As somebody who only recently worked out what ROFL stood for, it would be easy to assume that technology isn't generally my thing. But, there's something about product launches that get me excited. No, I won't be the first person to own the Apple's latest offering - the iPhone 5 - in fact, there's a good chance I'll be the last. Those things are just so darn slippery I get frightened just holding them for friends, and I'm pretty sure my fingers are the wrong design to use them with any efficiency.
It’s the race I like. The pursuit of the ultimate software, hardware and look. Companies working their coding, marketing and research fingers to the very bone just to produce a product we’ll choose as our favourite to access Facebook and call our Mums from. It’s exciting, what this incredibly disturbing consumer drive does to what we can own, and how we construct our identities according to these portable worlds of information.
But, the idea of the ‘race’ may well be ending. The intense pressure of smartphone technology has reached new heights with Samsung’s costly billion-dollar loss to Apple. The recent highly publicised court case confirmed that Samsung had copied crucial features of the iPhone and iPad, and now they could be set to lose their very popular Galaxy S2 from the market as the trial continues.
Apple is the cockiest brand around. Their identity means everything to them and according they behave a bit like the coolest kid in school. They bully, or sue, anyone and anything that gets in the way of their top-dog status. They’ve persecuted over the lower-case ‘i’ over ‘pod’ over ‘app store’ and even went after New York City over its use of ‘The Big Apple.’ They are the jock that pushes nerds into lockers, wears sunglasses indoors and dictates what others need to do to look the part, then mock them when they try too hard.
Their last major lawsuit wasn’t successful - they lost when they went after Microsoft in the eighties, and so the technological playing field was left open and interesting. But, the fact they’ve smashed Samsung now marks a new era in the evolution of technology. Patent law is screwy, loose and subjective: there are as many reasons why Apple won as why they might not have won. Accordingly, the intimate details of the litigation are dull - more curious is Apple’s scary quest for brand supremacy - they’re aiming so high they could end up losing sight of why they’re the best at what they do, as is the curse of market domination. I guess you stop trying so hard. In all those high school films, the jock usually ends up overweight and miserable, right?
So the iPhone 5 launch comes with an interesting, brand new context. It’s already been referenced as ‘evolutionary rather than revolutionary’ it’s faster and thinner, but there’s nothing too new and exciting to report. It’s also the first release without Steve Jobs at the helm, and has been their biggest launch yet as the world waits to see how they’re coping without their leader. It remains to be seen whether they'll continue to innovate, or if they'll simply opt to dominate. Here's hoping the race will keep surging forward.