Is Apple Moving Too Slow for Consumers?

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Despite the many signs popping up all over the place, expectations around Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference are still low. Taking place on June 7th, the San Francisco conference is the annual showcase for Apple to present new products and services, having become particularly famous for the yearly iPhone updates.

With Google Android having stolen some of Apple’s spotlight in the past year or so, and taking the preemptive strike to reveal its Google TV plans last week, the world is left wondering what could possibly redeem Apple in the growing market of mobile devices.

There are a few clues that offer some insight–Apple is no longer selling the iPhone 3G, the older, discounted version of the phone, on its website. The 3G model has also seen a pricing rollback at Walmart, now selling for $97, reports CNet. There was also the lost iPhone prototype, which reached the hands of Gizmodo reporters, who promptly shared their discovery with the world.

Other signs have appeared, from Apple’s response to the iPhone prototype, to developing deals with various content owners and platform providers, including book publishers and Facebook. While we know of various updates that will be included in the next rendition of the iPhone, it still looks as though Apple is merely catching up to other smart phones in its effort to become more user-friendly, cooperative and social.

So while Apple could still manage to pull a rabbit out of its hat in the coming weeks, it still seems an unlikely feat. One of the few ways in which the company could largely appeal to its thinning user base is to incorporate more social features, and ways in which apps can better communicate with each other. Finding a way to introduce this to consumers in an innovative fashion would require Apple to leverage several of its high-profile relationships across the media and other industries, particularly if it wants to one-up Google and its revolutionary media initiatives that focus on the consumer.

And therein lies the lesson of the year–be consumer-centric. Combining services with products and social tools is the new way for mobile devices to largely appeal to buyers. And for all apple has done to spur the electronics market, it stands a chance of losing its place of prominence. While it’s unlikely that Apple will suddenly lose all its adorning customers, people are finally able to access viable alternatives to Apple’s greatness. Hedging against this is a precaution Apple must take for its future.

So far, the market is only getting more intense. Every other day, there are rumors of a new phone that threatens to blow everything else out the water. Google has been guilty of adding fuel to this fire, launching Android-supported devices across multiple carriers, and proceeding to roll out frequent updates. The result is an ever-changing mobile world that makes many of our purchases nearly irrelevant within six months.

Encouraging a quick turnaround is something Google is banking on, as it stabilizes its platform and increases its visibility. While Apple focuses its efforts on yearly updates, Google has unveiled new features and options for its platform nearly every month for the past year. And while Apple is playing up to this quickening replacement rate by ridding its warehouse of old 3G models to make way for whatever the company is about to unveil, there’s still no telling how the public or pundits will respond to the next iPhone.

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