Apple's special event, minus the special

They're colorful, they're fast, they're utterly boring: Meet the new iPhones, not terribly different than the old iPhones

Yesterday, as it always does around this time of year, the circus came to town. There were clowns, jugglers, dancing bears, acrobats, monkeys riding elephants, and oh yeah, a couple of new iPhones.

Yes, I'm talking about another Apple special event, only this time somebody forgot to pack the "special."

[ For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]

There was, of course, the iPhone 5c, whose primary distinguishing characteristic is that it's available in a plastic case featuring five kindergarten-friendly color schemes. (I see a new ad slogan brewing: "Plastic -- it's fantastic!") Then there was the iPhone 5-little-s, which replaces the iPhone 5 in Apple's product line, but not the iPhone 4-big-S. It seems that, like certain passwords, Apple phones are now case-sensitive.

The 5s features a faster processor, a better camera, a gold band, and something that actually is worth writing about: the Touch ID fingerprint scanner that lets you log into the phone and make iTunes store purchases using only your digits. As ITworld's "Thank You for Not Sharing" blogger Dan Tynan notes, Touch ID on the 5s could well be the thing that makes biometrics go mainstream -- and not necessarily in a good way.

Next week, of course, Edward Snowden will release a series of truly hideous PowerPoint slides detailing how the NSA already has all our fingerprints on file, ready for that moment when each of us is declared a terrorist suspect.

As for the rest of humanity, well, those animal noises you keep hearing are the sound of 10 million bloggers all yawning at once:

Even Apple's No. 1 fanboy, M.G. Siegler, couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to tell us how great the iPhone is and instead devoted his coverage to the observation that Apple design honcho Jonathan Ive seemed to prefer the cheapo plastic 5c models to the flagship 5s. How does he know this? Ive's voice sound marginally more passionate in the 5c product video, he thinks.

This is probably how Siegler decides where to invest Google Ventures' billions, too. Where can I get a job like that?

It may well be that the smartphone market has reached the point where any improvements will be purely incremental, not life-altering. I get that. But it doesn't explain the lack of anything else even remotely interesting being introduced. Just a few years ago, Apple was the company that defined our digital dreams. Now they're regurgitating last year's technology in Kool-Aid colors.

I haven't played with iOS 7 yet, but unless it's a massive rethinking of the last version -- and from what I can tell, it isn't -- Apple is now behind the interface curve, not ahead of it. As InfoWorld's own Galen Gruman notes, Apple has stooped to stealing ideas from Android and Windows Phone. Yes, it has come to that.

So I'm sticking with my declaration from last week: Stick a fork in Apple, it's done. The world's 10 million rabid Apple bloggers need to find a new object for their digital obsessions.

Am I wrong? What's your take on the latest greatest Apple whatever? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Apple's special event, minus the special," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Join the discussion
Be the first to comment on this article. Our Commenting Policies