iPhone 5 lands and QE3 hits the shore

iphone5 bernanke-qe3

Now that the dust has settled on the new iPhone 5 and on QE3, they both felt like non-events. They both turned out to be everything they were rumoured to be, of which the most prominent aspects were that of the iPhone 5 having a 4 inch screen and QE3 being open-ended.

The effects of QE3 are well understood – in the long run, US Dollar will fall (unless everyone else prints money as quickly) and correspondingly commodity prices will rise. Beyond that there’s actually not much to talk about.

On the other hand, the iPhone 5 is interesting. It shows that no human dominion stands forever. Apple was (still is) so big it had a stranglehold on the latest and greatest technology, such as the Retina display and Thunderbolt, whereby they were the first to showcase such hardware. With the iPhone 5 though, it’s apparent that Apple no longer has such an advantage. The hardware is nothing to shout about – other phones now have higher pixel density (and bigger screen sizes of course) and probably better processing power (this is pure speculation, since Apple hasn’t revealed the specs of the A6 processor). This shows that Apple has to bank purely on its platform/ecosystem (and maybe its patented design/software) to win/defend its market share.

I predict that what allowed Apple to succeed with the iPhone will also be the reason for its downfall – the fixed screen resolution. With only a fixed resolution to cater to, apps can render their user interface perfectly all the time, much like developing a website for a specific browser only. However, between technology advances whereby pixel density doubles (as in the case of moving from iPhone 3 to 4), Apple has to stick to its existing resolution (width of 640 pixels) to make sure existing apps aren’t broken (which is the case with the iPhone 5), while the competition pulls ahead by taking on any resolution the display technology affords at the time. The popularity of phablets demonstrates that there is indeed a market for phones with larger-than-usual screens. While it is true that a user interface framework that targets different resolutions (i.e. rendering done at run time) will never look as good as one that targets a fixed resolution (rendering already made optimal at compile time), i believe it is possible for the framework to be improved to a point whereby users find the rendering sufficiently attractive. This is where Apple may lose out over time, unless they overhaul their platform. Just my two cents.

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