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The iPhone 4 is finally here – but is it really worth the hype?

The new iPhone is here.

If you managed to escape the news through US commercials (where it’s already launched), Facebook, your fanboy friends’ incessant rambling, the lineup update barrage on twitter this morning, or even the recent “antenna gate” crisis, then I’m telling you now.  It has arrived.

As with the iPad and pretty much every Apple device before it, the Canadian release date has lagged behind the US. Today it finally landed in the Great White North and the regular lineups at the Apple stores, Best Buys, and the expected low grade hysteria as proud new owners begin to treat the new device like first born children was more than apparent.  But this time, it may not be entirely worth the hype.

Has the iPhone lost its mojo?

If you’re asking how I could be saying this, let’s start with a little light history lesson.

When the iPod came out, it completely changed the game.  Switching over from the Discman (probably the most trendsetting music player on the market at the time, if you’ll recall) to the sleek, intuitive, compact Apple MP3 player was a no-brainer.  Vastly superior form, function and cool-factor made it impossible for competitors to touch the product.  And Apple dominated the market.  Even today have you ever had a friend ask you for a docking station for their Zune??  Didn’t think so.

Much more recently, the iPad achieved this monumental shift once again, becoming the device that everybody had to have.  Nobody doubts Apple’s marketing.  It’s slick, it’s sexy and it makes you NEED to have whatever it is that they’re selling – and they’ve always backed that up with the best product on the market. But when it comes to the iPhone 4, that could actually be in question.

Coinciding with a less-than-favourable review from Consumer Reports after the antenna issue with the device, and a resulting stock price hit for Apple, a number of big device manufacturers have put out impressive new phones in recent weeks and months on the Android platform.  And with the Android App Store now growing closer to 100,000 apps and a DIY-app maker soon to hit the market (which might be the coolest development in the smartphone market, well… ever!), the iPhone is subtly losing its grip as the only choice for fashionable and functional mobile users.

YouTube Preview Image

So as the video rather aggressively illustrates, from a features standpoint, the only thing the iPhone seems to be hanging on to is the fact that it’s an iPhone.  But take a look around at a streetcar stop or at a concert or just walking down the street and you’ll realize that the cache of the device is dwindling too.  South of the border, discerning geek-chic smartphone users and general fashion trendsetters are flocking to the Android phones – and for good reason.  Rapidly improving functionality, hardware power, app availability, special features, and in many cases, a keyboard with actual keys are helping the Google gang to close the gap at blazing speed.

The iPhone is a great phone.  It’s changed the way a lot of people think about phones and, even to some extend, how they live their lives.  But it’s time as undisputed king of the smartphone world is over.  Don’t get me wrong, the iPhone 4, in spite of its antenna problem, will be a great phone to own.  It’s just that, possibly for the first time, from the standpoints of form, function and even cool-factor, there might be something even better.

So what do you think?  Is the iPhone 4 on your must-buy list?  Are you waiting to see what others think?  Maybe eyeing and Android?  Or are you reading this from the line at the Apple store right now??  I’m curious to hear your thoughts…

  • http://twitter.com/kenseto Ken Seto

    You didn't see the response video? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UAOtC9QfXac&feat…

    ;)

  • http://www.nitch.ca Andrew Lane

    Definitely saw the response but that just proves that the products are competitive – something that couldn't be said about previous versions of the iPhone!

  • http://dan.misener.org/ Dan Misener

    You say, “from a features standpoint, the only thing the iPhone seems to be hanging on to is the fact that it’s an iPhone.”

    To focus on features is to miss the point. In the words of Dan Saffer: “Features will eventually be copied and become obsolete. Right now, someone is out there copying your features! But the experience of using your product is significantly harder to duplicate.”

    So…

    “The only thing the iPhone seems to be hanging on to is the fact that it’s an iPhone.”

    Exactly.

  • http://www.nitch.ca Andrew Lane

    This is why I need to hire an editor for my blog – good call, Dan!

  • Greg Greene

    There is a great episode on the iphone 4 in this season's Futurama. Moms Friendly Robot Company gets everyone using the “eye phone” turning them into zombies for the express purpose of… buying the next eye phone.