Will Apple Stay On Top Of Technology's S-Curve?

Brian Cooper
Apple's staff must surely get bonuses for leaking nowadays.

Apple's staff must surely get bonuses for leaking nowadays. The drip-feeding, the speculation and finally the reveal have all kept the developed world on its toes. The iPhone X's launch strategy got people talking, but what does the actual product mean - not just for Apple, but for tech as a whole?

When it launched in 2007, the original iPhone shot to the top of technology's S-curve. This wave that tech inhabits is a clear, four-stage process that most designs follow. It's a lifeline that begins at research and development, allowing a brand to extend its feelers and find its niche; ascension comes next, in Apple's case in the form of iOS-optimised apps and content driving users to the iPhone; maturity follows, with a product's improvements becoming increasingly incremental... much like the iPhone, its jump from 6 to 7 being heralded as "not reinventing the wheel, but the very best of what it can currently be" by HuffPost.

The fourth and final twist of the S-curve has yet to thwart the iPhone. Discontinuity comes for most models, and the frantic pace of technological advancement in recent years has seen once-futuristic consoles like the Nintendo Wii being seen as awfully old-hat in 2017.

A new name should've knocked Apple to the bottom of the S-curve by now, Mufasa-style. Samsung's Galaxy Note 8 looked promising with its iris scanning technology, and while seemingly ground-breaking, it's easily hackable.

The Google Pixel 2 could be a contender, but with its release still a month or so away (apparently), we'll have to wait and see.

But the point about the iPhone X, the reason why it's infatuated everyone with an internet connection, is because it refuses to plummet down the S-curve. It continues to innovate in a magpie-like manner.

The Galaxy 8's iris scanner was essentially a technological tiller: a tried-and-tested design applied to a new technology, wrongly thinking it will work. It was a nice idea but it wasn't the game-changer it promised to be.

Apple has taken this misstep and applied it to its own product, following in Microsoft's footsteps with Windows 10's facial recognition. The iPhone X's facial recognition capabilities are similar, using 3D and infrared to ensure increased security. Yes, FaceID failing during Craig Federighi's demo was a bit of a hitch, but it soon worked on the backup phone. The point being: it takes face recognition that's already been used by Microsoft and melds it into Apple's landscape.

The same can be said for the phone's augmented reality camera capabilities. Hopping onto what Pokémon Go did for immersive gaming, Apple's latest coup with ARKit essentially takes this and applies it to something functional. Their app with IKEA, Place, is just the tip of the iceberg, allowing users to 'trial' the furniture in the comfort of their own homes.

Following this, Apple's Maps app in its classic form may fall to the bottom of the S-curve, but the iPhone itself remains king/queen here - it's not invented anything new, per se, rather just taken AR into the mainstream in a functional manner.

Some of this stuff doesn't fall under the bracket of technology advancing to help the human race in its quest for convenience - some of it's just really fun. The 3D camera allows for deeper personalisation with Animojis: emojis with your facial tics integrated. Because who doesn't want their face stamped on a smiley piece of poo?

The question that becomes apparent through all of this: is the iPhone X just another kind of tiller?

AI, AR and VR possibilities are advancing all the time, leading down a multitude of avenues. For example, over half of Indian-based companies using AI are beyond the pilot and test stage - they're actually able to use the tech at scale. This has led to Indian workers' jobs being threatened by robots - what's to say rival tech can't usurp Apple, too?

Because all it really has to do is improve upon the latest iPhone's new features - that's what Apple's done to other brands.

So while Apple has sent other brands with AI, VR and AR capabilities into the bin, this proves to be a double-edged sword. By killing off its current competition, the iPhone X leaves itself exposed. Everyone now knows what Apple is doing in this forward-thinking field - it could very much become a case of follow the leader, trip the leader up and leave the leader in the dust.

Apple's spent a long time at the top of the S-curve. It's still at the top. But that's a long way to drop.

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