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Today’s unveiling by Samsung of its incredibly impressive Galaxy S4 demands an answer from Apple because, if it wasn’t already before, the iPhone 5 now looks dated, boring and for the very young, simply uncool.

Like millions – make that hundreds of millions – of Apple users around the world, I really would prefer to stick with the iPhone brand. It’s really easy to upgrade and the Apple products all work well together.

However, I simply cannot bring myself to “upgrade” from an iPhone 4 to an iPhone 5, when I know that the most current model iPhone is already more than a generation behind the latest offering from Samsung.

Walking in to any mobile phone shop over the past six months and talking to any of the young sales assistants, you would most likely have had them eagerly pushing a Galaxy S3 in your face rather than an iPhone 5.

Next to the S3 with its big panoramic screen, the iPhone 5 looks undersized and anemic.

Now along comes the S4 and the concrete rumours that are circulating through the blogosphere from Apple concern a gimmicky smart watch.

In a manner reminiscent of the days after Steve Jobs was squeezed out of his job at Apple, the famous company seems to have gone into a holding pattern.

For the younger readers who may not know their tech history, back in the mid-1980s the Apple Mac was so far ahead of its personal computing competition in the consumer space that it was no contest.

However, after Jobs got fired in 1985, the company went into a technological holding pattern, allowing Microsoft the 10 years it needed to catch up and release Windows 95.

By the time Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the company was on its last legs and most young people as well as all businesses were using Windows PCs, while Macs were only being used by a core group of loyal followers, including graphics artists and designers.

The worry is that now Jobs is gone, the company has again become timid and cautious, afraid to upset the status quo and boldly strike out in the way that Jobs did when he unveiled the original iPhone.

Apple may not feel a sense of urgency about this. It’s easy to feel that way when you have $120 billion in the bank and you’re still selling millions of phones each month. Why take risks while business is still good?

However, just a few short years ago, the undisputed kingpin of the mobile phone space was Nokia. The Finnish company was almost as dominant in the mobile handset market as Microsoft in PC software.

Nokia’s failure to recognise the smartphone threat cost it dearly and it has been marginalised.

Apple should be under no illusion that the same thing could happen to its brief stranglehold on the touch screen smartphone space.

Apple Maps was an unnecessary publicity disaster but inaction in bringing innovative new products to market often and with increased regularity will be a fatal mistake.

The Samsung Galaxy range is already taking Asia by storm and is gaining strong footholds elsewhere – even the US.

And just in case Apple hasn’t noticed, Samsung of late has started to generate the sort of market buzz of anticipation around its new product releases that Apple has done so well in recent years.

Instead of wasting time and resources on fighting Samsung in courts over alleged patent infringements, Apple should be readying the market for an iPhone 6 that aims to rock everyone’s socks off.

The new iPhone needs to at least match the Galaxy S4 specs and even go past them. It needs to have a wider high res screen, it needs to have greater processing power and it needs the type of snazzy features that Samsung has just unveiled.

And most of all, Apple can no longer afford to keep the market waiting because the competition is too good.

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Stan Beer

 

Stan Beer co-founded iTWire in 2005. With 30 plus years of experience working in IT and Australian technology media, Beer has published articles in most of the IT publications that have mattered, including the AFR, The Australian, SMH, The Age, as well as a multitude of trade publications.

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