By Gery L. Deer
As Apple releases details on the next iPhone (number 7), some changes in the product have met with mixed reviews. The main point of contention is Apple’s decision to do away with the headphone jack, partly in an effort to waterproof the device, a fault that users have complained about for years. But another obvious reason was to force consumers to purchase expensive Bluetooth, wireless ear buds.
Whatever the purpose, major changes in technology have always given pause. As consumers, we hate change. We like what we like and it needs to remain as we remember it. The white, wired headphones have been a symbol of the Apple device culture since the iPod burst on the scene in 2001.
A natural progression from the success Sony experienced in the 1980s with the Walkman, the iPod kept Apple from bankruptcy and ushered in a new era of personal technology. The times change and technology changes with it.
Just to make the point, let’s not forget that earlier this year, the last VCR rolled off the assembly line and into the history books.
Technological innovation is driven by a host of influencers, from government research to the demands of the consumer. A company like Apple has great pressure on it to be innovative but can’t always hit the mark. The Apple Watch is a good example of this kind of fluid change in consumer following.
When it debuted, the wearable tech was going to revolutionize how we use smart phones, monitor our health and more. But even now, it has underperformed in almost every way, especially in sales. Either the public wasn’t ready for it, or the device wasn’t robust enough for the consumer.
Of course, Apple has tried to respond to complaints regarding the watch, issuing updates and several changes to the next model, but it may be too little too late. Or, it’s entirely possible, the gadget just isn’t going to fly, and that happens sometimes.
In the 80s, the Commodore 64 and the Apple II were the pinnacle of home technology, offering games, word processing and the first glimpses into what we now know as social media. Today, a smarter phone and thinner tablet seem to be the highest demand consumer technology, with better Internet connection and more apps being the selling points.
So where are things headed next? That’s a good question and every major tech company in the world would pay big bucks to whoever could tell them. But, barring a psychic hotline with a beam into the future of the next iPhone or Kindle Fire, it’s a coin toss.
While innovation is the goal, the consumer is a fickle mistress. Developers always proceed with a best guess combination of “this is what would be great tech,” “since they like this, they should like that,” and “let’s just build it and see what happens.” There’s really no way to tell.
During my days in tech, I worked in the programming side, watching companies like CompuServe and AOL amass the fortunes of Midas and then sliding down the hill of obsolescence in a relatively short period of time. But, here’s my educated guess, in case you’re wondering.
Television is still king of advertising and, to capitalize more on that, it will become more mobile soon as well, allowing you to watch live TV over your cell phone with a digital receiver transmitted via your wireless carrier. Wireless cellular companies are going to have to step up their game, in both speed and bandwidth.
I work with a lot of Apple products in my career, but I think that the iPhone is about to be dethroned as the hippest, coolest thing on the market. Partly because the iPhone 7 really has no major innovations and the cost seems to keep going up. That said, every device manufacturer must stay ahead of the game with better operating systems and app availability.
My forecasts here could be totally off the mark. But, whatever happens, it’s in everyone’s best interest to keep up with the times. There are endless possibilities, but you need to have patience and be open-minded about change.
Gery L. Deer is an independent columnist and business writer. Deer In Headlines is distributed by GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. More at www.gerydeer.com.