Is Apple fragmenting the iPhone?
I agree with this.. Sooner or later, people will notice. I think their business model has been excellent in the past years, now its just good, and soon I think they will have to make some changes (within next 2-3 years). I can't see them sustaining their upward rise currently. Many commentors seem to agree.
Is Apple fragmenting the iPhone? | Molly Rants - CNET News
Way down in the fine print about Apple's upcoming iOS 6, you'll find a little note that says new features like Flyover and turn-by-turn directions are only available on the iPhone 4S, or the iPad 2 or higher.
A note immediately below that says Siri is only available on the iPhone 4S or third-generation iPad.
Since the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and iPad 2 are all actively for sale and still being marketed by Apple, I have to wonder: is Apple on the road to fragmenting the iOS experience? Could there come a future when not only do certain Apple apps and services run on some devices and not on others, but when this problem will start to plague third-party developers, as well? And even if app incompatibilities don't result, is Apple risking Android levels of user confusion as it continues to withhold features from its legacy -- but still for sale -- hardware?
This latest slight, keeping turn-by-turn directions off iPhone 4, is especially enraging. It was bad that the iPhone 4 didn't get Siri, much worse that it got no speech to text at all -- not even the little microphone on the keyboard that all Android phones, even the most basic, have. But to withhold turn-by-turn from the iPhone 4 isn't just fragmentation: it's deliberate, aggressive, and abusive forced upgrade behavior.
Sure, the original iPhone 4 is fully two years old -- the 4GB GSM version. You could argue it's just time for folks to upgrade (I'm not a fan of that argument, personally, since it's wasteful if the device works fine, and financially unfeasible for many). But that phone didn't become available on CDMA carriers until February 2011, so some Verizon owners have had it for less than 18 months. The white model didn't come out until April 2011, so fashionistas have had it for barely over a year. And the 8GB model came out in October 2011. That device is less than a year old, and in Apple's OS terms, it's so obsolete it doesn't get speech to text or turn by turn navigation, which have, for the past few years, been the two strongest arguments for getting an Android phone over an iPhone.
Stare lovingly at these helpful directions, iPhone 4 owners. It's Apple's way or the lost highway.
To address, up front, the inevitable argument that the iPhone 4 may not be "capable" of handling turn-by-turn directions (or speech-to-text functionality, for that matter), I will point you not only to any number of midrange Android smart phones (like the same era LG Enlighten) that support both features. I will also point you to any number of iPhone GPS navigation apps that provide turn-by-turn, including the now free MapQuest and the very robust TomTom app, which has been around since the iPhone 3G. And then I will point you to a similar number of voice control apps, like Vlingo. (And in so doing, will solve your problems, too, but that's not the point!)
I'm quite certain the iPhone 4 can handle turn-by-turn and speech functionality. I'm equally certain that Apple kept it out on purpose, and it's not to help out app developers, it's to sell more newer phones, at a clip so fast it makes your head spin. It's a cycle that far outpaces most users' mobile contracts and certainly their wallets. An iPhone is a premium device, and users have a right to expect its features to keep pace with the competition for longer than eight months (in the case of the 8GB iPhone 4).
And Apple now has three versions of the iPhone for sale, each with a different feature set, not to mention three versions of the iPad, each with its own selection of omissions. That's an unusually complicated product scheme for Apple, and customers getting a free 3GS offer or now discounted iPhone 4 are in for a rude surprise when they find that their legacy Apple hardware can't do things that have been baked into every Android phone for years.
Three phones, three different sets of features. How un-Apple of them!
I've written about Android fragmentation before, and many of you know I consider it the biggest threat to that platform's ongoing success. And Android's OS upgrade issues are probably worse than what Apple is currently doing with iOS 6 -- it's closer to differentiation than fragmentation, at least for the moment. And, as one commenter pointed out in a lengthy Google Plus discussion on the topic, you can upgrade your Apple hardware, but you can't force a carrier or Google to upgrade your version of Android.
But a developer writing for iPhone 4S and its processor capabilities could certainly run into problems with the same app on a legacy 3GS, or integrating with mapping features available only on a 4S. Depending on how many versions of the iPhone Apple keeps around after the next version is launched, you can imagine things starting to get awfully messy.
