The iPhone 6 Is Just a Linear Upgrade, And I’m Fine With That

It has pretty much become trendy these days to make fun of Apple as the company that keeps promising innovation but hasn’t actually delivered it in a while. Personally, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing, and what we’re seeing with Apple’s recent announcements might just be the natural pattern of the tech world.

A lot of people probably see the Apple Watch (and smartwatches in general) as another grasp towards innovation for the sake of innovation. Everybody in tech wants to be that company that stays ahead of the curve when it comes to introducing new things people didn’t know they wanted. What people don’t seem to realize is, that takes time.

I think the iPhone 4 and original iPad four years ago were the last really huge leaps forward when it came to innovation in Apple devices. There have been some cool new software features since then, but the last few years of Apple devices have seemed like linear upgrades in hardware power and the capabilities of the camera. I don’t mind this because I don’t expect Apple or Google to provide us with an earth-shattering new idea every 18 months. How many companies are actually able to do that?

Maybe the successive new models are getting boring for people who upgrade every year, but I’m still rocking an iPhone 4 from 2010. I want to upgrade to an iPhone 6 not because it’s “the next big thing,” but rather for the same reason I would upgrade my computer — my current hardware is too slow to run the latest software. I buy hardware primarily for its software, and me getting an iPhone 6 is basically me buying access to iOS8.

Well, the biggest reason in my particular case is actually because Apple is finally offering a 128GB iPhone — essentially my dream device. I guess that is one hardware “innovation” that’s major enough for me, I don’t know about you. The hard drive of my iPod Classic failed a couple years ago and I’ve been living off the meager amount of songs I can fit on my 16GB iPhone ever since. I was never really able to drop the money on a replacement Classic and Apple has just discontinued the thing. My iPhone nearly replaced my laptop when I first got it, but the last media consumption function it can’t do right now is hold my 60GB music collection.

Maybe Apple will come up with something else that reshapes our lives in another year or two. I think what’s at least as likely is some new up-and-comer is going to seize the initiative on innovation in the mobile hardware market with everyone else following. That’s really why innovation is so prized — the first company to have the next big idea has the initiative and usually becomes the leading brand. But I think there are intermediate periods where we just see the same technology get more powerful and more refined. Because mobile hardware manufacturers iterate so quickly, we get these linear iterations in these intermediate periods between the periods of innovation. I think that’s where we are now. Maybe this is why game console manufacturers only upgrade their hardware every five years: they want each new machine to feel like a quantum leap from the last one. Strangely enough, that’s about the rate at which I buy new cell phones.

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