The Wall Street Journal appears to have wanted to cause some disruption in today’s news cycle by publishing a report titled “Polaroid. Walkman. Palm Pilot. IPhone?” The Wall Street Journal questioned whether the iPhone is going to go the way of previous portable devices such as the palm pilot in becoming obsolete. The article notes that as the iPhone becomes more commonly used, demand for new models often drops even as the company introduces new features and ideas for the device.
If history is any indication, though, America’s favorite handheld device will someday take up residence with the digital camera, the calculator, the pager, Sony’s Walkman and the Palm Pilot in a museum. Although it’s hard to imagine the iPhone dying, change can sneak up rapidly on contraptions that are deeply entrenched in American culture.
Consider it was as recently as the mid-1990s when I spent an hour a day during my senior year in high school in a room full of electric typewriters learning to type. Today, I spend most of my working hours using that skill to bang away on a keyboard, but I have rarely touched an actual typewriter in 25 years.
“Over time, every franchise dies,” said Nick Santhanam, McKinsey’s Americas practice leader in Silicon Valley. “You can innovate on an amazing mousetrap, but if people eventually don’t want a mousetrap, you’re screwed.”
Tepid iPhone sales aren’t all that ail Apple in China. Competition from local smartphone rivals, trade-dispute fallout and a court battle could make 2019 a tough year for the company.
The WSJ concludes that the iPhone’s popularity throughout the years is a great achievement, but it is now up to Tim Cook to take the company in a new direction:
By all accounts, the iPhone’s run—nearing the dozen-year mark—has been remarkable, especially when you consider the average company in the S&P 500 remains in the index for only 15 years. Mr. Cook’s legacy, however, hinges on how well he pulls off Apple’s next act.
For more, read the full report (subscription required) at the Wall Street Journal.
It’s hard to agree with the WSJ on this one. For one thing, the Sony Walkman and Polaroid cameras were single function machines that didn’t upgrade to the digital era.
The iPhone, is a communications device, a high-end camera, a music streaming device, a digital wallet, a turn-by-turn navigation device, a video conferencing device, a voice recorder, a calculator, a movie player, a social media device, it offers an office productivity suite, it’s an electronic boarding pass and the iPhone could continue to add functionality in seconds with an update to keep the iPhone relevant for a long time. The iPhone today with advanced Face ID is not the iPhone of 2007. It will continue to morph to stay relevant. It’s not a dead one-trick pony gadget.
To not understand that, means that someone’s mind isn’t in tune with the digital era. So why did the WSJ publish this nonsense? Will the iPhone ever die? Most everything dies, but it’ll be far into the future and not because Apple missed their latest quarter.
In twenty years some will look back and say, the WSJ was right. But for us living today, it’s too far out into the future for it to matter. And when that time does arrive, it won’t matter because Apple will have delivered the next great thing.