Currently Apple has three mobile phone models. It started off with the iPhone in 2007, and has steadily evolved since then to reach the iPhone 3GS model. The company is a unique manufacturer, as it is one of the biggest players in the mobile phone market based on three versions of what is basically the same phone. Apple is therefore a true testament to the value of one excellent product over a multitude of mediocre ones. Apple’s true asset was the brand equity and the image of the company. Quality was the hallmark that was stamped on every device that they manufactured.
Apple started out initially as a manufacturer of personal computers. Slowly the brand evolved to become the standard in graphics design and related fields. Apple also introduced a PDA (personal digital assistant) known as Newton during the 90s. However the company only regained its profitability when Steve Jobs returned to the company in 1998, and introduced the iPod a few years later. When the iPhone was finally launched, the expectations that had been generated by all the media hype were far exceeded. Thus the iPhone becomes an industry standard; a benchmark against which all other phones are compared, even though it may not be the best mobile phone currently available. As a matter of fact, the iPhone has generated an industry all its own, having carved a firm niche in the collective psyche of mobile phone users worldwide.
Apple’s rather lovable image was sharply overturned recently, as a result of a tussle with Google. There was growing discontent amongst the developer and user community of the iPhone with regard to the App Store. Apple came across as unnecessarily stringent, and quite inconsistent, with its policies regarding the inclusion or exclusion of apps in their App Store. The Google incident turned out to be the last straw which broke the metaphoric camel’s back and a cascade of bad opinion was launched against Apple.
Through it all Apple remained stoic, sticking to their guns. Very simply, their policies were meant to provide maximum security to the users and the network, and a few developers’ tantrums did not shake their equilibrium. There was no reason to, as a matter of face, since the iPhone remained a top phone regardless.
The iPhone merged two seemingly incompatible concepts: it took the design mantras of a well-styled device and yet created a versatile smartphone. Apple was not the first phone manufacturer to develop touchscreen technology, but their implementation changed the paradigm of mobile phones altogether. There was no need for fiddly styli, nor did the phone suffer under the weight of the additional technology. Some of the features of the phone were undoubtedly meant for laughs, rather than actual utility, but the overall result was a very desirable phone which made a considerable style statement.
In the today’s mobile phone market, the iPhone is certainly not the best phone available. There are the BlackBerry smartphones for business users; the newly released Android phones for Internet integration and synchronization; Sony Ericsson tops the lists for the best multimedia and camera phones; while Nokia has some of the most budget-friendly phones available. Yet, in spite of the hefty competition, the iPhone has remained a benchmark, not only for style, but for all the factors mentioned earlier too. In fact, there are few platforms that can rival the App Store in terms of sheer breadth of choice and numbers.
Right now, the iPhone seems to be the only mobile phone product that Apple will condescend to manufacture. There are of course the various accessories that come along with the iPhone, however they are all tailored around this one device.
Perhaps the company will see fit to continue improving their one flagship product till they either run out ideas or come up with a product that eclipses the iPhone totally. Fortunately, or unfortunately, any new mobile phone product by Apple will result in the same inevitable comparisons that all other phones after the iPhone have had to endure. In short, iPhone has raised the bar so high for its own parent company that chances are that Apple may never meet the expectations they have set up themselves up for.
However, on the bright side, if there ever is another phone by Apple, we can rest assured that it will change the face of the mobile phone industry like its predecessor.