iMessage or iDentical? Apple’s lack of originality could be the ticket to their success
This week, was that much anticipated time of the year again, when Apple made its latest announcements as part of its Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC). While the company announced some exciting advancements across their software suites, when it came to the updates on its iMessage service, it was somewhat underwhelming and yet also somewhat intriguing…
Some of the “new features” announced include the ability to record and send audio and video messages (think What’sApp, Facebook Messenger, Vine), along with a “self-destruct” option (a la Snapchat), and location sharing which is already possible in other messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook. Not exactly innovative “new” stuff.
While they have created what sound like very intuitive user experiences for these features, for the most part, Apple are just aiming to match, or as WhatsApp’s CEO commented, “copy” recent upgrades from other messaging apps such as Line, Snapchat etc. But where are the big, ground breaking, quirky new features we have grown to expect from a much loved giant like Apple?
By filling the gaps of their iMessage service, Apple are levelling out the messaging playing field. They are sending a clear signal that they can see the value in offering a consolidated messaging service for their users, which encompasses all of the popular features of the most used apps currently on the market. Maybe this is Apple’s innovation in the approach?
Even in today’s tech-savvy world, the true success of an app comes down to function and user experience – not just in terms of design, but in terms of what the app is able to offer and how streamlined its services are in allowing its users to perform multiple functions in a simple way. Apple keeps it simple, however, what Apple still hasn't quite gotten right, and that it failed to mention yesterday, is improving the reliability of the iMessage service. The protocols of how it works are very complex and messages often get lost or are never sent or received.
If operators were to launch their own smart, rich communication app which included SMS/MMS fall back, messages would be guaranteed to be sent and received, and would then not be limited to just other iPhone or smartphone users but also to feature phones providing universal reach and a truly ubiquitous service.
While not ground breaking in terms of features, operators should take note of Apple’s strategy – even in a crowded application marketplace, there is a strong opportunity for an all in one communication service which can combine all the best messaging features with universal reach – but the key is to ensure it has a simple, engaging and empowering user experience. While new features are cool, they are not always what is needed, so with their credentials, this is something operators may indeed be far better placed to offer than Apple - but perhaps, with a few quirky features thrown in for good measure.