Post iPhone ergo propter iPhone
"Post hoc ergo propter hoc" is Latin for "after it, therefore because of it". That it comes from Latin should indicate how far back that particular fallacy can be traced. Yet ever since Apple launched the original iPhone in 2007, it has been the point of comparison for every flagship phone, from every manufacturer, on every carrier. Just like "post hoc ergo propter hoc" isn't always -- or even often -- true, "post iPhone ergo propter iPhone" isn't always true. Yet time after time, phone after phone, everything from hardware design to software features are taken as derived from, or as being a response to, the iPhone.
There's a theory in combat that dates back to Sun Tsu, if not earlier, called "strike first to gain the initiative". If, in a fight, all you do is defend, you'll eventually make a mistake and get tagged. Even if you're a natural counter-puncher, if you don't take an opportunity when it opens up, at best you'll stall your way to stalemate (and get booed for your efforts), and at worst you'll mess up at some point and get clobbered. That's why a good fighter knows everything is an attack. Everything is an attempt to turn an opponent's mind away from acting and towards reacting.
It can be obvious -- a strike or shoot or something else an opponent has to deal with. Or it can be subtle -- a change of angle or distance that rocks them back on their heels or shoulders and messes with their balance and timing.
Those same essential strategic truths apply to the ancient battlefield, the modern Octagon, and business -- including the smartphone business.
In 2007 Apple didn't introduce a better Treo or BlackBerry, they introduced a better device. They didn't take a tiny little step that entrenched competitors could quickly match. They took a diagonal leap that entrenched competitors either couldn't quickly match, or didn't even understand. They changed the rules of the game. They attacked.
It didn't matter that the 2007 iPhone lacked apps or copy/paste or unobtrusive notifications or MMS or any of a dozen features existing smartphone has on their neat little checklists. It mattered only that multitouch, and the way the iPhone interface leveraged it to make a new experience, was so compelling no one cared what it was missing.
That was an attack.
The shift was so radical that for years after, every other flagship, or would be flagship phone was pitched by desperate competitors and attention-seeking media alike as an "iPhone killer". (Early among them, the Samsung Instinct -- a coincidence, I'm certain.) That the iPhone made every headline, that every device was cast not as something unique unto itself but as something wholly dependent on the gravity well of the iPhone, was the punchline. (No true iPhone killer would ever be called that -- everyone would be too busy talking about it to bother mentioning the iPhone.)
And since then, no one else has done much attacking. Hell, most of Apple's competitors ignored or derided the iPhone at launch. Smartly, Google didn't. They spun on a dime and turned their new Android acquisition from a BlackBerry or Windows Phone Standard (or Nokia Communicator, if you lived in Europe) competitor to an iPhone competitor almost over night.
Yet Apple didn't react. They didn't rush to match any Android features that the iPhone was missing or toss in a hardware keyboard to win over legacy smartphone users. They changed the rules again. They acted again. They attacked again. They announced the App Store.
Palm got back into the game sooner than the other traditional smartphone vendors. But when they made the leap from Palm OS to webOS it was far more audacious than Android. (That tiny, cash-starved Palm literally coded circles around mighty Google, and made a more Google-esque product than Google itself, should be scrawled in permanent marker atop the dessert-laden garden in Mountain View so as to never be forgotten.) While elements of the Palm Pre were inarguably iPhone inspired -- having the former head of Apple hardware, Jon Rubenstein, as their CEO and a lot of Apple engineers on their team will do that -- they played a smart strategy. Rather than matching iPhone features, they tried to hit Apple where Apple was weak -- multitasking, notifications, unified messaging. And unlike the early days of Android, they did it in an elegant, tasteful way.
RIM floundered with the Storm. And the Storm 2. And the Torch. Microsoft stumbled with Windows Mobile 6. And Windows Mobile 6.5. Still, other platforms started adding their own centralized software stores. Android Market (now Google Play), Nokia Ovi Store (no, really), webOS App Catalog BlackBerry App World. By and large, like Palm with the Pre, they tried to differentiate themselves by going where they thought Apple was weak -- openness. It turned out, however, that openness didn't translate into a better user experience. Having great apps and being able to take credit cards in large amount of global markets were far more important. (The "iTunes advantage" was the platform equivalent of having seized the high ground before the battle ever begun.)
