Apple - The Fruitful Company That Was

Thursday, September 13, 2012
"Hey look! It's an iPhone!" was a very popular line in the history of mobile telephony. If you were one of those people whose jaws dropped upon stumbling next to a person owning the first generation iPhone back then, consider yourself hypnotized.

Photo courtesy of CNET

It can be recalled how Apple's iPhone brought about a tremendous amount of change in how mobile phones are right now. Sure, there have been a few touch-screen phones before it but the differentiating factor is the manner it was marketed - A phone and iPod in one!

But how innovative was the "innovative" fruit-company with the initial iPhone? Did it blow others up flaunting something that others lacked? I'd say it did. To a certain extent, touch-enabled phones carrying different brands flooded the market thereafter. Other than Apple empowering people's index fingers in mobile technology, there isn't really anything left worth mentioning. I can recall trying to sell my Nokia N95 just to get hold of an iPhone. Just before I actually did, I began to have second thoughts on the iPhone for one thing - it didn't have quite a number of standard features that others already had for years. Eventually I had to say "nay" instead of "yey" on the iPhone.

A year passed and a successor came into place bringing a not-so-generous number of features. Unsurprisingly, it sold like hotcakes like the first one did. The second iteration of the iPhone failed to lure me into getting one. Such reaction went on until Apple unveiled Siri. It wasn't really the first of its kind but like the first iPhone, Apple went away successful with a sole strategy - marketing (again). Perhaps, Apple can lean on that aspect for its success.

Engineering phones with a minimalist design left people with the impression that simple is beautiful; and it is. Though agreeable, you don't look only into aesthetics. Ironically, the iPhone's operating system dwells in a spot just below simplicity; deviating from competition with a snob on basic features that phones should have. Just imagine how Apple took 5 long years before it had video calling over mobile network incorporated on its product, 1 year before Multi Media Messaging (MMS) was considered, another unbelievable 5 years and counting for inability to send files via Bluetooth and an absolute blind eye on NFC. But the list doesn't stop there. A lot is still left undone for consumers to get the complete experience on an Apple iPhone.

Just hours ago, the latest iPhone (iPhone 5) was introduced to the public. I'd be honest in telling that I've been crossing my fingers on the possibility of Apple introducing a ground-breaking evolution to its next-generation mobile phone. To my surprise, it only played catch-up with other existing phones in the market. In a world where technology has apparently reached its climax, banking only on hardware upgrades will bring no good. Look for a fast phone and there's quad-core. Search for LTE and there's a variety to choose from. But consider software evolution - it's something you'd gain much credit for without having to share much similarity with competition.

Before buying another phone, one is likely to ask if the upgrade is justifiable. In this case, if a bigger screen, slimmer phone profile and LTE integration will suffice, why would you pay a premium when there are better phones out there at a lesser price? Is it because the logo looks "too cool," or because you'll finally have a reason to flaunt? Hey, I got good news for you! In a third-world country like the Philippines, our tricycle drivers, security guards and household personnel have iPhones, too. In effect, what I'm driving at is the fact that owning an iPhone will never make you look elite, nor will it make you BE elite. And so I ask, what does your iPhone do that the other phones, like the Galaxy SIII, can't? Or should the question be what CAN'T your iPhone do that the Galaxy SIII can?

Photo courtesy of CNET Asia

Apple has apparently lost its glory in its claim to be an "innovator" with the iPhone 5. Unless the next-generation phone from Apple can make any notable difference, it will only turn out to be less of a mobile phone and more of an expensive toy. Let me end with a quote from CNET's Roger Cheng, "Think about it: was there one legitimately new feature that was shown off? That's the big issue. When a company stops innovating, it becomes vulnerable. It may not happen today or tomorrow, but the lack of breakthrough products sets you on the track for a potential downfall."

It's More Fun in Palawan!

Sunday, September 9, 2012
The Philippines boasts of 7107 islands. Interestingly, the one with the largest land area home to a UNESCO World Heritage site and, just recently, inaugurated as one of the new 7 Wonders of the World is Southeast Asia’s last frontier - Palawan. Sure, there are lots of tourist attractions scattered all over the country but a visit to this province, particularly Puerto Princesa City, is unlike any other; definitely not overrated, just pure astonishment.

I live in a quaint small city often regarded as one of the cleanest, if not the cleanest, within the country. A visit to Puerto Princesa instantaneously dethroned my city in the shortlist. During the first few hours of my stay, I’ve been too busy looking for rubbish deliberately thrown anywhere which, by the way, turned out to be such an embarrassing failure. The city can’t be cleaner and it can only be attributed to the locals whose discipline is seen as exemplary. Respectful, gentle and kind are only among many initial impressions that they have set in my mind. I appreciate being able to roam around the city’s commercial district without fear of snatchers, swindlers and other people alike. Adding to the bunch of surprises is the fact that the city still covers majority of the tourist attractions with the Subterranean Underground River having approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes travel time and Honda Bay Wharf about 30 minutes away from the city-center. Yes, it’s HUGE so Davao City, step back! However, it’s not necessarily about how big the city is because a huge chunk of the people’s interest is captured by WHAT the place can offer.

The Subterranean Underground River has more to offer beyond it being a river inside a cave. It flaunts a perfect balance of the eco-system and a sustainability that does not weaken through the bulk of tourists coming in and out. Admittedly, the underground river in Palawan is not the sole natural attraction of its kind in the planet but what makes it far ahead of the rest is the fact that it measures 8.2 kilometers long; making it the world’s longest. With such a long (45-minute) quest, you’d be lucky to be with a tour guide whose sense of humor enhances the level of experience even more. A job like theirs not only demand strength (for paddling) but also calls for intellect (interaction, fact sharing and humor). I’m all hands-down on their multi-tasking. Apart from the subterranean river itself, the marvel of the flora and fauna will take you back to what the world had been – clean, green and untouched. A strong sense of coexistence between man and nature, though rarely seen, is very much present in the location. Monitor lizards, squirrels and other wild animals are free to roam the area without fear. Perhaps, that’s something you wouldn’t experience elsewhere but in Palawan.

The fun doesn’t stop with the country’s representative to the New 7 Wonders of the World as El Nido, the new owner of the number one spot for tourism in the country, will likely make jaws drop out of total awesomeness. They say it’s like heaven on earth but my motion sickness wouldn’t let me have a taste of it only because of the long trip from the downtown area (approx. 7 hours). I’m not really in the position to say much about the place since I really haven’t been there, yet. Honda Bay did the trick for me. Though not at par with the aforementioned attraction, it had me excited over one very amazing experience – being swarmed by fishes. Never in my life did I anticipate having a date with these fishes that actually don’t fall short of guts in dealing with people. Furthermore, the white sand beaches of the islands scattered in the bay will, somehow, ease your longing for the Boracay experience (minus the night life, of course).

Not to be forgotten is the tour around the city and a visit to the Wildlife Rescue and Conservation Center which gave me an opportunity to be up close and personal (well, not really that close) with the crocs. There lies the remains of the croc whose size is next to that of Lolong’s, officially the world’s largest crocodile in captivity.

Surely, a week’s time in Palawan will be too minimal to explore all that the province can offer. If you’re after a bang-for-the-buck type of vacation, do consider Palawan as your next travel destination because It’s More Fun in Palawan!

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