By Dan Moren
February 28, 2019 2:49 PM PT
The Back Page: I Fold (Phones)
So you saw the presentation on the Samsung Galaxy Fold and then you watched Huawei unveil the Mate X, and suddenly you all want to know when we here at Apple are going to make folding phones.
Really? That’s what you want? I have to ask: What the hell is wrong with you people? We released a foldable phone five years ago, it was called the iPhone 6, and everybody screamed bloody murder.
Look, I’m sick and tired of people complaining that Apple is “falling behind” on every new “innovation” that other tech companies are trying to make happen. We didn’t miss smartwatches, we didn’t miss intelligent speakers, and we sure as hell didn’t miss smartphones. Okay, we may have missed intelligent speakers a little bit.
But not every single little thing that other companies trot out is worth spending our time and money on. We’re here to make the hard choices for you, because god knows you’re too distracted by shiny newness to do so. Did we really miss out on head-mounted displays? You wanted one of those creepy Google Glasses to wear everywhere? Because we could have done it, but we didn’t, because nobody wants to have to stare at people wearing cameras on their faces and staring at screens because they’re more interested than the latest YouTube video then your conversation about your kids. You’re welcome.
At Apple, we don’t just blindly follow the latest whims or so-called “trends.” If we had a nickel for every time some analyst said that we were doomed to failure because we had “missed out” on some product category, we would have amassed approximately $235 million, which we would then have donated entirely to charity because we already have so much more money than that it’s ridiculous.
What’re you going to say we missed next? I have to ask. Should we be building electric scooters? Boxing up meal delivery kits? Making our own video-streaming service? … Okay, that last one’s not half bad. Anyway, my point is, we don’t just do what everybody else is doing. If all your friends launched themselves into space, would you follow them? No, seriously, I’m asking, because there are a lot of billionaires building rockets.
So, no, the existence of foldable phones doesn’t mean we’re automatically going to start making them, no matter what patent filings you’ve uncovered. (Look, we let Fred patent a lot of stuff. It makes him feel useful. Keep it up, Fred.) Foldable phones goes way down on the list, below all the other stupid things people have demanded we make, like toaster-fridge laptops with touchscreens and smart fabrics with nano-materials and a FireWire-based audio breakout box. We’ve almost cracked that last one.
Basically we’re very busy, and you can either have a foldable phone or an electric miracle car. Or laptop keyboards that work. One of those. You pick.
Hey, building smartphones is hard and making them foldable isn’t even in the top ten things that we’re interested in. Because we’re not making tacos, we’re making phones, and as everybody made abundantly clear in 2014, phones aren’t supposed to bend. You want a folding phone, go find yourself a Motorola StarTAC. Enjoy surfing the web on that. We’ll be right here, not folding our phones.
[Dan Moren is the East Coast Bureau Chief of Six Colors. You can find him on Twitter at @dmoren or reach him by email at email@example.com. The latest novel in his Galactic Cold War series of sci-fi space adventures, The Nova Incident, is available now.]