The Hills Are Greener: Why Has Google Lost Control of Controllers?

The Hills Are Greener: Why Has Google Lost Control of Controllers?

Aug 19, 2013

If there is one thing that I do not understand, it is how Google could get gamepads so right, and then so wrong.

The thing they did right was exactly what Apple is doing: creating a standard HID protocol that controllers could use. It’s something where any Xbox controller can be used by an Android device. And anyone could make a contorller that could be supported by games.

Yet, there are still many alternate APIs in place and the Android gamepad market is still a mess. MOGA supports HID on one controller but they also are pushing their own API. Green Throttle’s off pushing multiplayer-focused games. There’s others out there too.

So where did Google go wrong? Simple. They didn’t do enough to push their own controller API that’s built-in.


Good luck trying to find HID-controller-compatible games on Google Play. Heck, good luck knowing that you could just plug an Xbox controller into your Android device. It’s a somewhat-undocumented feature. Well, that and the whole USB host functionality through micro-USB ports is a bit of a mystery too. But Bluetooth gamepads? That problem should be solved. Not so fast, my friend. Because everyone’s looking out for themselves, the push has been for companies to make their own controllers instead of adhering to the standard.

Now, Apple’s creating a standard with MFi gamepads, and not making their own, but the big difference is this: their walled garden. Because they can effectively shut down any other protocols, or make discoverability for them a challenge (iCade games on the App Store can’t mention in their descriptions), they can make their MFi protocol the go-to one. As well, they’re specifying particular protocols for how the hardware should work and be laid out. And again, because they have the force of the walled garden behind them, they can ensure that this will be ultimately the only gamepad protocol.

Google can’t necessarily do this in a fair way because there’s already games on the store, and shutting down competitors abruptly because they don’t like them seems like bad poker. But they can do a lot to make their protocol attractive. They can feature HID-enabled games. They could make an interface for Android unconsoles to use. They could make an official Bluetooth controller. Really, they could do anything more than install the protocol that Nvidia helped to develop in Android and leave it out there to flounder. Because Android, despite having a two-year head start with gamepads, is still floundering in that aspect and now Apple’s catching up.

Seriously, they could do anything more than they’ve already done.

The Hills Are Greener: Google’s Clever Chromecast Gambit

The Hills Are Greener: Google’s Clever Chromecast Gambit

Jul 29, 2013

Google finally just did something really interesting in trying to win the battle of beaming media to TVs: they decided to go mass-market. Chromecast is an absolutely genius move from Google.

Apple could and arguably should have won this already. The Apple TV and AirPlay could have dominated, and for all intents and purposes, has been the winner by default. Samsung’s AllCast has barely made a blip, and Miracast has limited interest so far. But yet, since Apple has taken AirPlay to just be a hobby to this day, there’s been a gap still. And Chromecast could fill it because no death blow has been made yet.

The price has a lot to do with what the Chromecast can do: $35 is budget and impulse-buy friendly. I hardly ‘need’ a Chromecast (though owning one for work purposes is a good idea) and I bought one pretty much instantaneously. That it sold out instantaneously means that there’s definite consumer interest there too, even just as a curiosity. Turn any TV into a smart TV for $35? Sure! And it’s cheaper than most other solutions out there. That’s a scary price, and one that will likely get other streaming services scrambling to get Chromecast-compatible.

Chromecast-CastIconBut most importantly, Google is focusing on content to start off with. There’s the ability to beam any Chrome page to a TV, quite possibly including video elements. This could serve as a great springboard for the Play video service. And most importantly, they got Netflix, the kahuna of streaming video services, at launch. Without Netflix, this thing is a heap of garbage.

Google used a bit of smoke-and-mirrors to pull off the reveal too. They’ve conveniently not shown the USB power cable that extends out of the Chromecast to power it. They also announced the free 3 months of Netflix that were taken away when they ran out of codes a day later due to high demand. Should they try to reinstate it? Such a move would be clever (and would make it a no-doubter proposition for Netflix subscribers who would end up basically paying $11 for the device), but may not be prudent in the long term.

Oh, and this all works cross-platform. Chromecast will work with seemingly anything built to support it as Google (or hackers) allow it. It’s not just about the edge case of mirroring or streaming, it’s about users being able to get the content they want on their TV easily. And Google’s going to get them to do it cheaply and with Google products.

What Google does with Chromecast over the next year, if they can turn it into the big push-to-TV standard based on price, will be interesting. But they’re off to a big start, because their biggest competitor failed to pin the market when they had the advantage.

