When it comes to consumer electronics, there seems to be a penchant that we as consumers have for products that are so innovative, they are deemed disruptive. In the last decade, the iPhone launch seemed to really put that on display.  A device that was marketed and positioned so well, you couldn’t really deny its existence.  Apple’s mantra for the iPhone was that they wanted to “reinvent the phone.”  

The overall design choices including the singular home button, being a widescreen iPod and an intuitive basic user interface that used your fingers instead of a stylus was touted by Steve Jobs during the MacWorld keynote speech in 2007.  Jobs was incredibly deliberate with his message, saying that the iPhone was the greatest iPod ever made.  He showed off the ability to access iTunes, he introduced Safari with its ability to view real webpages and random access voicemail A.K.A visual voicemail as well.  

That keynote really turned the world of consumer electronics on its ear.  If for nothing else, it made everyone stand and notice of Apple as one of, if not the best, sales and marketing companies in the world.

For all the amazing and “magical” things that iPhone did, what was equally as amazing was what it couldn’t do compared to its competitors.  Of note:

  • The original iPhone couldn’t send picture messages via MMS (it took 3 generations of iPhone before you could do that and flip phones had the capability for years).  
  • Couldn’t use 3G networks and lacked A-GPS functionality (both came with the iPhone 3G).  
  • Was only available on one network in the US (although that was positioned to be an exclusive, Apple met with Verizon originally who nixed the idea). 
  • The device was expensive.  The price of the 4GB version was $499 with a 2 year contract and $599 for the 8GB (the BlackBerry Curve was $299 on contract). 
  • It didn’t support expandable media or had a removable battery (neither feature exists in iPhones to this date).  

With all that being said, Apple won over the “mindshare” of people.  It didn’t need to win the spec sheet war with the iPhone, Apple sold the idea that the phone will always be easy to use and highly optimized and always state of the art.  

With respect to present day, every time there’s a major product announcement, there’s something in me that hopes to see something that challenges the way we view technology.  I thought that I would feel that special way about Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/ Holographic devices but the practical application for devices that literally take you away from reality seems to make this class of devices a non-starter.  Smartphone releases tend to be more iterative than innovative these days, the same could be said about tablets.  

While I’m not sure when we’ll ever seen another truly disruptive product launch, personally I hope that the next big thing with consumer electronics has to do with automation in the home.  We are entering a point where we use our devices everywhere we go.  We allow these devices to be rather pervasive with our everyday lives with varying degrees of productivity.  It’s with that understanding that we find the greatest opportunity: enriching our lifestyles with the technology we already own in a ubiquitous fashion.  

Imagine being able to add sensors to your cutlery and dining ware that would allow you to accurately track your caloric intake per meal or alert you that your food isn’t at its optimal temperature via text message.  How about home theater systems that could poll the heart rate information from your fitness band to play music that aligns with your mood?  The possibilities are completely endless and can have a lasting impact on how we view all technology, going forward.  The next disruptive innovation could very well lead us to a point where technology never interrupts us.  

Video courtesy of Apple.

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