Sadly, Palm never made webOS work well enough, fast enough, to catch on before they were brutally bought and betrayed by HP corporate intrigue and ineptitude. Android, however, got some body shots in. The Nexus One was smartly timed to the hit the market right in the middle of Apple's typical year-long product cycle. With great hardware, an improved OS, and features like voice control, it caught influencers at the perfect moment and got a lot of attention. The Droid, meanwhile, seized on the huge, Verizon-sized hole Apple left in its flank by being locked to AT&T in the U.S. for 4 long years. (The Evo did similar on Sprint, and I'm sure something did on T-Mobile as well...)
Apple's limited carrier footprint couldn't stop Android from gaining incredible non-AT&T marketshare, but the iPhone remained a strong enough device that it not only held its own ground with but one flagship a year, on one carrier in the U.S., but kept on growing it.
And then Apple changed the rules again. They acted again. They attacked again. They released the iPad.
It was a tablet launched in 2010 that didn't (and still doesn't) have a desktop or windowing system, that didn't (but now does) have multitasking for 3rd party apps. Like the iPhone in 2007, it didn't matter that the iPad didn't have nearly as much as the decade of Tablet PCs before it. It utterly obliterated and obsoleted its predecessors before it even shipped.
Again, Google reacted. They spun on a dime and rushed out (a still closed-source version of Android), Honeycomb, to compete in the tablet space. Absent the carrier opening it had with the iPhone, however, and left to their own devices, Android tablets haven't caught on. Nor did the incredibly iPad-like Palm TouchPad hardware, even with it's arguably still more elegant multitasking, notification, and messaging software. Nor did the BlackBerry PlayBook, similarly rushed to market without even a chance to put its email on.
Microsoft, meanwhile, finally got Windows Phone off the ground. Unlike Palm, however, they didn't target the iPhone where it was weak. They copied the weaknesses the iPhone had at launch. Weaknesses Apple, for the most part, had long since addressed -- no multitasking, no copy and paste, and an app store that needed to be filled from scratch. The design was new, much to Microsoft's credit. It wasn't the same old app launcher and swapping panels. That part Microsoft absolutely nailed. But taken as a whole, great new design with fundamental flaws in functionality (not to mention branding), it wasn't enough to slow the iPhone's momentum. The same interface gambit that gave Apple its smartphone mindshare in 2007 just wasn't repeatable in 2011. At least not by Windows Phone. (Maybe one of those transparent aluminum jobbies from Avatar or Iron Man could have made that shot...)
BlackBerry is now trying to get back into the game, some 5 years later, with BlackBerry 10. Based on QNX it will offer realtime capabilities and the most promiscuous development story in the smartphone space. The PlayBook, like Honeycomb, shipped before it was fully baked. RIM seems prepared to take their time with BlackBerry 10. We'll have to wait see how that works out for them.
Until then, one essential truth remains indisputable -- Apple, who wasn't even in the smartphone or tablet business before 2006 -- has controlled the pacing of both industries since the moment ever since. While they've given up a step or two, while they've been cut and bloodied a little at times, for the most part they've stood at the center of the ring, cut off the angles, and forced everyone else to circle and fight Apple's fight going on 5 rounds now.
And if the Galaxy S III event is any indication, where Samsung introduced a bigger black slab with music matching and interactive voice control, no one is even challenging them for control of round 6.
Whether you like Apple and their products or would love nothing more than to kill them just to watch them die, everything that matters that's happened in mobile since 2007 is because of Apple and iPhone, or has been in response to Apple and the iPhone.
Post iPhone ergo propter iPhone.
And as someone who loves technology even more than I love the iPhone, I'm well past tired of it.
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Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.
I'm a die hard BlackBerry user but definitely have to agree with this post 100%.
