Last week, I interviewed comedian Robert Kelly as he was doing a four day run at the Laugh Out Loud Comedy Club here in San Antonio. Kelly, a big fan of Apple, was in a town he's only visited once before and with the iPhone 5 only hours away from being sold after his show ended Thursday night, he was looking for any help getting one. Being a fan of his work and a life-long San Antonian, I told him I would help him out. When he asked me about my phone, the Galaxy S3, I said that I couldn't really deal with all the Apple yearly upgrades. He then made a pretty profound statement:
"Apple does that to make you a better person. So you can get the new iPhone or iPad, you have to work harder and earn more money."
Although I don't agree with the sentiment that Apple is doing it to make me a "better person," it did resonate with me that maybe having that desire for an upgraded piece of technology is a good thing. It keeps you hungry for what's new, and not be satisfied with what you have already.
Being the gamer that I am, I tried to think of a company that is acting like Apple right now. Then it hit me: Activision. Activision's whole focus for the year is Call of Duty. Every year they've released a new version with the slight upgrades to the gameplay and visuals without truly overhauling the system. Is it a better game? Yes. Is it a new experience? Nope.
Like the iPhone, Call of Duty 4 : Modern Warfare was released in 2007, and also like the iPhone, we're looking at the sixth version of the game. They both have quite a bit in common: large majority of kids asking for the new one, people waiting hours in line for them, and so on.
What's interesting is the growing resentment we're starting to see with the iPhone 5 announcement coming from many of the Apple faithful. The company that could do no wrong before is now being looked at as “that company that just wants your money.” A good reason for those realizing that the Emperor has no clothes, is that there's an actual good alternative for the iPhone. Most notably the Galaxy S III and the soon to be released, Galaxy Note II. Both these phones, and others have given people many reasons to leave their iPhones for the warm caress of Android. That said, many folks are still going to wait in line for the next iDevice.
We saw the same thing happen last year with Call of Duty: Battlefield 3 strolled in with sweet promises of huge maps, amazing visuals, and the ability to jump out of a jet, shoot another jet with a rocket launcher THEN land back on your jet as seen in the video below:
With Halo 4 and Medal of Honor: Warfighter (which is actually looking good this time) both dropping this year, the attractiveness of spending another $60 on a CoD game is starting to wane. Like the iPhone, people are becoming accustomed with what they already have and don’t really have the urge to upgrade or are happy to go with a competitor that's offering what looks like a better product.
Will that slow down the sales of Call of Duty or the iPhone? A bit.
What can go wrong? An utter massive screw-up, like the recent FIFA 13 fail by EA. The FIFA series is a big seller for EA worldwide, with millions of people having no problem buying the game each year. This year EA released FIFA 13 for the PS Vita and Wii, the games being almost identical to FIFA 12. This kind of blunder could result in millions of lost sales for EA, a company that has already won the dubious honor as The Consumerist’s “Worst Company in the US.”
Then on the tech side, you have Blackberry which was slowly taking over the smartphone market with what was once the ideal phone for professionals. Companies everywhere bought Blackberries to all their employees, but Research in Motion (RIM) became lazy, sitting on their ass while Apple was changing the smartphone as we know it. Widely publicized outages also didn’t help and now RIM is on the brink of going out of business. There’s also Palm. Remember Palm? Exactly.
So until Activision or Apple makes that really big mistake that upsets their customer base, expect to see more Call of Duty games and more iPhones in the future.
If you think otherwise, let us know in the comments.