The Hills Are Greener: Android’s Greater Mission

The Hills Are Greener: Android’s Greater Mission

May 6, 2013

One of the beautiful things about Android is how open it is for developers. It’s possible for anyone to make an app and put it out there to the world. One may say that the second part is true as well, but this has been difficult thanks to the regulations of the popular distribution mechanisms. However, there remains one big philosophical difference between the two platforms: Android allows unapproved software to live, Apple does not.

The thing that reminded me of this was learning of the existence of a store called F-Droid. Does the world need another app store? Probably not in most cases, but this store’s hook is interesting: it’s all free and open source software. There’s a wide variety of apps, many of which are on popular stores like Google Play as well, but their featuring here is in support of a greater mission. The store has limited regulations, largely regarding the open source nature of projects and the privacy of the data that apps should use.

fdroid-135Is this store going to change the world? No, and it doesn’t have to. It just has to exist as a way of showing that apps that believe in the free distribution of software can exist on a platform built on those principles. Google may have their own restrictions and regulations for Google Play, some of which are solely self-serving, but ultimately, their decisions are always tinged with the ultimate reminder that “just because we reject something, doesn’t mean it can’t exist.”

This is the thing that has always annoyed me about Apple’s policies. They take many steps to remove apps that they disapprove of either due to silly policy reasons, or even due to outright censorship. Now, when Google rejects an app, it’s not the end. On Apple, it very much is so. Jailbreaking is not an acceptable alternative when Apple goes to such lengths to shut it down. The culture has also led to that scene to be as much about going against what Apple wants rather than just as a way to openly distribute software in alternative ways.

Such is the thing that annoys me about iOS. Apple’s OS is so patently against openness that it gives me pause. It’s all in the name of making the OS work in the way Apple wants, but surely there has to be a balance between that and having a platform that ultimately serves a greater good? Android’s openness, part of its very nature, means that it will likely be the OS, or at least spearheading a greater Linux movement, to be part of many different technologies. Our appliances, wearable technologies, people can make them smart with free software and while Google’s track record is not perfect in this respect it’s light years ahead of what Apple does and continues to do. Apple is out to make Apple and their products better. Google is looking to do that as well, but even as just a byproduct of their mission with Android, they’re promoting something greater.

The Hills Are Greener: Apple “Pass”-ing on to Android

The Hills Are Greener: Apple “Pass”-ing on to Android

Feb 11, 2013

Apple has a reputation for locked-down devices and services that try to keep users on the Apple side of the fence. It’s hard to leave when they offer so many services that can helpfully tie in with other Apple services, isn’t it? It’s a great way to get people to not stray. However, there’s one particular irony that has struck me recently as I was doing some research into Passbook: the file format they created for displaying membership cards, tickets, and other information, is actually on Android. There’s an app caled PassWallet that can open up manually-downloaded Passbook files and use it to display Passbook cards. While apps that integrate with Passbook will not quite work with this, it’s still one of Apple’s killer features done through a third party.

Now, this seems distinctly un-Apple, right? After all, protocols like iCloud, iMessage, and FaceTime are all essentially locked down to Apple devices. Apple would never create a standard that others could use openly?

Not true! Consider your web browser. If it’s the stock Android browser or Chrome, then it’s based off of WebKit, which is an Apple invention that they released as open source. Yes, Android fanboys, there’s significant technology that Apple helped to create powering Android devices. Go figure.

So what’s the point? Well, when Apple goes and makes things that can be used by everyone, good things happen. If Passbook cards get officially opened up and adopted on a more widespread basis, mobile users could come one step closer to lightening their wallets or ditching them entirely. And Apple can still claim a quality advantage. Safari still works better than Google Chrome on mobile (desktop is another story). Passbook has the advantage of Apple’s official integration, meaning it works extremely well. When I’m near a location, my cards automatically show. It’s very cool.

But just think if Apple finally opened up FaceTime – the potential for a video calling standard could finally be realized. Or if iMessage opened up. If Apple adopted some form of mobile payments, the industry would have to follow. Apple is an industry leader, and they make quality products and services: if they stopped hoarding them, then who knows what benefits would come to everyone, including Android users?

The Hills Are Greener: Up and Down

The Hills Are Greener: Up and Down

Jan 28, 2013

When comparing iOS and Android, there’s a fairly curious dichotomy between the two platforms and their patrons, Apple and Google.

