Thursday, September 29, 2011

iPhone 5: 'Most Revolutionary User Interface in History'

Steve Jobs with iPhone 4 (Image via Wikipedia)

Apple’s plans to introduce the iPhone 5 on Oct. 4 have spawned a huge wave of the typical informed speculation, trendy rumor, and uninformed innuendo that precede every Apple announcement, but I want to share the most-intriguing report I’ve heard.

Forbes - What makes it worth repeating is that it comes from an Apple follower and investor named Jason Schwarz, whose commentary over the past few years about Apple and its strategy, products, and financial performance have been exemplary. Not long after the original iPhone debuted in 2007—and this was way back in the days before Apple had become the most highly valued company on the planet—Schwarz was perhaps the first advisor to proclaim (and he did so loudly and repeatedly) that Apple’s breakthrough smartphone was triggering an enduring wave of mobile innovation that would push Apple’s stock price up to and past $300.

With that backdrop, I’ve come to place a fair amount of trust in Schwarz’s analyses of Apple, which this time around include some jaw-dropping claims about the power of the iPhone 5’s new voice technology (and before I insert this excerpt from Schwarz’s analysis, bear in mind that this guy is an investor and investment advisor and that he holds long positions on Apple):

At the original iPhone event in January 2007, Steve Jobs stated, ‘We are all born with the ultimate pointing device-our fingers-and iPhone uses them to create the most revolutionary user interface since the mouse.” Well, I would add that we’re also born with the ultimate communication tool-our voice-and iPhone is about to create the most revolutionary user interface in the history of technology (emphasis added). I expect that this voice assistant will quickly make its way into laptops and desktops as well. Apple’s competitive advantage is widening by the day. (End of excerpt.)

That’s quite a claim. And Schwarz makes such an audacious forecast because he believes the iPhone 5’s new capabilities will create for Apple a breakthrough level of competitive advantage in its battle with Google: “Voice search, rather than browser based search, could prove to be a real threat to Google’s dominance,” he writes. And here’s how that could play out, thanks to Apple’s acquisition last year of the Siri voice-assistant technology:

The Siri voice control system allows users to instruct the iPhone to ‘send a text message to Jason Schwarz asking him meet me for lunch’. Think about this capability in terms of safety. We all know that too many drivers send and receive text messages, now they will be able to safely operate an iPhone in the car. The voice assistant adds a layer of intelligence as well. If I ask my iPhone to ‘call Dad’ it might ask me whether it should dial his home phone or his mobile. It is also able to perform Web based search functions such as ‘book a table for two at 9:00 tonight’ or ‘send a taxi to my house’. Siri worked with Citysearch, Opentable and Taxi Magic before the Apple acquisition.(End of excerpt.)

For CIOs and the mobile workforces trying to deliver real-time insight and decision-making to the point of the customer, any additional layer of intelligence can truly be a game-changer as rapidly growing numbers of professionals begin to rely on smartphones and tablets as their primary computing device.

In fact, with these reported new capabilities for the iPhone 5, we shouldn’t be surprised if Apple, during its earnings call on Oct. 18, is able to report that it’s come even closer to having 100% of the Fortune 500 testing or deploying its mobile products. The most-recent corresponding numbers reported by Apple in late July were in the mid-80’s.

But even having made his claim that iPhone 5 will include “the most revolutionary user interface in the history of technology,” Schwarz made yet another remarkable forecast in his piece called ‘Let’s Talk’ iPhone 5 Is a Game Changer. After touting the iPhone 5’s implications for Apple’s iCloud business and highlighting how trends in mobile retention rates are favoring Apple over its competitors, Schwarz says he expects Apple to double the total number of iPhones it sells in the fourth quarter of this year compared to last year’s Q4:

After witnessing 142% unit growth for the iPhone in Apple’s most recent quarter, we believe that the upcoming iPhone 5 will command a similar growth trajectory in the holiday quarter. Last year Apple sold 16.24 million iPhones, this year we expect they will sell at least 32.48 million units. (End of excerpt.)                     More