iOS 7 is the make it or break it moment for Apple

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My first “smartphone” was a Blackberry that allowed me to tether my laptop to it for Internet access. That Blackberry was replaced by a Curve, which while I loved for sending emails, sucked for pretty much anything else. I didn’t get an iPhone until the iPhone 4 a few years ago and I do love my iOS. I’m not stupid though. I’ve made the jump from Mac to Windows to Mac as necessity deemed right. I’ve played with lots of other OSes, admittedly I haven’t used a newer Android device, and I like to give credit where credit is due. Which is why I have to say: Apple needs to knock iOS 7 out of the park.

Three articles I read recently really sparked this, although we’ve all been thinking the same thing lately, Dan Lyons over at RWW on Jellybean, a guest column by Ralf Rottmann on Gizmodo about switching to a Nexus 4, and a post by Liz Gannes at AllThingsD on how she doesn’t use core Apple apps any more. All of these drive home the core point—Apple lost its edge with iOS 6 and it needs to step up its game with iOS 7 or start to become, well, Microsoft.

Microsoft was so successful for so long because they became entrenched in businesses. People couldn’t imagine a world where starting a task didn’t start with the Start menu. Slowly but surely, Apple snuck in and, according to Forrester, will sell $39 billion in Macs and iDevices to businesses in the next two years. That’s taking over the industry, and while Windows still (sadly) dominates the corporate workplace, Apple is getting their foot in the door.

Apple is in a similar position as Microsoft, as far as iOS goes. For years iOS has set the bar for a great mobile OS and app ecosystem, but it has backslid of late. There was nothing revolutionary or even evolutionary about iOS 6, it was purely solidifying what came before. I’m sure Apple knows this. Maybe it’s like Snow Leopard and Lion, versions of the OS needed as transition points to something bigger and better.

Maybe.

Apple needs to look at how people want to use their devices (as the Gizmodo article points out) and help people do it. I don’t think that full-scale customization is the way to go, but as pod2g suggests a system of “approved tweaks” could work well. Even letting people pick the default apps (which I do think has been a plan all along, just as soon as Google had solid apps to offer) would go a long way to putting the lustre back on iOS.

If Apple misses this opportunity, well…we can start thinking about how to transition to Android I guess.

Photo from Flickr by Graham Campbell.

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