iPhone 4: The industry speaks out
Most of the comments about Mr Jobs' new plaything to have emerged since its unveiling have been from a handful of tech websites, ourselves included, or mobile operators who are carrying it.
However, any major technology announcement, Apple or otherwise, often has a far-reaching knock-on effect in other areas of the entertainment/tech industry. After all, many of those who aren't directly involved will still be keen to provide apps, docks, or, even, abstain.
We spoke exclusively to several key experts in their field, in each of the key areas for the iPhone 4's potential success or failure, in order to find out if the new device is up their alley. This is what they had to say...
Other than Apple itself, the iPhone 4's success depends largely on the people who sell it. That's why we talked to Carphone Warehouse, one of the carriers and of the new handset, and flag bearers for the previous generations.
Graham Stapleton, chief commercial officer, The Carphone Warehouse: “[The] announcement of the iPhone 4 is a very exciting development for smartphones. According to our research, this year smartphone growth is expected to increase by 17.4m units in Western Europe, creating a very competitive and lucrative market".
"While we know there’s still a very loyal Apple fanbase amongst our customers, recently Android handsets have been proving more and more popular. Therefore, it was crucial for Apple to come back with a phone that could compete with this success and I think that’s exactly what it’s done".
"The improvements on battery life and ability to multi-task are two very big steps for the iPhone, and will certainly be a big plus point for those who have been reluctant to use [one] in the past".
"Video-calling and the addition of a gyroscope mark more firsts for Apple and help it to maintain its position as one of the most innovative technology companies out there. Finally, the improved camera with flash will, once again, make the iPhone one of the best all round multi-media devices on the market”.
While it was clearly a targeted strategy, it still came as a surprise that the iPhone 3G, and specifically the 3GS, has taken a large share of the handheld gaming sector. Certainly, it seems to have affected sales of the PSP. So it's vital for the expansion of the new generation that it pampers to gamers' demands.
Guy Cocker, editor, Gamespot UK: "From a gaming perspective, the biggest upgrade on the iPhone 4 seems to be the sharper display and the enhanced motion sensitivity. A sharper display means better quality graphics, which is something that is important to a lot of hardcore gamers, although they’re perhaps not the ones that play a lot of games on the iPhone.
"The motion sensitivity upgrade is interesting, because it’s not something I’ve personally wanted improving on the device - the notion of tilting the machine away from my eyes has always seemed rather counter-intuitive. Motion controls work well on the Wii, because the display remains still, but tilting and shaking the iPhone hampers the visual feedback required for most games.
"That said, the new controls will definitely benefit driving games, which have been a popular genre on the iPhone, and Super Monkey Ball, which I always felt could have been improved with better accelerometers.
"I think the thing a lot of gamers such as myself have wanted is a way of adding tactile buttons to the machine - I’m not sure how it would work, but this would certainly improve games like GTA: Chinatown Wars and Street Fighter IV. While the touchcreen has always been the iPhone’s biggest asset, the lack of control pad/buttons on the iPhone 4 will still make traditional games rather cumbersome. However, iPhone developers are a talented bunch - just look at the Rolando series - and I’m sure they’ll come up with some inventive new ideas based on the latest iPhone technology".
Although the traditional swathe of brands will be making all manner of iPhone 4 accessories, docks, et al, it is the hi-fi and AV equipment manufacturers that have relatively recently started seeing the potential of integration. Compatibility with household kit will be a major selling point for any phone/MP3 player.
Marty Kashiwai, Product Planning Department, Onkyo: "Onkyo is particularly excited about the iPhone 4's new HD video capability.
"We were the first major hi-fi/AV brand in the world to produce a dedicated, licensed iPod dock to go alongside our mini hi-fi and home cinema systems, so we can see that the ability to replay HD video from such a well-connected portable device opens up all sorts of new home entertainment possibilities.
"We're going to have to sit down and take a hard look at how we can take full advantage of this remarkable new device's talents".
The custom installer
When it comes to touchscreen controls, the home cinema installation market has been dabbling with them for years. In-wall control systems have been on the market for a considerable while, as have on-table remotes. However, the costs have always been high and the take-up niche. The iPhone has truly been a game changer since its launch, with remote control apps, could the fourth gen device follow suit?
Mark Craven, deputy editor, Home Cinema Choice: ‘"In the world of home cinema entertainment, the launch of the iPhone 4 is somewhat less important than that of the iPad.
"We’re keen to see touchscreen control of our home cinema systems, and Apple’s products are already making dedicated controllers (such as those from Crestron) look decidedly overpriced and behind-the-times, but it’s obvious that the size of the iPad compared to the iPhone makes it a better fit in this regard – plus you don’t want your phone to ring during the middle of an all-night Lord of the Rings Blu-ray session.
"However, the addition of six-axis motion sensoring in the iPhone 4 already has us pondering how it could be used in a home cinema environment – and hopefully we’ll see that on the iPad 2".
The concept of watching TV, football and movies through a mobile phone is becoming more and more attractive to users, so broadcasters are vital for streaming content live or otherwise. They also need to develop custom applications to do so, thanks to Apple's Flash-phobia. However, they seem to be happy to comply.
A Sky spokesperson: "As a leader in mobile content, we are excited about the continued advances being made in relation to the video capabilities of mobile devices. Better processing power coupled with higher resolution screens allow us to provide an even richer TV experience on the move."
Bar the carriers, Apple itself, and the external retailers, the app developers are essential to the success of the iPhone 4. In many ways, making calls has become a secondary function on other iPhones (at least, since the 3G and 3GS arrived), and apps are the focal point of everything Apple does in the mobile sector.
So, will this iPhone 4 get the support of the app developers? Of course it will...
JP May, app developer of the hugely innovative Padracer: "The critical thing is the gyro - it changes everything. In fact, we've registered 'gyroracer.com' already! The gyro changes absolutely everything. The accelerometer is good, but having a gyro is HUGE.
"I have a physics background so it's massive - it changes everything for games. We cannot wait to work on one. Everything else on the iPhone 4 is trash. the two cameras are great IF it works out, but how many people have tried video conferencing?
"So the only real feature is the gyroscope, which is spectacular. It will completely change everything about gaming on all devices. The fact is, every other sort of device, game console, Nintendo, etc, will all have to add gyros now. Apple has set the stage.
"The big annoyance now is that the PAD does not have gyros. They've got to add that to the pad straight away".
So there you have it; clear, mostly unbounded enthusiasm from nigh-on all of the import areas of the industry who will help craft the iPhone 4's future. Except one. You. The customer.
That's what it really boils down to, how you feel about the phone and whether you're willing to part with your hard-earned shekels on 24 June or beyond. That, at the end of the day, is the crunch.
Let us know what you think below...
Check out our iPhone 4 homepage for all the latest coverage.