It’s not often you hear the co-founder of a major corporation admit when his company has been beat. That appears to be what happened today, however, when Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak spoke in an interview about the iPhone 4S’s mediocre camera, his hopes for the iPhone 5, and the recent Apple vs Samsung patent cases.
“I am always excited about every iPhone product because there are always good advances,” Wozniak said. “A better quality on the pictures will mean a lot, because when I show people pictures on my iPhone 4 and my Galaxy S III, they always say the Galaxy S III, or even the Motorola Razr, pictures look better.”
The fact that other devices on the market have leapfrogged past the iPhone in recent months is no secret, but you wouldn’t normally hear it from one of the company’s founders. Wozniak hasn’t worked for Apple for a long time, so there’s no reason he can’t say things like this, but it’s surprising nonetheless.
The fact that Wozniak sees the iPhone 5 as a catch-up device is a departure from how the iPhone has traditionally been viewed. Public perception of the new iPhone seems to be in line with Wozniak’s remarks, too; the iPhone has gone from being a revolutionary product that changed how we thought about phone, to being just another smartphone in a pack of similar devices.
As Dan Lyons, the technology editor of Newsweek, said in an op-ed for the BBC, the iPhone has lost its exciting edge. “To use a car analogy, six years ago the iPhone was like a sexy new flagship model from BMW or Porsche,” Lyons opines. “Today it’s a Toyota Camry. Safe, reliable, boring. The car your mom drives. The car that’s so popular that its maker doesn’t dare mess with the formula.”
The iPhone 5 wasn’t the only thing on Wozniak’s mind, though. He also expressed disappointment with the patent case against Samsung that Apple recently won. When asked about the case, Wozniak said, “I hate it. I don’t think the decision of California will hold. And I don’t agree with it — very small things I don’t really call that innovative. I wish everybody would just agree to exchange all the patents and everybody can build the best forms they want to use everybody’s technologies.”
One can’t imagine that Apple is too pleased to see their former boss speaking out against their legal decisions and product quality like this. Nonetheless, Wozniak offers an interesting perspective on the technology industry to the rest of us, as a guy who’s been in the thick of it for several decades now. It’s hard to argue gadgets with a guy who has more than a dozen of them on his person at all times.