Even if true fragmentation never occurs, leaving the iPhone 4--a perfectly capable and powerful device--in the dust this soon is both unnecessary and inconsiderate. Apple has always pushed a rapid upgrade agenda, but not while continuing the sell the older versions. It's a bad trend, and could backfire as Android and even Windows 8 competition starts to grow. Simplicity works, Apple. Stick with it.
- 06-13-2012, 11:54 AM #3
For the sake of arguement i'll add that Apple has always done this in all of their product lines. My MacBook for example won't use Lion, my iPod Touch won't run iOS6, my iPhone 1 is stuck on iOS3 and cant use the newest apps etc etc etc... Nothing new here and it hasn't hurt them yet.
However, there are brand new Android devices that are stuck on Android 2.3 and will never get updated, which is unacceptable for a new device.
- 06-13-2012, 12:33 PM #4
Apple is by far the best at backwards compatibility and their OS releases. RIM and Google are probably neck and neck toward the bottom.
I wouldnt consider this "fragmenting" at all though as the OS and most features will work.~Matt
16GB PB & Rooted Nexus 4, Z10 LE
I dont consider it fragmentation either. Those are the author's words, not mine. What I do agree with is the lack of features for older models, like the 4, which really isn't that old. These features can easily run on the 4, even the 3gs, but Apple chose not to include it, and it seems like its because they want you to buy the latest hardware. They don't give it to you by choice, not because its not possible. Blackberries with an outdated os and crappy hardware can do turn by turn, even from a few years ago, android does it, Apple can do it to. The ipad 1 has better specs than the 4 I believe and it won't get ios6, they want you to buy the new one, but its perfectly capable of running it I assume.
- 06-13-2012, 01:18 PM #6
Yes, that is what they do, and it is working for them and has been since ios came out. We can compare to the macs but ios is where all their traction is, all their marketshare. My view is that its working now, but im not so sure about 2-3 years from now, maybe even sooner depending on what they release next year. Who knows what BB10 will bring, but it has potential, and with Windows unifying their experience with windows 8, And Android trying to get on top of its fragmentation issue (who knows if that will ever be regulated), Apple, in my opinion, cant continue like this too long. I think 2-3 years is generous. BB10 is this year, and windows 8 the next. Android has been innovating as well. Even though about only 8% adopted ICS thus far, thats bound to change within 2-3 yrs.
At this pace I'm not sure Apple will lead with innovation. Their new tactic seems to be adding retina displays and voice integration/Siri into new devices, but the retina display must stop after this year.. there just wont be any more visually noticeable differences with too high resolutions. Siri is last year, and minor spec bumps are obvious for any manufacturer.
They will need to bring something new to the table eventually, in the form of innovation and with their product updates. I think product updates are most important at this point, unless BB10 kills it off the bat. Windows 8 would probably need to be a good deadline on their roadmap as far as a software change would go. At this point Android and Apple are doing well, I dont see either of them surpassing each other anytime soon.
Rim peaked in 07/08, took just 3 years to be on the bottom. Apple may start going in this direction. Not saying they will, but there's signs of an aging OS here. No one knows if Tim Cook will bring anything new. So far he hasn't, time will tell. He's definitely not the innovator Jobs was.
Even if they start going the opposite way, their $100+ billion in the bank is a tremendous cushion. I cant see them burning through that any time soon, but these are still issues they have to take into consideration.
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Last edited by apengue1; 06-13-2012 at 02:43 PM.
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06-13-2012, 02:28 PM #8
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No, not really. They're all using the same OS, all Apple is doing is making certain features phone specific. It's easier to to charge more for the iPhone 4S compared to the 3GS when it comes with additional features as opposed to just being faster and having a higher resolution screen.
Apple isn't fragmenting their user base like RIM or Android where you have multiple OSs each giving different user experiences. Here you have the same OS across multiple devices all giving the same user experience. The only difference is the additional features on the top end model.
- 07-02-2012, 10:27 AM #9
Playing devil's advocate, these new advanced features coming with IOS 6 may compromise the overall performance of some of the older devices. Users would be extremely upset if their iPhones were incredibly laggy, crashed often, and burned through the battery too quickly. Apple would be crucified if that happened. They seem to try to preserve the high user experience. But then again, they could just be greedy.
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