My Later Than Expected Post on the iPhone

with one comment

I definitely didn’t expect that I’d finish my first post on the iPhone 3 months after it would come out. But when Steve Jobs’ ‘Thoughts on Music’ came out, I decided that writing about that was a little more pressing than writing about a cellphone that wasn’t coming out for, at the time, 5 months.

I would really like to bring attention to a little quote from my prediction post for Macworld 2007 regarding the then unannounced iPhone:

I don’t expect this thing to blow us away, like all the rumours have suggested. I think Apple’s going to play this safe… But this is definitely not going to be the shape-shifting, do-it-all phone that others are expecting.

I’m very happy that I was wrong.

The Product

I can’t lie: I fucking love it. At least, I love what I’ve seen so far. The phone just blows me away with it’s apparent ease of use, advanced operating system and crazy features. Is this as revolutionary as the Mac, or the graphical user interface that it introduced? I don’t think so, but it definitely is nothing short of a revolution in the cellphone market as well as the broader portable electronics market, where portable devices (particularly cell-phones) and their operating systems are treated more like toys than real consumer products. It could very well popularize actual mobile internet usage, beyond just the stupid ringtone downloads that people seem to eat up like crazy. I also love the design, not so much because of the hardware itself, but because the design of the phone pretty much is the user interface.

Of course, there are issues that I have with it. First off, there’s no user-replaceable battery. That just plain sucks. There will probably be smudges that will appear on the screen1 and the device won’t have any support for third party apps (at least right off the bat).

A New Market

There seem to be some interesting directions that Apple’s taking with the iPhone. One of them seems to be the market that they’re after. Since Apple’s not much of a business company (and since apparently the iPhone will not be able to sync from Outlook contacts on Windows PCs2), it appears that the iPhone is aimed squarely at normal consumers. However, there are many things about the iPhone that most consumers don’t use on a phone. The web browser being one. Who needs a web browser? How many people actually use the web browsing capabilities of their cell-phone? I’m guessing that most people don’t. The same can be said of Google Maps (which comes in it’s own dedicated app form on the iPhone). About the only thing that users really use on their phones are the music playback capabilities (which don’t seem to be particularly popular at all) and the phone features. Well, both of those things have been vastly improved on the iPhone, but what’s with all the other stuff? Why would Apple put in all those capabilities and drive up the price?

Because they’re trying to popularize it. By ‘it’, I mean internet functionality in general. What Apple’s doing isn’t particularly rare for the company. They’ve done it plenty of times before: laptops, USB, wireless networking, mp3 players, online music/video stores, podcasts, etc. have all been brought to market and popularized by Apple. What’s interesting is the way that the company is bringing about this functionality. It’s nothing like what they did with the iPod: a simple somewhat stripped down version at first and then many successive generations each adding several new features. Such a path can lead, if followed correctly, to a very robust, full-featured product, as it has with the iPod. Instead, like the Mac in 1984, Apple is betting the bank on the iPhone. It sort of represents Apple’s ‘hopes and dreams’ for the future; they’re little child that will let them grow in the cut-throat consumer electronics world.

Third-Party Applications

It has been explicitly stated by Apple that the iPhone will not run third-party apps. Now I don’t know about recent rumblings, but regardless of what Apple is planning on releasing at launch, I believe that a third-party development environment and market are in the plans. However, I highly doubt that it will be as free-form as the Palm/Windows Mobile world. What seems likely is an environment much like the iPod games at first and then an eventual loosening of the restrictions to open it up to a wider range of developers. Ultimately, it seems to me that Apple wants to emphasize that the iPhone is not a PC and doesn’t want to treat it as such.

– – – –

I guess the only thing that matters after all has been said and done is one thing: will it sell? Well, I see the iPhone doing very well. Is it gorgeous? Yes. Is it easy to use? Yes. Is it advanced? Hell yes! Is it expensive? Yes. It seems to me like all the ingredients are there for a successful product.

1. But apparently it only takes a wipe of the screen with one’s sleeve to make smudges disappear.
2. Which is utterly stupid.

Macworld January 2007 Predictions
The Ultimate iPhone Frequently Asked Questions
The Apple Phone Show » iPhone Poker – Apple Phone Show
STATE OF THE ART; Apple Waves Its Wand At the Phone – New York Times


Written by Kumaran Vijayan

April 13, 2007 at 12:12 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Umm…. the iPhone isn’t just a cellphone. It is just a simple cross between a cellphone and a PDA (aka a blackberry) with a kick ass hardware and styling use. Plenty on people on PDAs use all those features you listed as “unused” (aka web browsing).
    Actually, the iPhone is just an overpowered PDA, the only reason it wasn’t called the iPDA is because the PDA market is kind of dead, and it is much easier to make money in the cellphone market. Hopefully the iPhone will bring energy back into the PDA market.
    I think I will expand on my old post on the topic.

    (PS: I shall dig this)

    Devil From Russia

    April 13, 2007 at 8:27 pm

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