During the pep rally for iPhone OS4 I was pondering how Apple has carefully crafted a dedicated culture of users, both with their computers and gadgets. It reminds me, although on a much less elaborate scale, of the method that Nintendo has used to enhance the Nintendo DS over the years and stimulate demand for new hardware and games.
I think there are at least 3 generations of Nintendo DS systems on the market now, compared with a half-dozen iPod generations and 3 going on 4 generations of the iPhone. Nintendo has made it a point to prevent the total alienation of users by maintaining backwards compatibility so users of older systems still have a similar experience to those with the newer gadgets. We all know this isn’t the case with Apple.
Once a new iPhone OS comes out, those with older handsets usually get left in the dust. They need to upgrade their OS if possible – or just fork over a fistful of Benjamins to get on the boat. Development of apps gets focused on making use of the new OS features further leaving users alienated.
Everyone is paying attention to what happens in the mobile device arena. Big things are happening and everyone wants a piece. Apple has a big piece for good reason, but now that a few other big boys are in the arena they may need to revisit their method of keeping a user base. It may not last now that people have comparable alternatives.