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Apple’s touchy feely iPhone misses 3G, but delivers on mobile convergence.

January 10, 2007

iphone

You’ve got to hand it to Apple’s marketing department for naming their new device after someone else’s VoIP product,  but unveiling their new iPhone has some intriguing new features that will change the way we use mobile devices.

The US market won’t be able to purchase the device until June this year, Europeans get their hands on it in late ’07 and Asian countries a further wait well into ’08.
 
Watching the Keynote address by Steve Jobs about the iPhone, you become aware of the incredible marketing hyperbole that surrounds highly anticipated product launches such as this one. With outlandish comments such as "5 years ahead of any other phone" or "we have reinvented the phone" they could make you believe they have, but have they?
 
Apple has produced a differentiating product that has some new features such as the multi-touch large screen interface that haven’t been seen on other mobile devices yet, but they have missed some key industry trends such as using inferior 2.5G connectivity (especially for such a heavy media centric device), implementing an inferior camera (only 2Megapixel) and no mention of how 3rd party developers can (and more importantly IF they can) build their own products into the device.
 
Apple however, has implemented something that has been missing in mobile devices for a very long time and that is a seamless intuitive interface that from the demonstrations seen on the keynote, give a superior user experience. Overall a major factor of why large portions of the new generation of mobile telephony do not use the new services, is because of the very poor user experience. Hopefully other mobile device manufacturers will see this and act.
 
The iPhone’s success relies heavily on partnering closely with a carrier, in this case US carrier Cingular for the launch in June, to ensure the user experience is positive across all the iPhone’s services. This can and will prevent the product from moving forward into other markets quickly. If Apple must partner with carriers to deliver these enhanced services, then this will greatly impede delivery in other countries, not to mention choice of carriage.
 
With the success of the iPod, all eyes have been focused on what Apple’s play in the mobile arena would be. Now that they have played their hand, they must back the gratuitous hype with actual sales of the devices. Their target is 10 million by the end of 2008.
 
Hopefully they do release a 3G version very soon and upgrade the camera out of the dark ages too, but more importantly, that they open the development environment for other 3rd party developers and not create yet another locked down proprietary Apple product.
 
Posted by Shane Williamson.
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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Unknown permalink
    January 10, 2007 20:16

    Ahhh yes, Steve is a great showman but at least he\’s passionate, entertaining, actually understands customer needs (more than any other computer/consumer elec. CEO) and builds great products."With outlandish comments such as "5
    years ahead of any other phone" or "we have reinvented the phone" they
    could make you believe they have, but have they?"Yes they have. The combination of technologies, interaction method, integration of services (e.g. between phone applications and Google Maps) and form factor AS A PACKAGE goes far beyond any current mobile/smartphone or multimedia computer.  It has really focussed on a broad range of customer needs and provided new interaction solutions.  It has provided the most fully featured services to date."but they have missed some key industry trends such as using inferior 2.5G connectivity"Steve stated at the start of his intro to the iPhone that they used GSM because of it\’s international applicability.  He also clearly said that 3G is on the roadmap.  Further, if the vast majority of your multimedia is already on the phone, why do you need super high bandwidth? Of course it\’s a nice to have, but the value of richer services on device with all your media content synchronised is far more useful (and cheaper than having to buy a ringtone for your mobile and a digital download for your PC (or CD).  Also recognise that Steve didn\’t heavily promote uploading of user generated content.  Apple don\’t do things until the technology is right and I\’ll bet that when they upgrade to 3G and beyond, that they\’ll introduce purchasing and more upload capabilities.  Don\’t forget also that this phone auto-detects and switches to WiFi, so it\’s not as if it\’s always a low bandwidth device…"implementing an inferior camera (only 2Megapixel)"2MP is hardly inferior! it\’s good enough for most and is higher than average for the full range of mobile phones and cetainly higher than any of the smart phones in it\’s class (Treo, Q, E62 and BB – those that have a camera at all).  But yes, I\’d hope for a 3.2MP in the next version."no mention of how 3rd party developers can (and more importantly IF they can) build their own products into the device." There\’s also a lot of other things he didn\’t mention and this is a consumer (not developer) show.  Given that widgets have always been promoted as 3rd party development opportunities I would assume that they will be and given the phone is running OSX it would suggest that there would be possibility (i.e. if they can dev for OSX there shouldn\’t be much difference to code for the iPhone\’s variant of OSX – it will be interesting to see what sort of variant it is…). "This can and will prevent the product from moving forward"I disagree, this phone is relativey carrier agnostic (with the exception of the Visual Voicemail).  What other things rely on the carrier?  To me it seems all you need is a SIM and a good data plan and you\’re away and I expect that it has been designed this way to make it easy to roll out a single product internationally (as with the reason to go with GSM, at this stage)."but more importantly, that they open
    the development environment for other 3rd party developers and not
    create yet another locked down proprietary Apple product."Development for Mac OSX is based on Open Source UNIX and there are powerful tools for developing applications for MacOSX e.g. XCode that has resulted in a huge surge in developing for Mac OS X so it\’s hardly a proprietary platform…  But more to the point, this is a consumer product that is unlikely to require a million applications to be developed for it.  This is what Apple does well (iMac/iPod etc) produces a product that appeals to a wide target market in a very simple way, rather than trying to be all things to all people and potentially breaking the customer experience and ease of use.Again, the list of functionality/technologies that this product has introduced/intergrated, the new approach to mobile device user experience and interaction, in the svelte pocketable form factor goes far beyond any mobile device before it.  10million will be a walk in the park… 🙂