Apple’s stock took a hit recently based off of what some may consider misconceptions. One, Apple posted record revenues and profits yet saw their stock take a dip on the unconfirmed rumors of iPhone 5 orders being cut, and their failure to hit analyst projections.

Meanwhile on Android, Google’s running into problems with stocking their Nexus and Chromebook devices. The Nexus 4 has been sold out for weeks. The Nexus 10 has been sold out for a while as well. Even the Samsung Chromebook has been sold out for…well, I don’t recall ever seeing it actually on sale. Perhaps it never was. Even in retail stores it’s still sold out.

Yet, these show how far apart the two companies are: Apple, who are extremely susceptible to the rumor scene, can ahve massive dips in stock prices based solely on rumor and speculation, never mind if it’s actually true, as Tim Cook seemed to hint at. But at least Apple can sell iPhones – while stock was tight early on, things started to even out and it’s a lot easier now to go and buy a new iPhone 5.

Meanwhile, Google should be facing severe stock questions, in that even in dealing with multiple suppliers, they can’t provide adequate numbers of devices to meet their demand, what’s going to happen when they finally start to take advantage of their Motorola acquisition? Will they be able to produce enough stock to meet up with demand? Or will the short supplies of Nexus devices turn people off? I still want a Nexus 4, but the lack of availability of one helped turn me into an iPhone 5 owner (though I’d still like one for testing!). I’d love a Samsung Chromebook too, but good luck buying one. I sometimes pop into Best Buy to see if they have them, but nope.

Google is in a good position of where they know that people want to buy their phones and tablets from them. Long-term, that’s a good thing. But confidence in doing so needs to be built, and for the Nexus devices to have been out of stock this long is surely throwing off people who would have otherwise bought them by now. Compare this to Apple, who are able to make enough phones and tablets for everyone, yet fear that they may have too many is throwing off their stock price.

It’s a crazy world in the land of Apple vs. Google.

The Hills Are Greener: Why Smaller Tablets Aren’t Just Physically Smaller

The Hills Are Greener: Why Smaller Tablets Aren’t Just Physically Smaller

Jan 21, 2013

A reminder that the Android market is not the same as the iOS market has been served by Super Hexagon. The Nexus 7 version of the game suffers from a latency issue on touch release that appears to be a hardware-level issue thanks to a cheap touchscreen on the Nexus 7, according to developer Terry Cavanagh; initially the game was going to skip the Nexus 7 but as players manually installed the game and reported that the issues were minor, he decided to go ahead and enabled Nexus 7 support on Google Play. Crisis averted.

Now, while eventually it was sorted out, the point is this: the Android tablet market is largely defined by cheap devices. The Nexus 7 got its start, after all, as a low-cost 7" tablet from Asus that was highly-powered, but concessions had to be made to get it down to the $200 level. There’s a general feel that it is less sturdy than say an iPad, though its rubbery grip could be the cause of that. Still, it’s something that pales in comparison to Apple’s hardware design – one may not enjoy Apple products, but their craftsmanship is very high, even on their relatively low cost ones.

It’s not just Google that’s doing it: Amazon and Nook are pushing low costs on their tablets too. And that’s not to speak of the many nameless manufacturers trying to cut below even them. The market has spoken, and in the 7“ range at least, people want cheap tablets. And there’s a chance that in getting them, quality is going to suffer at least a little bit. And while the 10” market is a bigger unknown – the smaller 7–8" range is the hot market now with the iPad jumping in, and the Galaxy Note 10.1 is certainly well-advertised, but finding out just how many units its sold is not an easy endeavor, while Samsung touts the sales of the entire Galaxy Note line. The Nexus 10 is sold out on Google Play, but who knows how accurate that is. Maybe only 10 Nexus 10s were made. The fact that the Nexus 4 is still out of stock is still suspicious as compared to how fast they should be produced. Who knows.

The point is this: the 7“ market is the clear winner for Android, but people should not expect to be getting the absolute latest and greatest because of the demand for low prices. And a similar phone market is unlikely to develop long-term because phone subsidies on 2-year contracts bring prices into the range of 7” tablets. Heck, even Apple is underpowering the iPad Mini compared to the full-size line. That says a lot about what this market really is.

The Hills Are Greener: A PC Home For Android?

The Hills Are Greener: A PC Home For Android?

Jan 15, 2013

While Windows Phone still is kind of sauntering around in the background of the iOS and Android scene, waiting for an opening, it should not be ignored. Its App Store is growing and phones are selling. But there’s one particular aspect of it that long-term could have Windows 8 doing well: OS integration with Windows.

