common ground

An interesting thing happened in Friday’s Ornithology lecture. I’m not talking about the physiology of bird vision, though that was enthralling as well. My professor, while discussing retinal rod and cone concentrations, compared the eye to a digital camera. To do this, he didn’t use any common camera brands like Canon or Nikon, but the iPhone. He then explained that, unlike the eye, megapixel count was not the best way to determine camera quality. As the prime example of unnecessary pixels, he mentioned “the new iPhone 5, which is supposed to be getting a 12 megapixel camera.”

I had never even heard this rumor. But I was more surprised that a man whose main interest lies in avian lekking behavior had actually cited a tech rumor. I’d cleaned out my RSS feed before class started, so I wondered where he’d found this one. Using my iPod, I quickly ran a Google search to find out. The earliest article I could find had only been posted an hour earlier. The lecture had been going for about 30 minutes, so he must have checked just before class started.

This is why the iPhone won’t fade into irrelevance, and why developers still prefer the app store. A professor who likely has more important things to do still finds time to read iPhone rumor sites. Despite his decidedly lackluster setup of a generic PC laptop running Vista, he’s still fascinated by the iPhone. It truly is a cultural standard by now, and the recognition and prestige associated with the iPhone is not likely to change anytime soon. You can’t buy that kind of brand power, and you certainly can’t achieve it by flooding the market with clones.

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