But, seriously. Aren't we past that now? We're in 2012, Rene. Quit writing about something that happened almost 5 years ago the same day Samsung releases their new device for the sole purpose of trying to downplay the competition. It's trite and it's extremely petty, even for you. I LOVE the iPhone. I think, with the exception of WP7, it is the smoothest OS available today. And everything just sort of works pretty well together (though, again, WP7 completely annihilates iPhone in terms of compatibility) In the past years after the iPhone 1(and possibly 3G w the app store), what has Apple REALLY done that even begins to remotely compare to what their initial innovation was? Oh, right... nothing. Since then, the competition has amped their game in a big way. What has iOS been doing? Gradually and steadily introducing features that were already on other devices. That's it. And their hardware, for the most part, remains largely the same. Sure, it's not broken and for many, it works... but where do you get the audacity to say that Apple has the same level of esteem it did... 4-5 YEARS ago? Things have long changed. Android continues to grow in popularity, to the point where it and Samsung dominate the market now. (Read the news) WP7 has been getting stellar reviews by just about every reviewer and tech person and WP8 is supposed to be a huge step forward to the already very-complete WP7. How long did it take iOS to get a bevel of options like mulitasking, copy and pasting, video-recording etc etc? 3-4 years? Took WP7 one year to get the bulk of that. And its in-house features are made of pure greatness.
You make it seem like the Galaxy S3 is a small step forward. If that was the case, what was iPhone to iPhone 3G? How about iPhone 3G to iPhone 3GS? And minus the display resolution (which the GS upgraded too), iPhone 3GS to iPhone 4? And finally, with the exception of Siri, which really isn't anything notable considering the wealth of 3rd party speech-to-text apps out there, iPhone 4 to iPhone 4S? If you want to crap all over the the SGS3 "update" at least admit that Apple isn't exactly the repeated revolutionary you insinuate them to be. I don't think I should even go into screen size and the iOS interface itself as those things speak for themselves every time an update-time rolls around.
For somebody who claims he loves technology even more than the iPhone, you sure seem adept at omitting or downplaying the market and the evolution of the software since 4-5 years ago - and are, incidentally, thinking like it's still 2007-2008. It isn't. The market is saturated with both Android and iOS alike and neither have a clear-cut advantage over the other and neither can really say "oh, this is best." What we should do is at least give the competition its props instead of trying to make it seem like it is no big thing, while propping your own preference on the pedestal made of your own ignorance and underestimations and still pretending it's the past. If you're a true technology buff the way you slipped in at the end, give Samsung some props for making a good phone. Or at least admit that iOS isn't the perfect, stand-alone-in-its-own-class godly platform you think it is.
I personally think the GS3 looks solid. Not perfect, and not the best increment, but, it does look nice. Similarly, I do hope iPhone steps up their game in a big way and finally decides to run the race instead of acting like it's exempt from it by making no noticeable differences in hardware OR software, year after year, and relying only on its own popularity and brand recognition to sell the devices.
The rest of your comment doesn't really seem to have to do with anything I wrote. (I was exploring the strategy of the last 5 years of smartphone competition -- you're reading into a bunch of stuff I didn't say nor do I believe, which makes it not at all about me and therefor impossible for me to discuss.)
Your history lesson was informative and accurate, if not cute because you're trying desperately to make everyone look back at the iPhone after the massive push Samsung had over the past few months and especially the last few weeks, what with alleged spec leaks, hardware "builds" and other things thrown into the rumour mill.
However, the only real beef I had with this article was that you still act like the Galaxy S line isn't a good competitor with that little "All it is is a bigger screen with music matching. And Siri-something. And it can't compete against Apple!" And that Apple is this stand-alone-in-its-own-class device, when it clearly isn't. True, Samsung doesn't have the same brand recognition iPhone and Apple has, but the fact that the GS2 sold over 20 million GS2 units and the note sold several million units despite its size with its lack of popularity speaks highly for the Samsung devices. And I'm pretty sure nobody who bought those thought "wtf, this isn't an Apple!"
If you don't like the Galaxy S3, that's fine. I think it looks great, but that's just me. However, I DO prefer a One-X over it, if only because it's available now and I have an upgrade to burn. A lot of Android people don't like it, either and again.. no big deal. But to downplay the obvious success and increasing popularity in the market with an iOS device that hasn't even been announced yet? Please!
And yeah, your timing is impeccable. You decided to remind everyone of something that happened 5 years ago the very same day the iPhone's, arguably biggest, competitor releases their flagship device? HMMMM.
