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The Larger iPhone Screen IS Part of the Experience: A Tim Cook Rebuttal

Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S

[Galaxy Nexus vs. iPhone 4S, courtesy of The Verge]

I realize from the outset that this article will receive the disapproving scorn of die-hard Apple fans who cannot stand to see either Tim Cook or the company criticized or corrected on a tech site. Since this is an Android site, please know that we Apple fans here will both applaud and criticize Apple at times – so please, do not write a comment blasting me because of my words against Apple. Your blasting response is already foreknown and expected. It will have little impact.

With that out of the way, let me address the topic at hand: that of Tim Cook’s words to the press recently. Appearing at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference, Tim Cook had some words about the industry and Apple’s quality products. The following is a small portion of Cook’s words about the possibility of a larger iPhone screen and Apple’s future products:

“I don’t want to ay what we will do or won’t do [regarding a larger screen for the iPhone], and so don’t interpret anything I say along those lines. Let me go back and compare it to the PC industry for a minute. The PC industry over the years, the way that companies competed were two things; specs and price. And so people would want to say, ‘I’ve got the largest drive,’ or, ‘I’ve got the fastest processor,’ or in the camera business people began to say, ‘I’ve got the most megapixels.’

The truth is, customers want a great experience, and they want quality. They want that ‘Aha!’ moment each time that they use the product. And that’s rarely a function of any of those things. These are things that technology companies invent because they can’t have a great experience, and so they talk about the spec of something” (Tim Cook, Tim Cook: For IPhones, The Experience Is Key, Not Just A Larger Screen).

The bold emphasis above in Tim Cook’s quote is mine, and I take responsibility for emboldening the above statement. I think to some extent, Tim Cook is right: it is true that some companies talk about their specs in order to boost the image of their product. Often, when a product is shoddily made, a company or manufacturer will focus on one feature and blot out the big picture (the entire product as a whole) altogether. The entire overall feature and specification experience is important, and each spec or feature influences the overall user experience – whether good or bad.

Yet and still, Apple is no different from any other company: it too, talks up the specs of its iPhone whenever the company launches a new-generation smartphone. Apple talks about the iPhone’s camera and its “f/2.4 aperture,” or its “4.0-inch display,” or its “Retina display” and screen resolution, as well as its “faster, thinner, and lighter” product with a “faster processor” and “long battery life.” When Apple wanted to hype up its iPad Mini tablet against the Nexus 7, Apple compared its additional viewing screen to the Nexus 7’s viewing screen – and claimed that iPad Mini users would receive more screen for their money than Nexus 7 users.

To agree with Tim Cook, consumers want a great experience and an exceptional quality; at the same time, specifications and features either make or break user experience. For example, if a smartphone screen is small, it will affect users because many will squint in order to view a movie, television show, or video on a small smartphone screen. Apple’s iPhone screen displays have lacked in their dimensions when compared to the displays of other smartphones. Apple’s 3.5-inch displays (now 4 inches with the iPhone 5) are still small when compared with the likes of the Nexus 4 (4.7 inches), the Galaxy S3 (4.8 inches), or phones such as the LG Optimus G, Optimus Pro (with a reported 5.5-inch display), and the Galaxy S4 (5.0-inch display). While large screens are not everything, they are as important as Apple’s A6 or A6X processor chip, and they matter just as much as making the iPhone 20% thinner or lighter than before (one of the stats for the iPhone 5). Downplaying the importance of a large viewing screen is the tactic of a company that has spent too long on its own specs and features that constitute a portion of the user experience as well.