Apple Untucked: iPhone 5 and iPod Touch Announcement Lacks Luster

Call it too many rumors. Call it a maturing platform. You could probably call it a lot of things. But, the bottom line on the Apple announcements today is while Apple might roll out the usual (and now redundant) hyperbole about it’s latest and greatest I think there’s something missing. From where I’m sit we’re not seeing the magic, the mystery, or the mastery that we’re used to. In many ways, the visual fact (statement?)  that all of the speakers from the Apple Politburo had their shirts untucked hinted that Apple’s mastery might be showing some wear and tear around the middle that needs a little masking. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t object to untucked shirts, but the fact that I noticed it as I was watching several live blogs left me with the impression that the tried and true formulas aren’t working anymore. Can you say the same about the hardware and the software? I’ve got a nagging feeling that maybe we can.

A couple of points that I’d like to make here. Before I get there, all the younger whippersnappers on this site call me the old grumpy guy, and perhaps I am, but I’m not being grumpy here. These are just my observations and perceptions. But on to those points.

iphone-5_086It is more than curious that there was nothing really new about the iPhone 5 or iOS6 that we hadn’t already heard through the rumor mill. Is Apple slipping with its vaunted secrecy? It sure seems like it. And after the statements about leaks at the most recent earnings call, Apple is sure to take a hit from the fact that they obviously couldn’t control leaks and info about this iPhone 5 announcement. iOS 6 is another story, given that we’ve been hearing officially and unofficially about it for months now. That said, over the last several days the anticipation was that we’d hear something special and new today. We didn’t.

Second point. While I don’t think anyone was surprised that we didn’t get news about a rumored iPad Mini today, I am surprised about the iPod Touch news. While not on par feature for feature with the iPhone, the newest iPod Touch line is closer than we’ve seen in awhile with the iPhone. I’ve seen more than one tweet from folks who are saying that they will go with an iPod Touch and jettison the iPhone. Actually, I’m thinking the same thing, though I’m not sure yet. It makes looking at an Android phone more enticing though.

Third, while we expect Apple (and every manufacturer) to use lots of hyperbole in talking about new gadgets, I have to say, Apple’s use of hyperbole is becoming redundant, and almost comically so. Jonny Ive can only do this his same shtick so many times, knighthood or no. How many ways can you say thinnest and lightest? Parody makers are going to have a tougher time with things in the near future.

Fourth, while I get my viewing from watching several live blogs, I couldn’t help but feel that as the info rolled out, both the info and the coverage of it felt more like an obligation than something exciting and new. I got no sense that the bloggers doing the job were that excited about what they were covering.

Perhaps this is the maturing of a platform or just the realization that Apple can’t really take innovation on this particular platform too much further. If that’s the case, it is tough to keep making each new iteration more exciting than the last one. I can’t escape the feeling that we’re watching the same part of the life cycle that fills us with excitement when we get a new puppy, gives us some stability when that puppy starts to mature into a dog, and then sadly starts to face an older reality as the dog enters its last years. Or maybe its like a romance. Full of excitement and passion in the early days that inevitably fades once all parties get used to one another. Maybe we’re on the verge of finding out if the passion many have had for the iPhone can mature into a form of love with something older and wiser.

Don’t get me wrong. Apple has obviously done a lot of work on this new device and will sell a bunch of them. I wasn’t expecting any dramatic new redesign. Apple would have been foolish to do that. While I was expecting evolution rather than revolution, I hink what I’m missing here is a sense of evolution that doesn’t try to pull the wool over our eyes. For those who’ve never had an iPhone I’m sure there will be genuine excitement when they start using an iPhone 5. For those who’ve been around awhile, I’m guessing we’ll either love/like/appreciate the evolution of things, even though they are not revolutionary. I’m feeling like Apple hasn’t figured out how to mature along with its gadgets. All those untucked shirts might have looked and sounded good in theory in pre-planning, but in the end I feel like they are masking more than making a bold statement.