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The Curious Case Of The iPhone 5

What the iPhone 5 needed was ONE thing to make it completely stand out. Maybe in the iPhone 5S? Rajiv Makhni writes...
Hindustan Times | By Rajiv Makhni
UPDATED ON SEP 22, 2012 04:49 PM IST
Let’s set a few ground rules before I start this week’s column.

1. I am not an Apple hater (in fact I have said this publicly – that they are the best technology curators in the world).

2. All this blind brand fan following and behaving like brats and overreacting every time you hear one small thing against your favourite company is getting a little immature.

3. It’s time to pit real technology against real technology and leave emotions, sentimentality and jaundiced prejudice out of the equation.

Now that we’ve set the ground rules – let’s hit the main story.

An unfamiliar situation
Unless you were living under a rock or were in a coma, you would know that the iPhone 5 has been announced. But for the first time ever, Apple released an iPhone into a market that was very different from before. Competition is at its highest, other brands are selling in huge numbers, and the iPhone 4S sales numbers took a small hit in the last few months. Now merge that with the fact that the iPhone business contributes more than half of Apple’s revenue and the majority of its profits. Add to it that this would be more or less the first real product without Steve Jobs’ fingerprints on it. The iPhone 5 announcement was a watershed event for Apple. It needed to dazzle, it needed to shock, it needed to get jaws to drop (hard!).

Did it?
It didn’t! Don’t get me wrong. The iPhone 5 is a great phone. It ticks everything it needs to. It’s thinner, it’s lighter, it’s got a faster processor, it’s got a bigger screen, it’s improved its optical capabilities, it’s got a future-ready new connector, it takes Siri to the next level, it’s got super fast LTE (Long Term Evolution), it’s got a new unibody design, it’s got better battery life – what it doesn’t have is a killer feature. This is a problem Apple has created for itself. When Apple announces a product – expectations are sky high – we expect Apple to do an Apple on us. To come up with one out-of-the box feature that makes the whole world go – ‘wow, why didn’t we think of that!’ And that’s where the iPhone 5 didn’t deliver.

Head to Head
Let’s compare the iPhone with what I think are its closest rivals and see where it stands. (refer to chart below).
As you can see from the chart, the iPhone 5 holds up well to the competition. But within that feel-good statement lies the problem.

GalaxyA good problem?

I predict that the Apple will sell more iPhone 5s in the next three months than any phone has ever sold on the planet. So, since when is that a problem? It’s a problem when we can only say that for quarter one and two. iPhone 4S did prove that great competition and fantastic new phones can significantly dent the impregnable iPhone sales numbers too. The iPhone 5 with good (but no killer) features needs to last a FULL 12 months. With almost 15 new supersmartphones coming out in the next three months – this could be a very bumpy ride for this sixth generation mobile device from Apple. The missing charge

What the iPhone 5 needed was ONE thing to make it completely stand out. For me, that would have been wireless charging. That is the future of charging and in Apple’s hands – the solution would have been elegant, simple and would just work. That would have forced every single manufacturer across the world to bring in wireless charging as a standard and our lives would have changed forever.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Maybe in the iPhone 5S?

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3. Follow Rajiv on Twitter at

From HT Brunch, September 23

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