Yes, the big sexy trend is moving away from desktops and moving in to the mobile space, particularly with tablets. But Windows is definitely starting to make a move in to tablets, or at least with hybrid devices. And with the Windows 8 experience being more consistent across different devices, there’s the potential for Microsoft to use this to sell the OS on phones, tablet, or PCs, wherever appropriate.

It would be a move in the direction of Apple, who increasingly make their mobile OS and computers cross-compatible with one another. iCloud has helped to make Macs and the iPhone a more seamless experience. There’s definitely a lot more that could be done, yes, but it’s something Apple’s got a heads up on. If Microsoft does it well, they can sell Windows as a cohesive OS from the phone up, especially with the modern interface formerly known as “Metro” across different devices.

Because Android is not connected to a specific OS, there’s an inherent disadvantage. They can’t push that kind of deep-level integration that Apple and potentially Microsoft can. However, there is the advantage that by connecting to software like Chrome and web services like Google+ and its Instant Upload. Not to mention all the things like Gmail, Calendar, and Contacts that already exist in a cloud service capacity. Google has a heads up there. But internally-integrated solutions are as a general rule more user-friendly, and Google will always exist as an outside provider on these platforms.

Is there a chance that Windows integration just never plays out? Sure. Android could still be the biggest fish in the sea on mobile (as far as raw numbers go) without this kind of integration? Sure. Heck, the personal computer could be a dying concept for many people and so this won’t matter. Or perhaps Chrome OS is the next huge thing. But if not, this does come off as a potential point of weakness for Android.

The Hills Are Greener: Playing Ball

The Hills Are Greener: Playing Ball

Dec 17, 2012

It’s been a bad week for interoperability. First Instagram turned off support for Twitter Cards after Twitter had earlier shut down Instagram’s API access for finding friends. Then Google announced that they are largely shutting down Exchange ActiveSync access, keeping current connections open and keeping it for paid Google Apps accounts, but shutting down new connections for all other Google users. This is potentially perpetrated by the fact that Microsoft licenses several patents to Android hardware vendors, which Google is not fond of. So, they stop licensing the technology from Microsoft, and deal Windows Phone a blow as this was the main way that those phones would connect to Gmail. Now, users may be left without an alternate built-in solution.

It also has the secondary effect of removing push email for iOS users in the default Mail app. Now, they must either use fetch email or go to the official Gmail app. Sneaky move, Google.

There is a clear-cut problem with all these squabbles: users lose. Great features that people frequently used are being taken away not because of any kind of technical reason, but because those who offer the technologies are fighting like children over playing with each other’s toys.

The great thing about technology, especially platform-agnostic technology,, is that users are not bound to one service. They interconnect with each other, and it doesn’t matter where a user is sharing from, or what they are using: because these technologies are meant to work with each other, to allow others to contribute and take part, it is a better experience for users. And now, this is being threatened because of politics.

Well, that and money. Facebook and Twitter are clearly on opposing sides and, Twitter feels innately threatened by Instagram’s photo microblogging, which has at times been more popular on mobile than Twitter. Major revenue and profits are in play here.

But ultimately, the disturbing fact is this: while these companies and services are all-too-willing to build themselves on top of each other’s platforms and services, the second it becomes politically inconvenient, they’re willing to shut them off, and it’s the users that rely on these features that get caught in a lurch because of it.

The Hills Are Greener: Not Buying What Google’s Selling – Because They Can’t Sell It

The Hills Are Greener: Not Buying What Google’s Selling – Because They Can’t Sell It

Dec 3, 2012

Let’s compare the approach of Apple and Google.

So Google has a hot new phone on their hands. It’s been sold out for weeks. They finally get in, or at least release, new stock of their new phone. They announce when they’re selling it. It sells out in seconds. Literally: I’m sitting at my iPad shortly after I notice the clock turn to 2:00 pm central on a Tuesday afternoon, and the Nexus 4 is sold out. Already. And there’s no recourse, no preorder process for future batches, nothing. In short, if I want a Nexus 4, I’ve got to wait.

Now look at Apple’s website. Try to buy an iPhone from them. Why, they are quite happy to sell you an iPhone well in advance. They’ll give you an estimate of how long it’ll take to get your shiny new piece of Apple ephemera. They’ll even let you go to pick up your shiny new toy from an Apple Store if there’s one in stock. It works all too well.

