Goal Post

Seems so strange that pretty much everyone seems to be having so much difficulty explaining the larger screen on the iPhone 5. Most people think Apple it just caving to competition or admitting they were wrong and the 3.5″ was too small all along.

John Gruber, the one guy I assumed would figure this out is just as befuddled as everyone else:

So the question is, if a 4-inch 16:9 display is better than a 3.5-inch 3:2 display, why hasn’t the iPhone been using 4-inch 16:9 displays from the start? Cost must have been a factor. Bigger screens are more expensive, and the 2007 iPhone display was like nothing else on the market. Bigger displays also consume more power. But I think it’s really mostly about a subtle change in priorities, a reordering of the tradeoffs — and, let’s face it, a response to marketing pressure from the aforementioned bigger-seems-better retail showroom factor.

This is really very simple. The goal post has moved. What makes a great smartphone today is not the same thing that made a great smartphone in 2007. Here are a couple of things people aren’t talking about:

  • A lot more people are watching a lot more video on their phones now
  • A lot more people are reading a lot more books on their phones
  • And there was one more thing, oh yeah, there are hundreds of thousands of more apps for the iPhone now than there were five years ago. Maybe adding an extra row of apps to the screen would help.

Parameters change, needs change, people change and great design changes to satisfy these changes.

While I’m at it, here are some other things I can help to clear up for John:

Along the lines of can’t-really-be-answered-but-gosh-they’re-fun-to-ponder questions like, say, “Who’d win in a fight, Batman or Spider-Man?” or “Star Destroyer vs. U.S.S. Enterprise?

Batman has far superior tactics and strategies so he would be the favorite in a fight with Spider-Man. Unless Batman knew he was going to – or could potentially – fight Spider-Man. In this case, Spidey wouldn’t have a chance. Batman is the guy who, with a bit of planning, beat up Superman. You really think a spider is going to get him?

Star Destroyer vs, Enterprise? Ok, imagine this:

The bridge of the Enterprise
“Lt. Worf, full spread of photon torpedoes please…”
“And while you’re at it, beam the bridge crew of the Star Destroyer into space….”
“And in their place, beam some more photon torpedoes onto that now empty bridge.”
“And if by some slim chance, if they give us any trouble, jump to warp nine and we’ll come back to finish them off later.”

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