Apple: I Bought an iPhone 5S and I Don't Care How Many Bits It Has
Apple's success has nothing to do with technical specifications and everything to do with the user experience.
If you read my review of the Logitech (NASDAQ:LOGI) Ultimate Ears Mini Boom wireless Bluetooth speaker, then you know that I'm a terrible parent to my electronics gear.
My Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone 4S really suffered under my terrible caretaking skills, having been dropped (with no case, of course) more times than I'd like to remember, and it even found itself under running water a couple of times.
But it stuck with me through 25 months of ups and downs before the battery really started to go.
Since my AppleCare warranty had just run out and I was due for an upgrade from Verizon (NYSE:VZ), on Sunday, I sprung for a new iPhone 5S at the Grand Central Apple store in NYC.
Let me summarize why I stuck with Apple instead of going over to the dark side:
1. iOS 7 is very user-friendly and easy on the eyes.
2. I always get great help at the Apple Store.
3. Using iCloud meant my information would get rapidly sucked over to my new phone, a seamless upgrade.
4. I already own an Apple iMac.
And what did I not care about?
The fact that the A7 processor is 64-bit.
Yes, the iPhone 5S is amazingly fast and responsive, but so were plenty of 32-bit based smartphones like the Samsung (OTCMKTS:SSNLF) Galaxy S4 and HTC (OTCMKTS:HTCXF) One.
Now don't give me that malarkey about how well the 5S did on all those benchmark tests.
I don't know about you, but when I pick up my phone, I don't run benchmark tests.
Like most people, I listen to music and podcasts, surf the Internet, use social networks, watch videos on YouTube, and play some games -- tasks that all modern smartphones are quite capable of handling.
As Mike Schuster wrote, Qualcomm's (QCOM) now-former CMO Anand Chandrasekher found himself in hot water after calling the A7 a marketing gimmick. After all, there wasn't much software that could take advantage of its power.
But I guess that wasn't really a tenable position to take in public, given that, 1) Apple is a big Qualcomm customer, and 2) Qualcomm would inevitably produce its own 64-bit chips.
And on December 9, Qualcomm did announce a 64-bit variant of its Snapdragon processor.
The plot thickened yesterday when blogger Dan Lyons reported some damaging comments made by a Qualcomm insider:
64 Bits Means Nothing
"The roadmap for 64-bit was nowhere close to Apple's, since no one thought it was that essential," the Qualcomm insider says. "The evolution was going to be steady. Sure, it's neat, it's the future, but it's not really essential for conditions now."
But once Apple introduced a 64-bit processor, all the other phone-makers wanted one too. "Apple kicked everybody in the [male organ] with this. It's being downplayed, but it set off panic in the industry."
I'm an Apple shareholder and customer, and I just can't see how the fact that the A7 is 64-bit is a big deal.
Listen, sooner or later, someone, whether it's Qualcomm or Samsung or NVIDIA (NASDAQ:NVDA), is going to come up with a rival processor that's even faster than the A7. With Apple announcing new iPhones just once per year, it is incapable of maintaining these types of technological leads.
And guess what happens when every smartphone manufacturer has a smartphone running a 64-bit processor?
The 64-bit processor loses the very tiny marketing value it had.
And what really matters, the Apple experience -- which includes brilliant software and hardware design, and outstanding retail operations -- will still be going strong.
Forget the concept of more!
The iPhone 5S' runaway success has nothing to do with specifications and everything to do with offering a high-quality, differentiated user experience. Maybe it wouldn't be as fast with a 32-bit processor, but like its predecessors and the competition, it would be more than fast enough for most people. And it would sell just fine.
You see, there's a problem with catering to folks who want the "best" as measured by a CPU speed or a benchmark test -- they're loyal to numbers, not brands.
And if you know anything about Apple fans, they're buying into an experience, not silly spec sheets.
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