The Emperor’s New Clothes may be invisible, but they have two sides

Danny Kaye king

Seem to have had Danny Kaye’s ‘The King is in the all together/But all together the all together/He’s all together as naked as the day that he was born’ bouncing through my head for the past couple of days, ever since Apple managed to launch – well, not very much apart from some magic suiting this week.

Of course, everyone from the established giants of the tech-reporting world to those frantically clinging on to their coat-tails has gone into overdrive with the coverage, with pictures, hands-ons, opinion pieces and the like – but for what?

The iPhone 5C is nothing more than the (now discontinued) iPhone 5 clad in a plastic case and a rainbow of colours, either making it look ‘for the colourful’ or like something you might give your kids to play with so they pretend to have a phone just like Mummy’s or Daddy’s.

Apparently this colour ‘has to be engineered in’, and Apple ‘said no to thousands of seemingly acceptable colors before saying yes to five with uncommon beauty and depth.’

That’ll be green, blue, yellow, pink and white, then.

Oh, and the phone is only made of plastic so Apple could do these colours, not because it’s cheaper. No sirree, bub…

And if you don’t want the plasticky – sorry, ‘colorful’ – version, but something a bit classier? Then you’ll have to pay more for the iPhone 5S, in its choice of three anodised finishes, and complete with a 64-bit processor (no, tech boys, that doesn’t make it twice as fast as 32-bit architecture), a better camera and fingerprint recognition, which will be – well, useful for something someday, perhaps.

You can’t buy the old iPhone 5 you were thinking of getting – that’s been disappeared, so it’s one of the new models for you now.

Two new finishes, and a bit of technical tweakery: hardly the gasp-inducing stuff we used to expect from Apple, is it? After all, this is the company arguably responsible for inventing the smartphone, and turning the world on to tablet computers to the extent that sales of notebooks and netbooks have tanked completely.

That makes me sad, as a card-carrying – well, iPhone 5-carrying, actually – user of many Apple products. I’m typing this on a MacBook Air, the audio system is being controlled by an iPad mini, there are two more Apple computers in the house, plus a clutch of iPods and older iPad models. Oh, and the internet over which I’m posting this is being Wi-Fied round the house by an AirPort Extreme.

Marketing, not innovation
But where’s the innovation now? Recent launches have just been variations on tried and tested themes, and whereas Apple once led in excitement and the ability to wrongfoot its rivals by coming out with something truly new and different, now we still have all the razzmatazz, but so little substance. And the opposition is not just catching up, but showing the great innovators a clean pair of heels.

What’s more, almost all this stuff was leaked way ahead of launch, so comprehensively that the cynical might even suspect the information is dribbled out just to keep the geeks on the hook.

Yet the tech writers keep telling the tech readers they should be interested, write acres of words about the new products and show every picture they can, and so the merry dance of shortened replacement cycles goes on. After all, if you don’t like the new phones, there are already plenty of rumours that an iPhone 6 is on the way pretty soon, and what criticism there is of the new models from those who’ve actually seen them is about as mild and toothless as it could be – after all, they wouldn’t want to fall off the invite list for the next breathless event, would they?

So let’s not forget, every time the emperor’s new clothes are mentioned, that the tale has two sides: first there are the swindlers, preying on the foolishness of the king, and saying ‘Your Majesty, to a wise man this is a beautiful raiment but to a fool it is absolutely. invisible.’

And then there are the sycophantic courtiers, crying ‘The most remarkable suit of clothes a tailor ever made/Now quickly, put it all together/With gloves of leather and hat and feather/It’s all together the thing to wear in Saturday’s parade’.

Why? Because they’ve been told the suit is magic, and don’t want to appear fools. After all, the striking raiment laid before them is ‘not just for lovers of color. It’s for the colorful.’

‘The hose are blue and the doublet is a lovely shade of green…’

Written by Andrew Everard



  1. George Corner · · Reply

    Agreed Andrew. A lot of noise over nothing I thought. Very disappointing. And Motorola had covered off the fingerprint thing first two years ago (the first generation Atrix had it, works pretty well)!

    1. Never mind, there’s always next month – the fawning courtiers are already talking up an iPad 5 or 6 or something for mid-October, so here we go again. But then new iPads will just be yet more variations on tried and tested themes – we really need Apple to show us something radical and new, like it did in the past. And no, an iWatch won’t do it…

  2. […] But then the point about being the first, or promising something to better to come, isn’t too unlike the ‘drip drip’ leakage of seemingly well-sourced information about Apple products, which I discussed in an earlier post. […]

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