iPhone X: Imitation Is Not Innovation

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iPhone X: Imitation Is Not Innovation
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This is a Guest Editorial by Shelly Palmer, one of LinkedIn’s Top 10 Voices in Technology and President & CEO of Palmer Advanced Media.

Shelly PalmerMy monthly “new iPhone every year” payment just joined my cable bill, my water bill, and my electric bill as grudge expenses. I hate paying them because the companies charge more and more for the same stuff, and there’s nothing I can do about it.

Apple promised me a new iPhone every year and I fell for it. I didn’t read the fine print. Sure, I can get a new iPhone each year, but there’s nothing in the agreement saying that Apple promises to innovate or lead the industry or make something great. To fulfill its side of the contract, all Apple must do is make a new iPhone and offer it to me. And that’s all it has done.

Imitation is not innovation. The iPhone X (pronounced iPhone ten) is basically a Samsung Galaxy Note 8 (which is basically a Samsung Galaxy S8 with a pen and an additional camera) which is basically a Samsung Galaxy Note 7 (which is its own story). And the Note 7 came out a year ago. Not only is Apple unapologetic about its blatant imitation of Samsung. The company took the artistic liberty of claiming that the iPhone X’s features were “amazing,” “incredible,” and “new.”

I’m a Fanboy, but This Time They’ve Gone Too Far

Truth be told, I am an Apple Fanboy. I have always been. I own multiple versions of practically every product the company has ever made. That said, Apple started to seriously piss me off with the introduction of the iPhone 7 Plus. My article “Apple iPhone 7: Are You F#$king Kidding Me?” is not exactly a love letter to Tim Cook. Then, as if the design flaws were not enough, the fruit company doubled down with the introduction of the MacBook Pro 2016. Another demonstration of the arrogance and avarice brewing in Cupertino. My unboxing of my personal MacBook Pro 2016 inspired another article, “Apple MacBook Pro 2016: WTF?” We always hurt the ones we love.

The Emperor’s New Clothes

“Thank you,” said Tim Cook as he opened Apple’s inaugural presentation at the Steve Jobs Theater. That was the first and last objectively true thing said by anyone from Apple. Calling retail stores “Town Squares” is pretentious and egotistical, not criminal. But taking credit for 4K HDR and calling years-old technology “new” is simply a lie. Say, “We’re late to the game and are proud to introduce an amazing, new, Applesque approach to content created in 4K HDR,” and I’ll run out to get one. But to infer that 4K is somehow an Apple thing: Why, Tim? Why?

Fast forward to the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus announcements. Why not call them what they are? A 7s and a 7s Plus. The devices are iterative, not innovative, and there’s just no reason to purchase them if you have an iPhone 6 or later model.

One more thing: the iPhone X – the “future of smartphones.” Seriously? The iPhone X is the future? Aside from an iteration of portrait mode, the only thing consumers may see as “new” in the iPhone X is FaceID. (BTW: This feature has some people freaking out about having invariant models of their faces stored in the device, but it shouldn’t. From a privacy point of view, FaceID is no better or worse than TouchID, the fingerprint scanner used in previous iPhones. Apple’s secure enclave is about as close to hackproof as modern technology will allow. If you choose not to purchase an iPhone X, don’t use FaceID as a reason. It’s a well-executed quality concept, even if it is “inspired” by the face recognition pioneered by the Samsung Galaxy Note 8).