  2. Shane permalink
    January 11, 2007 11:29

    Oliver you have won the award for longest comment posted! 🙂
    Thanks for your comments. Here\’s a few responses….. As a Green Appleite surely even you can see Jobs showmanship is a bit egotistical as doesn\’t like sharing the stage with those that actually did the work behind the scenes too.
     
    a) Yes they have created a device that is ahead of a lot of the competition, but they are not 5 years ahead, that is bollocks. The mobile industry moves dangerously quickly it changes. There is nothing on that phone other than what I have stated that is different to other devices out now or coming out at the same time as theirs (June \’07).
     
    b) International applicability is 3G, last I saw WCDMA was GSM. The iPhone is a classic example of how Apple focused on building a device for the US market of 2 years ago. The US market today is one of the fastest growing 3G markets, it has changed a lot in 2 years. I look forward to seeing their 3G device.  What\’s the use of being mobile if I can\’t access the latest media whilst mobile? Why do I have to wait till I synchronise with a PC/Mac? 3G is about being mobile and accessing media where ever & whenever I want. Like there\’s always a trusty WiFi hot-spot ready for me to use when I\’m walking down a street and want to read the maps….. ;-p
     
    c) 2 Mega-pixel is an inferior resolution on mobile devices today. By June 2007 the majority of camera phones being sold will be 3Mp and higher. There was no demo of the camera\’s use, there was not discussion of convergence with a digital still or movie camera. This is a trend moving forward and they missed it. People are using their mobiles as replacement of low end digital cameras and this will only gain more ground as more services and products appear on the devices for this.
     
    d) Hopefully there will be a developers SDK released soon and that it won\’t be limited to just widgets
     
    e) The phone is not carrier agnostic, Jobs stated that they went exclusive with the "largest carrier in the US" to ensure they could
    deliver the proper user experience. For instance, free Yahoo mail? Whose paying for all that rich HTML data going between the phone and the network? Conf call capability is network enabled, the voice-mail app demoed is pushing sound files to the device to be played on he device (whose paying for that data?) therefore it is a network enabled service. How much do you want to bet it\’s networked locked too?
     
    f) Jobs stated this quote from Alan Kay in his Keynote, "people who are really serious about making their own software should make their own hardware". This has been an Apple law from day one. The fact that OSX is on it DOESN\’T mean it has the same API set available for developers as on their desktops. Due to their partnership with a carrier, there will be limitations to what can be down with it.
     
    Don\’t get me wrong mate I think they have done a good attempt on their first mobile, but I just don\’t buy into this being something that is going to reverse world hunger and magically activate world peace…… ;-p
    Shane

  3. Unknown permalink
    January 11, 2007 18:56

    WooHoo! I won an award :-)"doesn\’t like sharing the stage with those that actually did the work behind the scenes too"Jobs has a huge ego, no doubt. Do you want them all up on stage? He talked for a couple of minutes at the end about his appreciation for the people and their families that worked on the product."There is nothing on that phone other than what I have stated that is different to other devices out now or coming out"5 years ahead is spin, no doubt! But even in June there will be no phone comparable to the iPhone in terms of the whole package offered (UI/integration/design). Happy to wait and see!"2 Mega-pixel is an inferior resolution on mobile devices today" Do you have stats on that? What percentage of phones are above 2MP?"How much do you want to bet it\’s networked locked too?"I\’ll bet it is!  Trust me I\’ll be looking for ways to unlock it… "I think they have done a good
    attempt on their first mobile"Think about this way, a company that yesterday wasn\’t considered a mobile phone company has announced a phone that is a significantly better mobile experience than any current phone or phone that has been announced.  They just leapfrogged the whole industry with things like screen res, interaction method, UI, application integration, things that make a really big deifference when people use thier phones.  Again, the challenge is show me a phone that you think is better for that market, either released or announced….  "but I just don\’t buy into this being
    something that is going to reverse world hunger and magically activate
    world peace…… ;-p"No, unfortunately not 😦  But no one claimed it would :-)Now, I\’m off to the pub to celebrate my share price rise 🙂 Imagine… If you\’d bought about 86 AAPL shares on Monday the stock rise would have paid for the iPhone…

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