The iPhone 5 Disappoints
Tim Whibley posted on September 14, 2012 |

iPhone history

If you are feeling somewhat underwhelmed by the release of the iPhone 5 yesterday, you are not alone. I’m not sure what I was expecting to see from Apple; all I know is that I didn’t see it. It seems to me that the biggest changes are found in the upgraded processor (but isn’t it a given that every new generation of a device should include a processor enhancement?) and an increase in the vertical dimension. The rest of the release seemed limited to - dare I say - mundane enhancements.

What struck me most was what was missing in the release, rather than what was included. NFC was not mentioned in the announcement, and to me that could spell trouble ahead for NFC based mobile payments in general. NFC as a form of mobile payment has had a very slow rate of adoption in the U.S. so far. With Apple shunning the technology for now, retailers may be more cautious when it comes to investing in the terminals and infrastructure needed to make the technology ubiquitous. Samsung, Nokia, and other smartphones have adopted the technology as has Google, but will that be enough to convince retailers to jump on board? With so many different flavors of mobile payment schemes emerging right now, it’s difficult to predict which method will prevail.

Also absent from the release was inductive battery charging. Not that it’s a deal breaker, but big changes like that would have been welcome. Inductive charging is not new by any means; remember the Palm (now HP) Touchstone? Nokia revived this concept with their recently launched Lumina 820. Apple had an ideal opportunity to take this mature technology and make it cool and “new” again. Instead we got an image stabilized camera and noise cancelling microphones…yawn.

My initial thoughts after the iPhone 5 release is that Apple has shifted it into neutral for now and is going to coast along and collect profits on the brand name it has built up (reminiscent of Sony in the 90’s). Innovation and risk has taken a back seat to shareholder placation and safety.

What does excite me is that there may be a window of opportunity for another brand to step up and wow us. Right now I see the best hope for this to happen with Nokia and the Windows Phone 8 operating system. The hardware we’ve seen in the Lumina so far is top notch and really stands out. Nokia has an opportunity to turn its fortunes around and recover from the slide it has experienced over the past several years.

The operating platform Nokia has adopted has not been seen in its final form, as Windows has not finished the latest release of W8 mobile yet. But if W8 can provide functionality and is less confining than Apple's iOS (e.g. let us natively access files in our home network), combined with fresh hardware from Nokia, the smartphone field may open up to more than just Samsung and Apple, giving Android and iOS some much needed competition.

The reveal of the iPhone 5 by Tim Cook and company didn’t seem to provide a compelling reason for people to upgrade their existing phones for iPhone 5. Maybe Apple's strategy was to mop up the remaining 3G and 3Gs owners coming off of contract and that didn’t upgrade to the 4S last year. The proof will be in the sales. With the busy final quarter approaching, as always, consumers will have the final say.

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