinch?  You can do it.  Want to cut a movie in a pinch with an HD-quality camera that produces pretty sick video?  You can do it.

Every upgrade they just put into the iPhone could have been – should have been – released with a Retina iPad Mini refresh.

And one of these days Apple is going to realize that there is a place in its pantheon of products for a Mini/Air crossover with some kind of detachable or foldover keyboard option.  Lenovo is kicking but with the touch-enabled Yoga and Apple still hasn’t released a product of its own with similar flexibility.

Do I like the iPhone 5s?  Would I consider buying one?

Let me answer that a different way.

I live every day with a Samsung Galaxy 3.  The screen is wider than the iPhone 5/5s and my eyes thank me every day for that choice.

On my home screen of my Galaxy 3 I have two widgets that run my day.  On a second home screen I have another widget that runs my day.  On the third home screen I have yet other widgets that let me run my day.  Weather up front.  Calendar on the home page.  Note taking apps one click away.  A web bookmarks panel.  Able to scroll left and right.  Cloud integration that works across every platform I own, including Microsoft Office, not just with Apple-specific software/hardware combos.

(You didn’t answer us, Steve.  Would you consider buying an iPhone 5s.)

Yes.  And I’d get one for my wife, too.  Because I still think iOS7 is an elegant, rock-solid OS.  The apps are high quality and the camera is “one of” the best on the market.  And I like iWork better than ANYTHING available on Android.

But if I bought an iPhone 5s I would have to hack it to make the rest of the blasted thing work the way I work.  And that just feels wrong.

Oh yeah, and I’d be jumping down in screen size, and I’m kind of spoiled by my Samsung Galaxy S3.  The Galaxy S4 is that much better.

Yep.  I’m glad I dumped my Apple stock.  They’re no longer the only game in town and their innovations are no longer “must have,” “one more thing” items.

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