Every tech company has produced a flop or two and Apple is no exception to the rule.
Will Apple’s recent string of hits continue with the iPhone, new iPods, and new Macs? Is it too soon to call the AppleTV a flop? How about the iPhone?
Considering Apple’s restraint in promotion, the iPhone has achieved what few products ever achieve prior to launch. Immortality. For good or bad, the iPhone raises product launches to a new standard.
Apple announced the product nearly six months in advance, ran a few online promos and some TV commercials and didn’t let too many people even touch the iPhone—yet everyone wants one and those that don’t are writing about it.
Can Apple keep up with itself? Check this headline from Franklin Paul and Reuters: “With hype high, iPhone may have to fight a flop.”
One of the obligatory third part quotes is from a David Platt, computer science professor at Harvard University.
That implies right away that there’s been plenty of hype, and that the iPhone will be a major disappointment. I’m sorry to disappoint the learned professor, but he’s wrong on both counts.
First, “hype” is defined as “an extravagant or intensive publicity or promotion… often exaggerating its importance or benefits.” Despite Steve Jobs’ notorious Reality Distortion Field, Apple has shown remarkable restraint regarding iPhone promotion.
Until the past few weeks, there’s been little information from Apple about the iPhone, very few hands-on reviews, and not much in the way of technical details. That’s not hype. That’s restraint.
Second, implying that the iPhone will be a flop because Apple has had flops before is akin to saying the Sun will go Nova soon because it’s happened elsewhere in the galaxy before. That’s fallacious reasoning.
If the iPhone is to flop in a manner similar to previous Apple flops then it should do so for specific reasons, few of which are offered up by the techno pundits and media prognosticators.
Apple has produced flops before. Serious flops. Remember the Apple III? Big flop. Why? It just didn’t work very well. Ever. How about the Newton? Bad hand writing recognition sealed the deal, though the Newton actually became a good, but over priced machine.
Over pricing seems to be an Apple trait. Consider the Cube, the little Mac that was so cool it couldn’t do anything special except relieve you of more money per square inch than any other Mac. Ever.
It could be argued that the Newton and Cube were good products but over-hyped and overly expensive. I would agree with that argument. But that was then and this is now.
The iPhone is not over-hyped or over-promoted but it is highly anticipated (as it is with many, but not all, Apple products) because it does new things for what should be a mature product category, and in ways that make it easier to use what is already a complex product.
Remember, iPhone is from the same company that brought us Apple III, the Newton, the Cube, and—here it comes—AppleTV. Is AppleTV ready to be called a flop?
Reviews of AppleTV are mixed. Few hate it, most who use it like it, but nearly everyone agrees that it needs to do more. Much more, hence a level of disappointment exists. Will that be the same for the iPhone?
Name a product that does all that the iPhone claims, including ease of use. Hmmm. That’s not so easy, is it? OK, name a product that’s similar to the iPhone and costs less? That’s just as difficult because no other cell phone is also a 4 or 8 gigabyte iPod nano.
If the iPhone is going to be a flop for Apple, we’ll see the negative commentary grow quickly after the product is launched. That was the case for the Apple III, the Newton, and the Cube. For now, the negative commentary from media and techno pundits is weak, unreasonable, and mostly contrarian babble.
One more thing. Professor Platt also says this, though I doubt he did it with a straight face:
That’s purely laughable and says something about the hiring practices and education standards at Harvard. Sure it does. Can’t you just picture Apple’s engineers designing the iPhone because they want to watch YouTube clips, run Safari and Mail, play movies, music, and videos? Consumers don’t want such things, right?
Wait. There’s more.
Oh, boy. Where has America’s education system gone? Logic and reason, we hardly knew ye! How about a comparison between a similar priced and featured “smart phone” and the iPhone—click for click, press button for press button?
Hey professor, how much effort, in the form of mouse clicks, does it take to perform similar tasks in Windows vs. a Mac? Or clicks on a Blackberry vs. an iPhone? Come on, professor. Show the world that you’re an educator and not an overpaid, pompous prognosticator in need of an education.