I personally think all platforms have their own unique quirks that really separate them from the competition.
iOS has the best games, most apps, great hardware acceleration, tons of memory, decent music service (iTunes). Oh, and iPad 3.
Android has the best hardware (specs), customizations and options, and variety.
WP7 has the best social networking, the best hardware acceleration, best built in apps and best music service.
Ironically, of those three, Android is actually my least favourite. But even then, I'll admit that it's a great OS and is very much a challenger to iOS, if only in ability.
The Galaxy S line is the GREATEST competitor to the iPhone. But it's competing by trying to be the closest thing to an iPhone not made by Apple as possible. Admittedly, Samsung is slowly moving away from that, but they were largely successful by being as close to an iPhone as possible on carriers that didn't have an iPhone, or for people who didn't like something about the iPhone or Apple.
Again, Apple didn't try to be a Treo or a BlackBerry. If they had, maybe they would have sold well, maybe they wouldn't, but they wouldn't have moved the industry forward.
5 years later and Samsung is still, in many ways, aping Apple. Maybe they think they wouldn't be the second most successful smartphone manufacturer in the world (well behind Apple) if they tried something different (though the Note is certainly different at more interesting). But they don't get to be boring and get praised for it.
HTC is much more exciting right now.
Rene, I think you were doing a bit more than that in this article. This is how you ended your opening paragraph ..
"Yet time after time, phone after phone, everything from hardware design to software features are taken as derived from, or as being a response to, the iPhone."
Translated (IMO), that means "Everything since the iPhone is either derived from the iPhone (WAY false), or trying to respond to the iPhone (pretty true, IMO)." The iPhone is now clearly deriving features from Android, not the other way around. Admittedly, it USED to be the other way around. It most definitely is not now. Full stop. - Notifications? Voice - to- text became Siri on the iPhone ? Lock screen notifications? I can name a dozen more that the iPhone derived FROM Android and other OS's.
I don't think the article is completely false. The history is correct, your conclusions about them don't seem 100%. What is very clear to me is that the derivation of features which used to be Other OS's taking iPhone features has swung 180 degrees over recent years. Omitting that is what causes readers to question some of these conclusions IMO ...
What has swung a 180 degrees?
The iPhone launched with pretty much an exact copy (though better looking) of the Treo phone dialer. Last year iOS 5 launched with pretty much an exact copy (though better looking) of the Android notification shade.
None of that mattered. I've explained why often enough -- those are just elements. The same way Samsung copying the Siri challenge/response screen is just an element. Those are just features in an experience fight.
Almost everything Apple has ever done has been derivative -- they take existing technology and combine it in a better, more mainstream friendly way.
And they do it with devastating timing.
Again, that's Apple's attack. And for the most part, every one else is still just responding.
Frankly, I'd like to see a fairer fight. It would be way more interesting.
We likely won't get it, however, as sales and profit figures show Apple is incredibly far ahead, and Samsung is the only other company even in the race -- and they're doing it by essentially aping Apple.
What has turned 180 degrees you ask? "Who is copying who?" has turned. iOS is aping Android for the last several years. That is the point. Samsung as a company is doing a lot of things to ape Apple, but in iOS, Apple is aping Android and some others.
I think the iPhone is great. It really do. It is a great phone for a lot of people. Several Android phones are simply better IMO, but I can at least admit the features that are innovative on the iPhone. If you don't appreciate (or even see) any innovation from Samsung (or other Android phones), then you don't, I guess. I see them, and I think you're closing your eyes if you don't. On the other hand, if you do see any innovation outside of iOS, it would be nice for you to plainly admit it, and stop equivocating and adding backhanded compliments to any non-Apple innovations. There is plenty of non-Apple innovation out there, whether you care to admit it or not..
I'm really glad I'm not the only one who sees that.
I love this paragraph - "It didn’t matter that the 2007 iPhone lacked apps or copy/paste or unobtrusive notifications or MMS or any of a dozen features existing smartphone has on their neat little checklists."
Yet as each of those features were finally incorporated into iOS, the blogs were all reporting how wonderful it was to have those features (finally).
