Column: Rob Kurver, CEO and Co-Founder Voipro, CBM, October 2012
Apple’s introduction of its latest iPhone this year came as no surprise. The size and weight — to the micrometer and milligram — had been carefully leaked, and the accompanying iOS 6.0 was really a minor release; certainly not a major one. Compared to Samsung’s recent phones, it’s not exciting at all. Slightly bigger, slightly thinner, slightly lighter, and slightly longer life. and Siri now even knows the sports scores. Presented by Tim Cook; the iPhone 5 extremely capable but certainly not sexy or exciting. And yet… it’s the most revolutionary phone in years! The initial reaction among fans was pretty negative. No curved glass? No holographic 3D screen? Maps that don’t work as well? No standard YouTube? It doesn’t even make coffee! This is what we’ve been waiting for all these years? And we’re expected to line up all night in our sleeping bags?
The brilliant part is that it’s not a surprise. The iPhone 5 is exactly what everyone expected. It appeals so completely to the gigantic target group which is not in search of the new and revolutionary, but the safe and familiar: the early and late majority — also known as the masses. In the first twenty-four hours, two million had been ordered; twice as many as for its predecessor one year prior. That’s about a billion in turnover — something like a world record. So someone is doing something right.
As dull and predictable as the iPhone may be, it’s revolutionary because it supports LTE, also known as 4G. It’s the next generation after the 3G mobile network. The idea behind it is that it’s fast and powerful enough to make the mobile phone comparable with its wired counterpart. Finally, truly fast enough for interactive games and communication using IP. No more need for separate mobile and landline numbers or every kind of complex link that let your mobile phone work on the company PBX. No, you just use your iPhone as your business phone where you receive all your calls, no matter where you are. Including all the cleverness of the landline PBX, complete with hosted voice. Just like the iPhone 5, LTE is actually more an example of evolution than revolution. Existing services work better, faster, more pleasantly, and more interactively. The one revolutionary aspect is that VoIP may well work with it, offering the same quality as we have grown accustomed to on the wired Internet. It doesn’t work all that well on 3G and, very simply, it doesn’t work at all with telephony.
The worldwide roll-out of LTE is moving fast. Now that there’s finally an iPhone that supports it, it is expected to kick into high gear. For a long time, it was more or less a chicken-and-egg question. Handset makers were waiting for networks to appear and the network roll-out was waiting for a business case with active users and equipment. In this way, the iPhone — complete with all its dullness and predictability, and which everyone is copying — is providing the necessary push to roll out LTE worldwide. The convergence of wired and wireless can now take place. This, in turn, will result in new services and possibilities. That’s what make evolution extremely revolutionary.
You can read the article in CBM (in Dutch).