I suppose that as a tech addict, it should fail to surprise anyone that I have an iPhone 5 now, considering that the unlocked one finally went on sale? Yup, I’m back on the dark side. Sure, it makes sense for me considering I also love doing iOS reviews, but I also admit that it was something of an impulse buy because I couldn’t get the Android phone I wanted. The Galaxy S III is still a really nice phone, but something was calling me elsewhere. The lure of a cleaner, stock experience, and if Google wasn’t going to give it to me, Apple was.

Now granted, in this situation of selling phones directly to customers, Google doesn’t have the kind of retail and e-commerce experience that Apple does. But still, to be in a position where people that want your product pretty much can’t buy it? It seems like a bad experience. It may build up hype, yes (their phone sold out in an amount of time best measured in seconds), but it’s also a bad experience for people who actually want the phone and not just the hype. And if the reports that Google’s probably backordered for a month during one of the biggest shopping periods, when people will be wanting new phones, are true? Well, it’s just a mess. Good for Google that they have a phone that people want, but they need more stock. They can provide it with the Nexus 7 – it’s time they do it with the 4 as well.

I’m still rocking my Nexus 7, as it is: it’s still a great tablet, after all. But it is weird, making the transition back to iOS as my primary phone and notification source. If only you could have sold me a Nexus 4, Google, I was ready!

The Hills Are Greener: The iPad Mini is Not an Android Killer

The Hills Are Greener: The iPad Mini is Not an Android Killer

Oct 29, 2012

So Apple announced the iPad Mini, and it is both exactly what we thought it would be and what we didn’t. It’s a 7.9″ iPad, but comes in at $329, well above the entry-level price of many 7″ Android tablets.

The strategy seems curious: make a smaller iPad, but tout it as being bigger than other smaller tablets. Don’t know how well that’s going to work. Also, since the screen isn’t Retina, it’s another downgrade from the full-size iPad, and technically has a worse PPI than the Nexus 7, and Kindle Fire HD.

The iPad Mini does seem like a half-measure at first, a device that won’t kill the Android tablet market on price while also not being the latest hardware. But Apple might not have wanted to undercut the iPod touch, and maybe even position the iPad 2 as a moderate upgrade.

But really, the big thing that Apple seems to be focused on here is quite simple: they can ‘win’ by making a profit off of the iPad Mini where the competition cannot. Google/Asus, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble are trying to expand out the reach of their music, video, and app libraries, and getting their tablets in as many hands as possible is very important. Apple already has that with iTunes. While there’s the possibility of another increase in iTunes downloads, it won’t have the kind of marginal value that the competition gets.

Maybe Apple realizes that they can’t kill Android tablets, much like how the Android phone market still exists alongside the iPhone market. But they can position themselves as a high-quality alternative to those tablets. They’ll be making a hefty profit by using mass-produced parts like the A5 chip, which power the iPhone 4S and iPad 2, 2011 devices that are still be produced, and also powers the iPod touch 5th generation. Oh, and by getting more people into the iPad market, they encourage more iPad apps to be made.

And maybe by getting cheaper, smaller iPads in people’s hands, Apple can expand their reach in education. The overall stability of the platform with wider selection of optimzized apps may be more appealing to schools looking to integrate the iPad. So Apple could make a product that will not kill the competition, but will make them plenty of cash. The early reports of preorders selling out is a sign of that.

But this is also a sign that Apple does see value in competing with their Android competition. Look at the way the Nexus 7, while unnamed, was constantly compared to in the presentation. Just the very existence of this product is a sign. The competition is having an impact on Apple and the iPad market.

The Hills Are Greener: By Design

The Hills Are Greener: By Design

Sep 24, 2012

iOS 6 is propagating on to iOS users’ devices now, along with coming pre-installed on the new iPhone 5. But there’s an interesting discussion trend coming up in all the discussion about it. Not just the Google Maps fiasco, but something visible yet invisible to many users: the design elements.

There seem to be complaints about the color of the status bar. It changes with some apps, usually to a blue hue. Safari is colored blue on the iPhone, but on the iPad, it’s still gray. The clock icon on the iPhone is not the same as the iPad clock icon, which is a new addition and possibly stolen. The phone keypad has changed. In general, with apps that use skeumorphism (elements that imitate reality) mixed in with apps that don’t, it’s what TheNextWeb describes as a “design diaspora.”