I really wish people can respect both iOS and Android alike. But when everyone makes posts like this, it's hard to really avoid using the "f" word (fanboy).
Hopefully we can discuss that without either of us needing to resort to "f" words.
I enjoyed the lesson in history - your reminding everyone of the iPhone glory days the very same day the big bad GS3 was announced made this all the more fascinating to read - especially since it's not exactly, you know, news. In the back of my mind, and I'm sure other people, I thought "hmmm!"
Sequence of events :
Samsung : Galaxy S3 announced!
Everyone : OOHH AHHH!
You : Well, iPhone started it all... in 2007!!
Really, that's about as evident as an Android fanboy saying "Well, we could do this before you could!"
Ahhh. Well. You got my click. I guess your mission is accomplished.
Samsung announced a Galaxy S III and once again it seemed stuck in the shadow of Apple. That might be good or bad for Samsung, might be great for people who want an iPhone with Siri and iTunes match but don't like Apple, but it's not great for a lover of pure technology.
Watching the event again, it's almost like Samsung knows they can replicate but not create.
When the lady asked for their awesome new alert tone to be played, the one that was supposed to sound like rain, and it sounded like someone was in the bathroom, and her face changed, and she couldn't help but say out loud how awkward it sounded, it summed up the entire event for me -- They hadn't even practiced that part, tried it out, tested it first.
If you love Samsung, great. They make fantastic phones. Their hardware is often the best in the business. They're just utterly beholden to the rest of the industry, mostly Apple, for their ideas.
If that's upsetting to anyone, take it up with Samsung. Troll Samsung.
You mean how Rene reminiscing about the good old days and then taking a jab at the SGS3 w/out even having used it points to the same about Apple users? Yeaaah. How about you look at both sides of the coin, pal.
Actually, I cross platform, and I think that's really the way to go. If you like one only, fine. But don't claim you're a tech buff when you discredit the other guy's legitimate offerings.
I like iOS, really. On the performance, polish, speed and multimedia side of things, it's simply that good.
As much as I liked Samsung (well did until they pulled the you can not speak English because your Latino card), I have to say everyone spoke so highly of the SGSII and reality is, it's not that good of a device (allot has to do with the Gingerbread OS). You can feel the plastic, it was uncomfortable for one handed operations and the screen colors were over saturated (blame Photography training).
When Rene talks about the SGSIII, he is right, Samsung as a company hasn't done anything revolutionary, they simply saw what Apple did and are trying to use the same strategy to win consumers. Is that wrong? No, but it's not original and while you are right there are minor upgrades between 3G and 3GS and 4 and 4S, overall Apple is at a much different place then Samsung. Apple has the devices and the ecosystem to deliver a killer combination, Samsung does not. Though stating all the above I think with ICS and Google Play (Still hate the name) Samsung, HTC, Sony, etc are in position to push the envelop, if they are willing to take chances.
Though gotta agree with you Rene the HTC X (whatever the ATT name is) looks like a extremely sweet device.
Er... no. That isn't the case. The Evo 3D ran GB. So did the Sensation.. and other HTC and Moto devices. They sucked. Hard. Sammy did something great with their powerful processor and hardware optimization (not as good as Apple, but still adequate enough for a smoother Android), so it really isn't just GB. The GS2 was a legitimately good phone. Maybe not the phone for you, but it was a great device on its own merits and not as an iphone clone. As for the screen, eh, to make up for the crappy PPI, I guess you had to do something to cover up. So they brought you oversaturation with the RGB matrix.
And Apple did something right. 7 years ago. Now with each iteration of iOS, they introduce a feature which Android, and even other services have, and then tout it as something magical innovation. They aren't. If you want to know what's really wrong, it's Apple's reluctance to take big steps for the iOS. Features that are typically available on other OS aren't available on iOS.. until next year. Or a year after that. How long did it take to get wallpapers? Hm. Let's not even get into the antiquated UI and tiny screen, which as much as people complain about things being too big, is something that would be very welcome to iPhone. Apple isn't exactly innocent in the smartphone game. Neither is Sammy. The point is, if you're going to take the time to bash someone else, how about you take a good look at what the other guy is doing before praising one and condemning the other. If there was a little bit more of that around than "So and so copied!!" the tech place wouldn't have to use terms like "fanboy!" so openly.
