This past Monday at their annual World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC), Apple gave us a preview of their newly designed mobile operating system – iOS 7. The conference gave Apple another opportunity to show a host of new features to their loyal following, and it gave me another opportunity to watch from the sidelines in an attempt to make sense of it all.
If you spend any time on tech websites, specifically tech news websites, you’d know that a lot of people are starting to find iOS a little boring. Since its inception in 2007, iOS has remained relatively unchanged in terms of look and feel. Sure, Apple releases annual updates that add new feature sets, but the updates are typically quite mundane and far from earth shattering. The majority of armchair critics that I follow were becoming more and more vocal with the general consensus being – it’s time for something new.
But what population of iOS users are actually losing sleep over the lack of change?
We know that technology, and perhaps more specifically, iOS enthusiasts want something new, but I’d be curious to know what percentage of iOS users are represented by this group. Certainly I’m one of them, but the vast majority of people I talk to don’t even really know what iOS is. In their mind, as long as their phone lets them send text messages and surf Facebook life is good. In their eyes, there is no need for a parallax effect on the home/lock screen. There is also no need for their phone to scan which apps they use most frequently in order to update them in the background. To these folks (god I hate that word, why do I use it?) this stuff is simply not needed.
If you want proof to support my theory, I’ll share with you a brief conversation I had with my wife after iOS 7 was released. After showing her some screenshots of the new features and color palette employed by iOS, she looked at me with the most intense “who cares?” look I have ever seen. She immediately followed it up with a less than enthusiastic comment, something to the effect of:
“When will this silly thing be on my phone?….great, I’m going to have to relearn everything. Why do they have to tinker with it, can’t they just leave it alone?”
Apple has to innovate in order to keep up with likes of Samsung and Google – that’s a fact. For some reason though, I just can’t rectify that thought with what I see from most everyday iPhone users.
I guess my point is this: there is a vocal minority out there (of which I belong to) who want to see the latest and greatest features on their phone. They want fast processors, “true” multitasking, higher resolution screens, and the ability to customize their phone to fit their individual needs. In my day to day life though – I just don’t see this pattern unfolding. Most people with smartphones, at least the people I see, use it for texting, social network access and email – that’s it. Multitasking menus, shortcut gestures, and parallax be damned – these people simply don’t care. I suppose they do have a point, why is the ability to see depth in your homescreen a “feature”? It’s completely useless – is this the kind of trivial “feature” we all aimlessly spend our cash on now? That’s a topic for another day I suppose.
But why does Apple’s success rest on their ability to innovate when most users in general (not just Apple) don’t even scratch the surface of what their current device can do? Do the relatively small number of “power users” drive what these technology companies push out their door every year? The answer must be “yes” because from where I sit, the vast majority of everyday users couldn’t care less.
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