It’s curious, because design is Apple’s thing. It’s where their software and hardware are supposed to have an advantage, and it seems like at least from a critical perspective, it’s starting to shift away from Apple. That’s not to say that it’s shifting in favor of Android, especially with all the butchering that happens with TouchWiz, Sense, MotoBlur, et al. In fact, Android Police basically nails a list of grievances upon stock Android’s door in this article. Seriously, the back button thing annoys me too. But as mentioned in the article, there’s Mattias Duarte, snappy dresser and Senior Director of Android User Experience at Google, thinks Android’s UX is about 1/3 of where he wants it to be. Considering the major improvements made in Ice Cream Sandwich and Jelly Bean, this is a positive sign.

Apple may still be in flux with Steve Jobs gone, and maybe they still have some work to figure out what they need to do. There’s a chance iOS 7 could be a major overhaul and every criticism made now will wash away, and Android will look stodgy and clunky by comparison. Granted, Android’s always been an operating system where a little bit of neatness has been traded for the flexibility the OS offers. That gap feels like it’s closing, and Apple has a lot to do to keep it wide. Perhaps it’s in them, but what if it isn’t? Apple has been on top for a while, and no one in technology stays on top forever. IBM, Microsoft…who’s to say Apple isn’t next? If their standards start slipping, maybe their reign as top dog will.

Of course, it’s silly to imply this because the iPhone 5 is going to still sell like gangbusters, and preorders have been crazy. But something feels different. Even the iPhone 4S wasn’t all that different and reaction still seemed mostly positive. The reaction really might not be seen until a year or two from now, when people coming off of their contracts will start to maybe question whether they really want to keep with the iPhone, if the trends being perceived actually exist. And it all starts by design.

The Hills Are Greener: iPhone 5 and a Falling Apple?

The Hills Are Greener: iPhone 5 and a Falling Apple?

Sep 17, 2012

This is the first thing to be said about the iPhone 5: it is a capable phone, one that will make Apple more money than God – again – and should keep them at the top of the food chain for a while longer. But in following the events on and around the announcement, it was hard to sit there and not think that the once-mythical Apple had lost some of its luster.

The announcement itself was severely anti-climactic. Thanks to pretty much every detail leaking, nothing was a surprise. It was all an inevitability. Part of this is inevitable: Apple is a behemoth, and with all their hardware partners, something had to give. It’s hard to stay secret when everyone wants to know what’s being kept secret. Still, this could be part of what is lost with Steve Jobs gone, as Michael Jurewitz points out: Steve Jobs railed against leaks. The past year was full of them to the point that the biggest surprise was probably the new iPod nano (even a leak of the internals for the new iPod touch made it out at some point) that was announced.

But the other thing was that this felt more like Apple becoming reactive instead of proactive. The iPhone 5 is 16:9 only because they needed to make it bigger to keep pace with Android phones. They kept it about the same width to keep developers happy and for the ergonomic guidelines they set. So, it’s bigger, but still smaller than other flagship phones. They added a panorama mode to the camera, which is impressive due to the high-resolution stitching, but it’s also a pretty standard function now. New software features are coming to iOS 6, but most will be part of previous-generation hardware as well.

It’s got a more powerful processor for gaming, but of course it would have one. Better graphics are nice, but eepected. Many of the iOS 6 features will be useful, but we knew about most of those. There’s no NFC, a feature that Apple doesn’t appear to be interested in putting in until they have to. That’s not a forward-looking company; that feels like the kind of conservative company that Apple squarely is not. The Apple that announces the iPhone 5 doesn’t feel like the Apple that would have ever released the iPod, iPad, or the original iPhone in the first place because it was too much of a risk. The iPhone 5 is safe. Safe will sell, but the iPhone is still in a position to sell pretty much no matter what.

No, I’m not predicting the collapse of the iPhone and Apple. Not even close. But I willsay this: in the past two years, if you look at where Android and its hardware has come from compared to the iPhone, the software experience is getting much better, and there is some high-quality hardware being released. The iOS software experience feels like it’s barely changing. The hardware is thinner, lighter, and more powerful, sure. But still, it feels like the mysticism of Apple that has developed is wearing away. The iPhone feels practically conservative at this point, and for a product that was revolutionary (feel free to shout at me, #BoycottApple folks), it’s kind of sad to not be wowed in even the slightest by what Apple is doing. The company made its mark by not being conservative, and yet: they did exactly what was expected with the iPhone 5.

It seems silly to say that Android is clearly a bigger threat than ever when Apple’s going to probably make so much money our heads will spin, but history could note this as the first day of the decline of the iPhone as the status symbol of mobile phones, that it’s not the sole taste-maker any more.