On Monday BlackBerry's CEO Thorsten Heins stated that Apple was risking being left behind in the smartphone business because its flagship iPhone hadn't been significantly redesigned in five years. In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday he was blunter by stating that "a lack of innovation at Apple has left the iPhone's user interface outdated." Thorsten's comments about Apple's iPhone have come at time when BlackBerry is promoting their all-new smartphone lineup with their revised OS and sexier interface. Thorsten had earlier stated that "the rate of innovation is so high in our industry that if you don't innovate at that speed you can be replaced pretty quickly." That wasn't said from simple blind sarcasm but rather from experience as Apple's iPhone eventually overtook the Blackberry back in 2008, though at times BlackBerry jostled with the iPhone for second position in the race for Mobile Device leadership. But no one has suffered more in the mobile space recently than Nokia who was once the king of mobile phones. As the chart illustrates below, Nokia has fallen from grace to the fourth spot in 2012 mobile phone sales. So it's no wonder why Nokia's CEO has decided to now throw his hat into the ring and take a big swipe at Apple's iPhone.
News out of Finland this morning captured Nokia's CEO Stephen Elop taking a swipe at Apple. The report states that during an interview on Finnish television, "Elop was asked questions about Nokia's rumoured device Lumia 928. The interviewer told him that he owns an iPhone 5, to which the former Nokia CEO responded, "How embarrassing!"
As the interviewer said that he wanted to replace his iPhone 5 with a Lumia 928, Elop took the Apple smartphone and threw it on the ground and then promised to exchange it for a new Lumia phone."
While the print version of this news-bite sounded very dramatic, the video version of it presented below actually shows that the incident was just PR shtick that every CEO engages in, including Apple's CEO Tim Cook.
Although it was typical rivalry banter that we could expect from time to time, it's the trend that's making the headlines because it's focused on Apple's rivals framing iOS as stale, outdated and now embarrassing.
Apple has certainly been feeling the heat lately, especially in light of Samsung's Galaxy 4S smartphone that debuted last week. Yet before the event went live, Phil Schiller decided to take a swipe at Samsung. Last Wednesday, Schiller made comment to the Wall Street Journal that Android phones aren't as good because they cobble together a variety of different products.
"When you take an Android device out of the box, you have to sign up to nine accounts with different vendors to get the experience iOS comes with," Schiller said. "They don't work seamlessly together."
In context, Schiller was simply returning the favor. Samsung had aired a TV ad laughing at the iPhone 5 two days prior to the officially release of the smartphone on September 21, 2012. In hindsight Apple should have aired a humorous TV ad themselves along the lines of their famous "I'm a Mac and I'm a PC" line of ads that were so effective at getting under the skin of Windows Fans. Humor is always better at spreading a message than a grumpy interview. Hopefully Apple will reinvent that TV ad series but refocused on their smartphone rivals.
Yet with that being said, Apple is in fact feeling the heat as a leak to the Wall Street Journal let it be known that Jony Ive is working on a revised look for iOS that may take a flatter design. One example of "flatter design" is the one found on Microsoft's Metro-Styled user interface. The timing of this information was by no means a coincidence.
With the firing of Scott Forstall, some have said that it may take Apple until 2014 to get their new iOS refresh out to market and that's an eternity in this race which will allow their rivals to hammer that message home every quarter until it arrives. Though for the time being, one must never forget that Apple's iPhone is still king.
But you don't have to be a critic to know that Apple's iOS is aging. Weeks before the headlines ever hit the wire, Patently Apple posted a report asking the question, "Is it Time for an iOS Facelift?" In that report I stated that According to Apple's intellectual property, they've been experimenting with a 3D version of iOS and toying with spiral concepts for iDevices or wearable computers such as an iWatch. And yet the simple idea of customizing my iDevice's Home Screen appeals to me more." Yes, a flatter design is what I was pointing to.
Yet in the end, the trend of Apple's competitors stepping up their attack on the iPhones' aging user interface was somewhat expected and BlackBerry's CEO simply took advantage of the timing of their new Z10 smartphone to hammer that home. These attacks are bound to continue until Apple finally updates their user interface which I think the vast majority of Apple fans will appreciate.
Who can forget that it was Apple who reinvented the smartphone with their disruptive iPhone in 2007? Only fools. And when Apple finally updates the iPhone's user interface we can expect it to rock the mobile world once again. But let's not kid ourselves, that kind of pressure is only going to raise expectations to a fever pitch and the end result could be explosive, one way or another.
For now, I can hear Apple fans around the world saying "Come on Jony, it's time for Apple's Crazy Ones to step up to the plate and hit another home run out of the park." And I couldn't agree more.
If you have a comment on this, I'd love to hear it.