Gruber Gets Us

An by “us”, I’m referring to my family.  In writing about the recent iPhone 4S announcement by Apple, John Gruber writes:

As for the argument that Apple has failed because the iPhone 4S, however nice an improvement overall, is not enough to entice iPhone 4 users to upgrade — so what? Normal people don’t buy brand-new $700 smartphones each and every year. In the U.S. they buy them on two-year contracts, and they don’t shop for new ones until their old contracts are over. So the iPhone that the 4S needs to present a compelling upgrade for is the 3GS, not the 4. And the iPhone 4S absolutely smokes the 3GS. It’s crazy better than the 3GS. 2009 3GS buyers who skipped the iPhone 4 — which I’m guessing are most of them — ought to be delighted by the iPhone 4S.

We saw the same criticism with the iPad 2 — that it wasn’t a compelling upgrade for existing iPad owners. In a way, those critics are right — the iPad 2 is not a compelling upgrade. But it wasn’t supposed to be — Apple expected iPad 1 owners to keep using the iPads they already own. Normal people don’t replace $600 gadgets annually — and they rightfully expect their $600 gadgets to remain useful and relevant for more than 12 months.

I read that and pretty much saw how my mind (and wallet) think when considering new Apple products.  I really don’t want to be an annual iPhone upgrade cycle.  So the iPhone 4S really should be compared to the iPhone 3GS in my purchasing decision making.

Similarly, there’s no way I’m dropping $499 every year on the latest iPad.  That’s just insane.  I can only hope that the next iPad product line iteration smokes the first generation iPad.  I still haven’t decided what the cycle should be for upgrading the family iPad.  My current thinking is $499 every two years seems a bit steep for what is not a critical piece of computing hardware within the household.  I imagine as Mason and Jude get older, the importance of the iPad will rise within our family.  In fact I expect them to have their own iPads as their primary computing device for school well before they have laptops or desktops.  Even when they get to the point of having to write reports and research papers, I’m thinking they’ll be more inclined to use another computer they have access to, such as at a library, instead of having their own tradition laptop or desktop.

Lastly, another great thought from Gruber is his comparison of the iPhone 4 design to the Porsche 911 design.  I think it’s spot on.

Apple pursues timeless style, not fleeting trendiness. This iPhone design might be like that of the Porsche 911 — a distinctive, iconic, timeless, instantly-recognizable representation of the product’s brand itself.

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