Oh no! My current iPhone might be 'good enough'
Michael Gartenberg has covered the personal technology beat for more than two decades at places like Gartner, Jupiter Research and Altimeter Group. Most recently, he spent a few years at Apple as Sr. Director of Worldwide Product Marketing.
Is this what it feels like to go mainstream?
I had the fun of working on some amazing product launches when I was at Apple. I don’t think I enjoyed any as much at the new Mac Pro debut in 2013. It was an amazing moment, Apple redefined expectations when it came to the power and design of desktop computing. And it came at a time when critics whined that Apple had lost all sense of innovation under Tim Cook.
Let’s move ahead to today. I’m not suggesting the Apple can’t innovate any more, that would be plain silly. The Mac line, however is aging, and we’re left to wonder when we’re going to see some updates — even ones that are evolutionary, not revolutionary. Intel has newer, faster chips available, after all.
iPhone, at least, we have a pattern to our evolutionary updates. Widely believed to be coming in September, as it has in previous years, the next iPhone has been the subject of much speculation. It’s said to lack a headphone jack, have a capacitive Home button, and a new dual camera system on the Plus version. Dubious screenshots aside, I also expect there’ll be a new processor that’s wicked fast.
But Mac or iPhone, here’s what I’m left wondering: Does faster matter any more?
Need for speed
I wonder if we’ve got a time in technology where Moore’s Law — effectively the steady increase in chipset performance — isn’t that relevant anymore. It’ll continue, of course. Chips will get faster. I just wonder if anyone really needs them to, at least for this moment in time.
I used to caution people who worked for me to not create research based personal habits. Me, in particular. Extrapolating my usage would make no sense — I’m the quintessential early adopter.
Except perhaps now. The sleeper hit of 2016 so far was the iPhone SE. Long time readers know I downgraded from my iPhone 6s Plus to an iPhone SE. Yep, it was a downgrade no matter how you look at it. In short, I didn’t care about the optically stabilized camera, bigger screen, or 3D Touch. I cared about form factor because the technology inside was good enough.
And you know what? The technology inside remains good enough. So much so, even the ultimate gadget geek in me is finding it hard to get excited about anything rumored so far for the next iPhone.
For the first time, in almost ten years, I’m wondering about upgrading to the next big thing. Sure, the new dual cameras sound cool, but I’m hesitant they’ll be good enough to pull me back to the 5.5-inch size. It feels like a deal breaker for me right now.
For anyone on an iPhone 4 or iPhone 5 class device, it’ll certainly be time for a refresh. But to an “older” technology like iPhone SE, or to the latest and the greatest?
Less is Moore
For me, I’m really happy with my iPhone SE, and it will take an awful lot to get me to upgrade. Maybe Apple will announce just that this September, or maybe they’ll announce it next year for the iPhone’s 10th anniversary. (We’ve been mulling that over on the Apple Talk podcast — which you should all be listening to, of course.)
Either way, I wonder if we’ve just hit a moment in time where Moore is just less. Where good enough is really good enough.
Wow. Is this what it feels like to be mainstream?