With the hotly anticipated announcement of the next iPhone right around the corner, some parts of the technology media are once again navel-gazing about the world’s continuing love affair with Apple’s popular smartphone. It’s easy to see why so many are devoted consumers: the iPhone is a stellar example of a beautiful device that is highly functional. Long gone are the days where using high-tech tools were the sole domain of the unfashionably nerdy or productivity-obsessed workaholics, and there is no doubt who we have to thank for this change. But the eternal question is raised again: are we sacrificing function for form? Has the iPhone become of the stiletto heels of mobile devices?
Has Woo gone off the deep end?
Before you get the pitchforks and torches out, let me be clear: I’ve got nothing against stiletto heels. They are only one example in a sea of thousands that illustrated the “form over function” ideal, but they make for a handy and familiar analogy. Over time, the iPhone has become thinner because, let’s face it, chunky phones just aren’t “sexy” in today’s world. This had led to some interesting trends including antennae-gate, bend-gate, Touch disease, and the telling statistic that up to 1 in 4 of iPhones will suffer a cracked screen during their functional life, and that as many as 15% of all iPhone users are walking around with cracked screens rather than replacing them. What’s troubling is that an affordable, shatter-proof screen is readily available: use plastic instead of glass! But time and again, market research and testing shows that people don’t want plastic because it feels cheap, and right now, iPhones (and smartphones in general) are still very much a status symbol. Not that other smartphones aren’t seeing a similar trend in flawed design, but Apple is an easy, high-profile target that continues to market on its esthetics, and like a purebred pet with predisposition to genetic health issues, the iPhone could be evolving into a fragile, unsustainable extreme. How many more “flaw”-gates will people suffer through before demanding a more functional, practical smartphone? I still see a lot of stiletto heels out there.