I really don't understand what it is about phones that gets people in such a tizzy.
Sure, it's nice to carry a device in my pocket that is both cooler and more functional than the one sported by Captain James T. Kirk in "Star Trek." It's great to have a question about something (like, say, in what episode of "TOS" did Spock sport a goatee?) and be able to whip out a phone and Google the answer ("Mirror, Mirror" -- but you knew that already). I like having maps and apps in my pocket, as well as being able to play a quick game of Wordament while I'm waiting in line at the store.
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Still, by the time the Federation was rolling out its fifth or sixth version of the Communicator or the Tricorder, Kirk & crew were probably saying, "Yeah, whatever, just give me the damned thing." That's how I feel about smartphones.
But it seems I am alone in this when it comes to the iPhone, whose sixth version (which will probably be called the iPhone 5, just to confuse you) is expected to be unveiled a few hours from now. People seem to be just as excited for this new iPhone, despite the fact that, as my colleague Galen Gruman describes, it's likely to come with a few incremental upgrades like a larger screen and LTE 4G wireless, but no earth-shattering new innovations. He writes:
I think it's safe to say that the new iPhone is likely to be a collection of nice improvements on par with the competition, distinguished mainly by its signature look and its superior iOS. Yet even with the diminished levels of fantasy in this year's rumors, there's been a huge, persistent message that something magical will be unveiled tomorrow.
That hasn't stopped analysts from predicting that the new iPhone alone could boost this country's Gross Domestic Product by more than $3 billion. Because analysts are apparently compensated by how much hype they generate -- that's what Gartner really means when it talks about the "hype cycle."
Worse than the Apple bloviation, which has been with us in one form or another since that damned 1984 Super Bowl commercial, is the expectation that everyone else is coming out with its own phone, too. If they're not, they're missing the boat.
For example: Just last week The Verge "confirmed" that Amazon was working on its own smartphone. It must have been embarrassing for those guys when Amazon's press conference came and went with no mention of that alleged handset. The Verge even published a story about what not to expect from the Amazon phone -- like, I don't know, maybe an actual phone? -- which it quietly pulled later. (A cached copy is still available as I write this.)
Dear editors at The Verge: I know TechCrunch has been off its game in publishing completely bogus rumors lately, but was it really necessary to step in and fill the gap?