Sony and Apple both got some ‘splain to do.
What an eerily similar double dose of tech news we got this week, huh? For what it’s worth, I’m sure Apple and Sony didn’t intend to announce new updates of their biggest products on the same day — it was more of a coincidence than anything, probably spurred on by quaterly earning calls or some other such business concept I have no knowledge and/or right to talk about. But regardless of how it happened, both the Playstation 4 Pro and iPhone 7 were announced yesterday, and it was a bumpy coming out for both pieces of hardware.
But let’s start out with the most notable one: the iPhone 7. Apple is certainly one of the largest and most popular cell phone makers of the day, and as pretty much the creator of the modern smartphone as we know it, has gained a lot of leeway when it comes to the announcement of new hardware. But of all the iPhone announcements I can remember (which is to say all of them), the one for the iPhone 7 was by far the least spectacular.
And look, the reason why is pretty clear at this point: smart phones have reached a bit of a peak when it comes to new hardware and features, with most of the phones from the big providers (all 17,000 of them) being more or less the same. That leads for a lot less room to innovate, even for companies as revolution-friendly as Apple. So when they don’t have some new, game changing feature to show off, what do they have? Well, the boilerplate and questionable “bigger battery and more power!” argument, a nicer camera to take pictures of your pup and/or penis, and a weird dose of “waterproof to throw on top. While promises like these certainly do change the phone, none of them are big enough to get people really excited.
Instead, the most “revolutionary” (some would even say courageous!) change coming to the phone has been met with almost universal disdain — removing the standard 3.5mm headphone jack that has been a feature of the phone (and pretty much any piece of electronics in the last two decades) since the very beginning. The problem isn’t so much that Apple removed something that most people use on a daily basis: it’s that Apple did it without providing much of a reason as for why, and doing little to quell people’s fears about how needlessly complicated a world without a 3.5mm jack could be (unless you REALLY like dongles.)
The reason “Why?” is a big one facing both pieces of newly announced hardware, as the announcement of the Playstation 4 Pro could probably attest to. On the surface, the Playstation 4 Pro (or, as we’ve been calling it for months now, “Playstation Neo”) had everything we would expect it to have: 4K capabilities, HDR implementation, a sleeker form factor, et al. The announcement was so routine (and presented with so little passion) that it became rote. But it’s the thing we DIDN’T know about that’s getting the most eyebrows: the fact that the console WON’T be able to play 4K Blu-Ray discs.
Well, Sony has been pretty mum on the subject, at least at the time of this writing. Down the line Sony will probably provide some reason about hardware limitations and balancing processing power or what have you, but at the end of the day it just makes no sense that the creator of the 4K Blu-Ray format wouldn’t include a way to use the format on its flagship device. It’s like if the man who invented bread made a toaster that only fit bagels — it defies the laws of synergy, to the point that you have to wonder if the bread-maker even cares about the bread they make.
In any case, both Sony AND Apple probably hoped for better results from their new hardware’s first public appearances. The simple fact of the matter is neither featured anything that was particularly “wow” worthy, and because we’re going off of literal months of knowing pretty much what both would entail, the shock just wasn’t there…for the stuff included, at least.
And maybe that’s why, at the end of the day, the things the two companies decided to leave out are more noteworthy than that what they put in: the limited enhancements of both have been discussed endlessly and leaked almost entirely — when you know what’s coming, you lose the surprise of seeing a cool new piece of tech. And besides, in this day and age, outrage is far more enjoyable.