For months now there has been rampant speculation about a new iPhone coming down the pipeline; while little in the way of “official” information has been released, there have been plenty of leaks to the press, and we can all safely assume that the iPhone 6 will indeed hit shelves in just a few weeks’ time.
With the pending release of the next generation of iPhones, many Apple prognosticators are focused on this question: Will the iPhone 6 be a success?
My answer: It depends on how you define success.
For many, of course, success will be measured purely in terms of sales. If Apple sells a boatload of new iPhones, then sure, it’s a success. I don’t necessarily disagree with this thinking, and if this is the basis we’re using, then I think we can go ahead and call it: Yes, Apple will sell an awful lot of new devices, and yes, the iPhone 6 will be, by this measure, a success.
Not everyone will define success in these terms, though. There are many who so closely associate Apple with innovation—with the astonishing breakthroughs of the iPod and the original iPhone—that any new device needs to be a game-changer in order for it to truly be considered a win for the company.
If this is your metric then the iPhone 6 may come up short. The original iPhone is the most disruptive device of the last 200 years, but Apple can’t be expected to come up with a breakthrough like that every time. I don’t think Apple is close to something of that magnitude, and I don’t think any other company is, either.
Here’s my standard: The iPhone 6 will be a success if it feels good. That’s really what matters. Apple isn’t going to reinvent the wheel, and doesn’t need to. What it needs to do is give us a better, faster device that feels natural when you hold it in your hands. That’s what people care about.
I think Apple generally does a great job with this. There are aesthetic and practical senses in which Apple products nearly always seem right—making the rare misstep then, like the original round mouse, stands out all the more. I personally think the iPhone 4 is still the one that feels the best—the newer ones are just a little too large for me—but if the majority of people think this new iPhone feels good, comfortable, and natural, then that’s what counts.
I believe the new iPhone will almost surely be a big success for Apple—but it’s important for us to think about exactly what that means.