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The ways to keep iPhone GREAT

There are a few simple laws that need to be followed for that to happen

iPhone alongside Google's Pixel 7 Pro

I tried leaving iPhone but came running back.

Is it perfect? No, but it is coming pretty bloody close. Then again, all of the top-tier phones are good – Samsung and Google are class acts and, oddly, need one another as we’ll come to find out…

Even though we may be at peak smartphone, you know that there will be more to come and the reason for that is simple – competition. The way I see it there are three ways that Apple, Google and Samsung will continue to iterate and improve and one of those ways is way more important than the others.

iPhone pushing on

This year’s iPhone 16 may end up not looking all that much different from last year’s iPhone 15 but inside it could well be massively different.

At WWDC this June we are promised an AI feast from Tim and the gang as artificial intelligence begins to take a grip on iPhone and iOS. Quite what Apple has in store, who knows but is going to be the dawn of a new era.

Last week I chewed the fat on how AI can possibly square with Apple’s privacy policies – a debate for another day – the point I’m making is that Apple has only joined the AI playbook because of competition and the fear of being left behind.

Apple has recently been in hot water with various governments and commissions over fears they have some kind of monopoly. Not for a single moment do I think that’s the case…and you what? I don’t think Apple would want it that way either.

The only reason their iPhone continues to get better and the other flagship phones too is because of one another.

Our voices – do they matter

I mentioned earlier that there are three ways that Apple-like corporations are forced into change.

One of those is us – our voices. At the end of the day, we are their paying customers. Apple relies on us buying their iPhones and of course, keeping us happy and coming back year after year.

But for all that I fear our voices are probably the least potent tool in enforcing change. If there was a particular feature or function, we the customers wanted – say for instance a shutter button for the camera, how many voices do you think it would take to be heard? Has a change ever come to the iPhone due to public pressure?

Apple manages to keep us happy by reading the room as it were – they know what we like about their iPhones well enough so they keep on improving, innovating and delivering on those core points. But in honesty, I don’t think our collective voices make that much difference – do you?

The enforcers

The second most effective way to make changes happen is probably the least popular method – sadly though, it works, and sometimes for the good.

We all know about the long and somewhat tedious DMA wars that have played out in the EU recently. As much as Apple has been set against it, and as much as in general, I abhor governments intervening with the actions of private companies, I guess there is a tipping point where they do become too large and powerful and need to be kept in check.

So far there hasn’t been a slew of stories from iPhone users in the EU telling us that their phones are now full of bloatware or riddled with bugs since side loading has become a thing in those member countries. Apple had long cited that as the reason that were against the notion of being able to install apps from outside of their App Store.

In reality, it seems that maybe they simply wanted things their own way. I know it’s still early days and Apple has made it far from easy to use alternate app stores on iPhone, but I stick by my mantra that competition has to be good.

Apple Pay is the best contactless payment system out there but if another company feels that they can do better and deliver on that promise, then I’m all for it. Early murmurings from developers are promising as well. They’ve noticed some policy changes that seem to have positively affected them and how they work.

The ink is far from dry on how the DMA shenanigans will eventually play out but Apple has already started to face similar problems in the U.S. The days of Apple or any of the gatekeepers having it all their way seem over. Tech is heading into a period of change.

That has to be good for us right? Choice is not only beneficial to us but it will also create competition. If a better version of Apple Pay does come along, then that will force Apple to raise their game and so it will carry on.

Changing times

The best way to make sure that our iPhones continue to improve though is through healthy and direct competition from its main rivals – Samsung and Google.

Around 10 years ago it was a very different playing field. Apple pretty much had the smartphone market all to itself. They’d seen off Blackberry and they were really the only option.

Then Google piped up – driven by, you’ve guessed it, competition! Yup with the clout they had, they knew they could make a decent dent in the marketplace and set about achieving the goal of smashing Apple’s stranglehold.

Much like Apple, their phone ran their software – so it was tailored to and run its best on their Pixel series of phones. Apple took note and so their OS started to improve for us iPhone lovers and so the game plays on.

Sure the two OS and handsets are very different beasts – but that’s great. It means there’s something for everyone. Samsung of course uses Google’s Android but it feels and looks very different on the S24 than it does on the Pixel 8 Pro. Choice and competition can only be for the good.

As if to prove that competition is a good thing, today a report has come out showing that Apple’s iPhone sales figures have slipped in Q1 of 2024 – and quite dramatically.

Hit by rapid growth in shipments by rival Chinese rivals, Apple’s shipments fell 9.6% to 50.1 million units in the first quarter, down from 55.4 million units in the same quarter the previous year. Of all the main players Apple took the worst hit according to the report from the International Data Corporation (IDC).

The baying pack is catching up…

We are quite likely living with phones that are about as good as they can ever be. AI will take us to the next step for sure but the driver that will continue to make Apple, Google and Samsung continue to improve won’t come from any law or mandate or our loud clamouring voices – nope it will come from looking over their shoulders at what the chasing pack is up to.

Competition not only comes from directly from phone makers. New categories have to be good for the tech space as well. The AI Pin from Humane is another classic example of that. Whether or not it proves a hit we shall see, but you can Bet Apple & Google have taken note – will that eventually be what takes over from our smartphone-driven future?

While Apple stands accused of running a cartel or monopoly, in truth it’s so far away from that. Apple would make great products and iPhones whatever, but they will be made all the better, ironically by Samsung and Google.

This is a case of three being far from a crowd. They need one another – and we get to benefit.

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