I'll be getting a One-X, too, btw. ^_- That thing does look nice. Probably going to wait until Sammy puts WP8 on the GS3 hardware for me to jump ship to Sammy.
Apple got the first shot in, against the clueless defenseless smartphone makers of 2007, and made it count. The former smartphone leaders were caught with their guard completely down. They still haven't recovered from the impact of iPhone, and some of them never will. And rest of the mobile computing industry is down for the count after getting hit by iPad. TKO.
Samsung with the new GSIII is shooting to compete directly and offer the pieces they need to compete. Sadly what will likely happen is Samsung's initiative will not be evenly deployed, they will not see the immediate market penetration they expect (or demand) and will likely abandon it. Now IF Samsung holds firm and continues to innovate AND delivers what they did on the GSIII to ALL of their Android smartphones then they too could see a solid position emerge.
Over at MacRumors they continue to bash the GSIII as tacky, ugly, huge, plastic, etc, etc. Most if not all of them have never held it, used it or even given it a real head to head comparison.
The GSIII is a big upgrade and yes its bigger, having owned the G-Nexus and the iP4S I can say I didn't mind the size and the screen was nice and not too big for one handed use as so many claim it's not capable of (again without actually holding it EVER).
Apple didn't invent Siri, another company did and they bought them. Apple says Siri is in Beta and while the S-Voice didn't get the first question right I can say Siri doesn't get most of what I ask right most of the time (so keeping throwing stones you're likely to lose an eye). Apple has always been known for taking an idea to the next level and yes many companies will follow up with me too devices, that is what the market demands isn't it.
Samsung can and will push Apple to make new and innovative products and Apple will continue to sit on its collective arse's and not increase the screen size, likely not change the next iPhone up much (as reported here) and they will still sell tens of millions. Keep in mind that doesn't make Apple right and Samsung wrong, it shows people will blindly buy what they want to buy. They will overlook or convince themselves they don't need something.
The forums are rife with users who want, dare I say demand at least a 4" screen, not a mega huge phone but some kind of screen increase and it doesn't make it a phablet or a tabphone it makes it an evolutionary change.
Developers need to get with the program and if they want to make money they will develop to whatever standard says they need to, that is a given. There are apps that are not Retina compatible so handling another resolution shouldn't be an issue.
What I would like, no, what I demand is the best phone on the market today, and that means if the iPhone isn't it and the GSIII is then that's what I will get, but if another phone comes out by the time my upgrade comes up and its better then I will have benefited from waiting.
If you don't like Samsung products, you don't want a 1280x720 HD display, you don't want LTE (today) then that's fine there is a phone for that.
My only thing about the article is that it address recent history but not tech history as a whole. What happens when the trendsetter fails to set the trend anymore?
It happens to every tech company at some point and at some level. Yahoo gave way to Google with respect to search, Dell gave way to HP (which then gave way to Apple, which gave way to HP again) in Laptops... At some point, Apple is going to give way to someone, history would suggest. What happens then? Nokia and Palm were fine on June 28, 2007 but not so much a day after that. What's the fall back plan at that point? Apple obviously have the cash to develop something unique brilliant that changes all the rules again but where do they do it? Just some food for thought...
If you think about it: iPhone, Samsung GS3, Motorola Droid, LG, etc. They are all physically similar. I don't want to say who copied who. However, what makes iPhone shines & better than the others is because it has its own OS! They should get a credit on this.
iPhone vs Samsung GS3, they are not even in the same league.
Apple is true phone manufacturer and make its own OS! That's innovative. While Samsung is "only" manufacturing phone (because they are good in making NAND/FLASH/LCD) and install Android as its OS. Everybody can do this.
In addition: When you are holding Samsung GS3, what's to be proud about?? The high end GS3 is often mistaken with the low end. That's sad and please accept this reality. Does anyone actually care that your GS3 has Quad Core, big memory, etc, etc? Nope. All they see is Android is cheap! (Don't get me wrong, Android is a good OS).
So if I were going to buy a high end phone (e.g. iPhone vs GS3), I definitely will buy iPhone.
---Sorry for my bad English.