Poor Apple. The company just cannot catch a break these days. Wait. What? No. It’s always been that way. Apple is the one company you can count on to be late to the trend leading up to the next insanely great thing.
Whatever it is. Apple was late to point-and-click with Lisa and then Mac. Xerox Star had it first. Apple was late to the portable personal computer business; Apple was late to the portable music player business; late to the smartphone business, too. You get the idea, right?
As I look back at Apple’s hit products over the past 20 years– at least back to when iMac debuted in 1998– our favorite iPhone company seems to relish playing the underdog and getting to the dance after the music started. Yet, somehow, before the dancing is done, Apple is playing the music that everyone wants to hear.
What’s coming? What’s the next insanely great thing that Apple is about to miss?
And why not? Foldable televisions will be here any day now. Jason Snell explains:
The flexible OLED display, long demoed but never sold, is coming to TVs (from LG) and smartphones (from Samsung, among others). In a smartphone market that has consistently gone ape for larger and larger displays, phones that double in size once they’ve left your pocket could be game changers.
Unless they aren’t. Maybe we should actually seem them in the marketplace before we get all hot and bothered over the prospects of a smartphone whose display can double with a touch. Based on the iPhone XS Max and its 6.5-inch display, doubling it could take future versions to iPad mini size. It’s unlikely we’ll be able to hold all that in one hand while texting or taking photos and movies. Even selfies will be a challenge.
Yet, displays are destined to be the next great thing. But only when Apple decides to jump in. Remember the portable music players? The ones that held a CD of 12 songs? iPod killed that one in a hurry. Remember the smartphones that were so smart nobody could figure out how they worked? iPhone killed those in a hurry.
Hype loves early adopters and first to market.
Apple isn’t much on industry trend hype and seldom first to market with major products. Yet, somehow, once Apple decides to move, the rest of the industry followed. Remember the first Samsung smartphones? Nobody else does, either. Watch killed them.
Apple is all about differentiation, not first mover status.
The company is the master of timing. It waits as its competitors fuss with buggy and limited, early-stage tech and then springs into the market when it feels it’s ready to integrate that new technology in a way that its customers will appreciate. That’s why Apple has a reputation for innovation — and why fans of its competitors endlessly complain that some other company did something first and didn’t get the credit.
Remember Wi-Fi and Bluetooth? Apple was late there, too, but set the standard on how both should be implemented; all wrapped up in macOS and iOS in ways that just worked. Or, rather, put another way, worked better than the first movers.
The market has yet to see a foldable phone you can try and buy, but they’re on the way. Why? Samsung, LG, and others sell displays, and getting customers to upgrade is an important mission on the road to survival, so, ipso facto and alakazam– foldable displays.
Snell nails it:
A foldable iPhone could be a giant phablet that folds out into a small iPad. But it could also be a small, iPhone SE-size model that flips open to provide iPhone XS Max-style real estate on demand. Maybe the future of the foldable iPhone is more like a Palm phone that flips out to become a phablet, not a phablet that becomes a tablet.
I don’t worry about Apple not getting into 5G this year or next year because the rest of the interwebs doesn’t travel at 4G LTE speeds, let alone speeds 10 to 100-times faster. When Apple introduces an iPhone with 5G, then you’ll know the market is about to mature.
Ditto for foldable displays. It’s just another party where Apple may be the last to arrive, gets hit on the most, but always leaves in a limo.