The new Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone will have a stronger processor and a scratchproof screen, and it will be available with a larger 5.5 inch screen size. But, like any cheap watch or the Samsung Galaxy S5, it had better be waterproof. That may be simple, but it has become state of the art.
One problem iPhones have had in the past is that they were delicate. Screens broke, water seeped in. Phone replacement insurance was important, and so were cases to protect the phone from damage. Some of these, like the OtterBox, were heavier than the phone and turned it into a small brick.
One of the consumer satisfaction rules Apple routinely forgets is that complex features, an App Store with hundreds of thousands of apps, an advanced operating system and a stunning display do not always overcome basic customer requirements. Siri may be a reasonably good voice recognition service, and the iPhone may have lightning-fast processors, but a smartphone that has to be returned to a retail outlet or mailed in for basic service represents on angry person, or an angry IT division at a company. As Apple’s partnership with International Business Machines Corp. (NYSE: IBM) grows, a phone that does not operate because it has been out in the rain is a handicap.
Among the more important aspects of Apple CEO Tim Cook’s reign is that he appears more practical and flexible that Steve Jobs was. That is only natural. He is not a founder. He does not appear to be a creative genius. He knows how to buy back shares and manage supply chains. He is, in other words, more likely to think about the average consumer, and not the tech savvy customer who can use absolutely every feature of an iPhone. He is the kind of chief executive who understands that if a phone is not waterproof, it falls short of customer expectations.