iPhone 5: No More Than Meets the Eye?

By | Aug 16, 2012

There have been a lot of leaks showing (purported) images and details of the iPhone 5. Given Apple's penchant for secrecy, this is rather surprising. Conspiracy theorists have even argued that the images are a red herring, meant to add to the surprise when Apple releases a startling new design.

But one leading tech commentator offers an opposite theory: The leaks have been permitted (if not encouraged) in order to soften the blow when Apple's new latest and greatest turns out to be ... not much different from the iPhone 4. Why? Because smartphone technology and Apple's approach to smartphone design have reached substantial technological maturity.

If so, this may be disappointing to some consumers and many Apple zealots. But it could be good news for IT managers at midsize firms. Why? Because as these companies gear up for the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) era, stability will be a good thing, allowing IT to plan its BYOD response with greater confidence.

How Do You Redesign Perfection?

It has been a bull market for iPhone 5 leaks lately, in anticipation of a probable September debut. Images claiming to be development prototypes of the new iPhone abound. Some details, such as a taller form factor, have become accepted conventional wisdom.

Tech industry observer Farhad Manjoo, writing at Slate, finds this wave of leaks curious. Not only is Apple famously secretive about its developments, but CEO Tom Cook promised earlier this year to "double down" on secrecy. So why all the leaks?

One theory is that the new iPhone will offer major surprises, and the alleged leaks are a blind to throw us off. But, Manjoo suggests the reason is more likely to be the opposite: That the newest iPhone really won't be all that much different.

After all, how can it be? Smartphones are no longer a novelty, and for the near future, at least, their basic features are unlikely to change very much. This is even more the case, perhaps, for Apple devices, given Apple's miminalist design philosophy.

A gadget with a lot of twiddly bits offers the option of shifting them around and changing their details. But the iPhone offers little scope for such design gimmicks.

Maturity and Stability

All of this may make for a vague letdown for consumers, and an acute one for some Apple enthusiasts. But for the IT community, maturity in smartphone technology - Apple or otherwise - is a welcome development.

BYOD means that companies usually won't be responsible for providing mobile devices. But they will have to configure IT for those devices, providing apps, interfaces, and so forth. And this will be a lot easier to do and will have to be redone less frequently, as mobile device technology becomes more mature and stable.

This will be a big relief for IT managers ... until the next radical tech innovation (such as, perhaps, Google Glass) muscles its way into the mainstream.

This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.

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