Pre-iPhone launch reviews follow a similar path every year, and it’s been that way since Apple’s flagship device launched in 2007. The path falls into three obvious and distinct stages. First, it’s ‘Bah humbug. Boring. Nothing to see here. Move along.‘ Then, the first reviews arrive from actual users– those selected by Apple to provide in-depth and detailed analysis that can only be described as ‘favorable.’ Finally, we get reviews from actual customers who ordered, bought, and received their iPhones.
Seldom are the reviews from each class the same. The first class generally is negative and bored with what they consider to be too little too late. The second class praises the new iPhone and iOS but with enough depth that readers gain a more detailed understanding of the internal changes that appear in new iPhones year to year. Finally, actual customers chime in on actual usage in real world conditions.
With the exception of one concern, 2016 is no different than iPhone launches in years past.
This year, despite everything completely new in iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, I see less excitement than with iPhone models from years past. In fact, the last iPhone that seemed to garner more appreciation and excitement for an upgrade was the original large screen iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. If you traverse the Applesphere you’ll see some technology writers tell you why you don’t need to upgrade to iPhone 7 but that conclusion is none of their business, and most of those do so because of the contrarian nature of the publishers and editors who demand heat-seeking headlines to capture your eyeballs and readership because advertising.
Still, and this is anecdotal research rather than anything scientific (you know, like all the polls that declared Trump the winner of the first presidential debate), there is less personal excitement among co-workers, colleagues, friends and family to upgrade to the latest and greatest.
No, I don’t think so. Perhaps we’ve hit peak technology, a plateau whereby no one gets really as excited with incremental innovation as they do for a couple of years after disruptive innovation strikes. Remember, the iPod was not a great seller for a few years after release. Neither was iPhone. Disruptions take awhile to inherit the landscape from old technology, and we may be in the doldrums of technology gadgets now.
Colloquially, the “doldrums” are a state of inactivity, mild depression, listlessness, or stagnation. The word is derived from dold, an archaic term meaning “stupid”, and -rum(s), a noun suffix found in such words as “tantrum“.
That might describe the negativity that seems to permeate many technology publications and their so-called technology writers about new models of common technology. Like smartphones.
Is all new technology boring to both tech writers and customers?
Obviously not completely, because technology sells, technology wears out, customers want new, different, and better, so it’s unlikely that Apple will suffer as these doldrums continue, but you have to admit we haven’t seen a ‘One more thing…‘ for a few years. Apple generated some early excitement with the Mac Pro nearly four years ago and then let the product sit on the shelf with the engine of incremental innovation turned off. What’s with that? Is there nothing new or have we reached the doldrums of tech gadgets?
That’s my fear.