If the internet was a person, I reckon it'd be a nightmare to cook for. "Here's your dinner," you'd say, unveiling an astonishing culinary creation you've spent days preparing. "Yeah, my mate Dave does this," they'd reply. "His version is much better" - or worse, they'd throw the plate at you, bellowing: "I want crisps on cheese on toast on soup on ravioli on ham on noodles and YOU'RE THE WORST COOK EVER!"
That's the online reaction in some quarters to the iPhone 5: the internet appears to be torn between those who think Apple has gone from copied to copier, and those who wanted a five-inch screen and wireless charging and a 40-megapixel camera and NFC and the old Dock connector and face recognition and gesture control and TIM COOK IS THE WORST COOK EVER.
Last night Apple unveiled yet another extraordinary piece of engineering, and the world said "meh".
Thanks for the meh-mories
I think there are four reasons for that. One, a new iPhone can never be as exciting as the first one, which made other phones' users look like they were holding bananas to their heads; these days some rivals are making equally desirable devices. Two, the iPhone is ubiquitous, purchased not only by cool people but by sunburned people in vests, and that's buggered up its cool factor. Three, months of leaks ruined any surprise. And four, Apple is the victim of inflated expectations.
I think inflated expectations are the biggie. In the run-up to an iPhone launch, certain parts of the internet decide that the new iPhone must have all of the features from every phone ever made, every phone ever designed and every phone ever imagined in a fever dream after an innocuous mushroom-picking trip went horribly and hilariously wrong.
The result? Apple takes one step closer to perfection, and the internet says YEAH BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THE LAST ONE AMIRITE LOLOLOLOL #EPICFAIL.
If wishes were horses, we'd have a lot of horses
iPhone wish lists are rather like sitting next to my four-year-old daughter when she watches the ads on the cartoon channels — I want this! And that! And those! Them! That! — but internet Chinese whispers soon turn them into "confirmed" facts. So when the iPhone 5 doesn't actually have an Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator, a feature that was confirmed months ago by the CEO of an obscure Taiwanese manufacturer of iPhone cases, tractors and dangerous toys, it's a giant Apple fail.
That's unfair, I think, because if we know one thing about Apple it's that Apple is passionate about the end product, and if it doesn't work or it isn't ready then it doesn't go in: this, after all, is a company whose iPhones couldn't copy and paste for their first year. As much as I'd like wireless charging, mind control and the ability to send my enemies to Hell (or He'll, as it's known on iOS devices), if they're not there it's because Apple doesn't think they're ready for prime time just yet.
The original iPhone transformed the smartphone market, and the new one is the best yet. Forget the wish lists and the snark: all that matters is whether the iPhone 5 does what you want it to do on a network you like at a price you're happy to pay. If it does, that's great. If it doesn't, that's great too: as the BBC might put it, other smartphones are available.
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