iPhone 2013 = Blackberry 2009
Four years ago, the Blackberry was big. I mean really BIG. At least, it was to this loyal customer.
It didn't matter that, at the time, that the iPhone 3Gs had just come out during the summer with apps that the Blackberry could not possibly match. It didn't matter that there were phones out there that could be manipulated to do an incredibly random assortment of things, from playing Super Mario Bros. to simulating the sound of a shotgun being fired.
The Blackberry had that business-like image. It was the sophisticated phone to have. The image and reputation that Blackberry had established simply bought the company time to ward off competition that was clearly more progressive, but had yet to build up the brand loyalty that Blackberry had already amassed among smartphone users.
Blackberry was so popular and bound to have die-hard consumers who would stand by their products off the merit of, well, seniority.
Yesterday, when Apple took the stage, they did against the backdrop of growing competition. The iPhone is no longer the undisputed status quo. There are legitimate challenges being raised, particularly by the the Samsung Galaxy and, to an extent, the Nokia Lumia. But, like Blackberry before them, Apple bought more than enough breathing room by creating great products for the past five years.
Enough breathing room that they would get the benefit of the doubt: the opportunity to pitch a few more products to us before we really become disenchanted and learn to accept that they're on a downtrend.
After CEO Tim Cook and Senior Vice President of worldwide marker Phil Schiller unveiled the iPhone 5C and 5S, the general consensus seemed to be that the legacy of Steve Jobs in these latest products was underwhelming.
"The question has been asked repeatedly whether Jobs might have improved the product more, or changed it entirely," said USA Today's Douglas A. McIntyre. "No matter how that question gets answered, a smartphone with a little bit better camera, a little bit better processor and the kind of fingerprint security from a Batman movie did not impress."
McIntyre's qualms with the newest iPhones is simple to explain. They haven't made any real improvement; battery life wasn't improved and the fact that screens can still be cracked with ease, which ultimately costs consumers more money, wasn't addressed, while the flashy new lock mechanism of the phone was emphasized.
The new features that Apple's next line of products offers are the type that McIntyre says were made simply for new features' sake.
"One was created because Apple needed to keep a product cycle to sell new smartphones. The other was built to help Apple in China."
The last time a company was in a generally similar circumstance, the aforementioned Blackberry, offering superficial improvements as an answer to growing competition (remember the revolutionary track pad?), things didn't turn out so well.
According to comScore, Blackberry had a 43% share of the smartphone market pre-2009. In 2013, that share has dropped to less than 7%.
Apple, however, would seem immune to a similar fate. The company has built itself too strong of a reputation across myriad platforms. In fact, Apple might not even take a big hit at all if users feel as fulfilled as they have in the past, no matter what improvements were or were not made.
"Smartphones aren't all about internal specifications, and are much more about experiences, which is something Apple is very good at delivering," the Guardian's Samuel Gibbs reminds us.
But one things looks certain: The revolutionary steam that made the iPhone so groundbreaking in the first place is dwindling. Whether Apple still needs the same level of advancements to combat competition remains to be seen.
Photo credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images