iOS 6 was recently unveiled, and it isn’t offering very many new or innovative features. Many ‘new’ features have been implemented from other OS’s (like sharing pictures from the picture app, or sending an excuse message after declining a call, Android has included those as stock features for years!). And the many other improvements aren’t much to get excited about either. Although they are solid improvements to a very popular operating system, they don’t offer anything much different from the last 5 iOS versions. I can’t help but wonder how many people are getting tired of the same-old, same-old, and might take a leap to say, the next version of Android (Jelly Bean), or Windows Phone 8, or even BlackBerry 10? All the platforms I just mentioned have a lot going for them. BlackBerry is re-envisioning its entire product line with a smart QNX multi-tasking operating systen and new devices, Microsoft is also making large changes; unifying its console, tablet, smartphone, and PC product lines with the brand new Windows 8 UI. Android 4.0 already offers compelling features and outsells iOS, and 4.1 was recently unveiled.
While the Windows Phone and BlackBerry platforms are having major overhauls, and Android already outsells the iPhone, Apple is continuing to make slight improvements to its (granted, very well established) product line. To me, the iPhone is already the least attractive platform to buy this fall, Windows Phone 8 and BlackBerry 10 are set to be huge improvements on their predecessors, and Android just keeps growing while Apple makes incremental small additions to iOS and calls them new operating system versions. Many of the updates Apple includes in its OS updates are more worthy of service packs or smaller updates than new OS releases. When you think about all the iOS versions, aside from a handful of new features from release to release, not very much has changed from IOS 1-6 (6 just recently announced).
Don’t misunderstand me, Apple is in no immediate danger from anyone. It is selling more phones than any other one hardware company and only the Android OS is ahead of iOS in numbers being sold (and that only because of the number of companies selling it). Apple’s products are on the top of many peoples wish list and demand keeps growing. Their attractive form and solid feature set ensure that the iPhone is at no risk from anyone and won’t be anytime soon. However, having said that, let’s take a look back a few years (let’s go back to 2008), and almost everything I just said in this paragraph was true of now declining smartphone maker BlackBerry. Their smartphones were in high-demand, having found wide-spread enterprise addoption and then become highly sought after as personal devices. BlackBerry’s were the phone, just as iPhones are now, that everyone wanted, and that were cool to own.
BlackBerry’s didn’t rise quite as high as the iPhone has today, but it is a very similar senario. As Android devices and the iPhone became more and more well adopted, and newly released BlackBerry devices were solid, but uninspiring small upgrades from their predecessors, many people left BlackBerry for the increasingly popular Android or iPhone. BlackBerry’s fall from favor as a personal device was due to its less than remarkable multimedia and internet capibilities – both of which Android and the iPhone were very good at – and its lack of innovation. Because, once BlackBerry had found an OS that worked well for them, they stuck to it until where they are today, in declining demand, and waiting for BlackBerry 10, its slick new QNX operating system to send them back into serious competition with Android, iOS, and now Windows Phone.
BlackBerry declined because of its lack of innovation, and although it offered great features, like its signature QWERTY keyboards, and awesome messaging capabilities, the competition offered far more compelling features and BlackBerry is now struggling to stay afloat until BB10, which is promising, but will have a hard road ahead of it to bring BlackBerry back to its former glory.
In the years since iOS was first released, not much has changed, although improvements have been made, by and large it is still little different from iOS 1. In the next iOS release (iOS 7), I’d like to see something new and innovative, perhaps even a few drastic changes. Because, with BlackBerry and Microsoft making huge changes in their OS’s and Google having just released Android 4.1 ‘Jelly Bean’, Apple isn’t changing much, and people may get tired of the same old, same old and try something new, like Windows Phone 8, Android 4.1 or BlackBerry 10, all of which are looking to be stellar mobile platforms. And, although there is no immediate danger, it would be a shame to see the same thing happen to the iPhone that happened to the BlackBerry product line.
*Update 1: BlackBerry 10 has been delayed until Quarter one (January-March) 2013 to ensure it is launched when it is ready, and before, as with the PlayBook. Read my article BlackBerry 10 – Postponed Until After Christmas for all the details.
*Update 2: Changed ‘Metro’ interface to ‘Wndows 8’, due to an official braning change from Microsoft, which is speculated to be due to a conflict with Metro UK.
*Update 3: At BlackBerry World Americas 2012, CEO Thorstein Heins unveiled much of BlackBerry 10 and ensured the world that BB10 is on track for its Q1 2013 launch. For the whole story, be sure to read my article on that.
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