Another interesting development with Apple's cell phone is that they signed an exclusivity agreement with Cingular for the American market. Let me say right off the bat that I work for AT&T. My wife has a phone through Cingular and I have one through Sprint. What's that you say, why do I not use my company's product? It's quite simple. We travel a lot and when traveling it is good to know that at least one of our cell phones will work. If we were both on the same network we would not have any sort of backup plan other than driving around to find a pay phone and we all know how hard they are to find these days!
I do not understand why Apple would choose to go this route as it is obvious, to anyone who looks at the numbers, that the iPod did not "explode" onto the market until it became possible to use it with non-Macs. The Apple was out in the marketplace and competing with other MP3 players before it became the dominating player. By allowing Windows users access to iTunes, and the iPod in general, allowed it to gain market dominance. If Apple had never opened it up in this way it would just be another MP3 player. Hey, this same thing worked for AOL! AOL was once a Mac-only application... Wait a minute, maybe they should have stayed that way?
Most cell phone users (about 90%+) want a cell phone that... ready for this? They want a cell phone that works as a phone. That is all they want. They do not want it to do anything other than be a phone. I know this is shocking to some techies out there but it is true and yes, I am part of that 90%.
The vast majority of cell phone users also go for the free phone offered in the contract. Very few people are willing to spend the extra money. The Apple iPhone? It is projected to sell for about $599, not including the service contract.
So, what does the iPhone do that makes it worth $599? Let's break it down:
1) It looks sexy.
2) It's a phone!
3) It's an iPod!
4) It can cruise the web!
Just about every product Apple makes has a high level of what we in the industry call "drool factor". This is the factor that makes people want to buy something because it looks like something they want to be associated with.
"Hey man, what's that cool thing you got there?"
"Yo dawg, it's that crazy new Apple iWidget!"
"Yeah? What's it do?"
"Do? It's an Apple iWidget!"
"Yeah, but... what is it?"
"Heck if I know, but it sure does look cool doesn't it?"
Drool factor will get the item off the store shelves and into peoples pockets but we have a problem here. In the past Apple has always announced a new product just as it goes on sale. This has the effect of getting people to buy it because it is cool and not even thinking about the product, the fact that Apple products are great also helps. Because of the way the FCC works Apple wanted to announce the product before the FCC reviews it. Otherwise we would have read about it from the FCC first and not Apple. If Apple is one thing it is a marketing juggernaut! It simply would not do for a government agency to be the one to talk about an Apple product first. Now we have a dilemma. The product is not due to ship until June 2007. That is a lot of months of thinking. Will anyone still want it by then?
The Apple iPhone is a cell phone, it says so right in the name. The entire screen is a touchpad and it will morph into whatever you need at the time. This is a great move forward in the user interface for cell phones. I do not see anything about a stylus being included but it appears to have some sort of "smart" technology that will recognize key mistakes.
"I'm keep trying to type 'rockbox' and it changes to 'iTunes'. what's up with that?"
The Phone also the ability to 'know' when it is next to your ear and it turns off the display. Hmm... How does it know your ear from your eye?
"Every time I put this thing up to my face to get a better look the screen turns off!"
Turning off the display is a good thing since most states now have laws against using your cell phone while driving. One of the key giveaways (at night) has been that glowing light next to your ear that most cell phones give off.
The iPhone also has a built-in digital camera... Wait a minute... didn't many business ban cell phones with digital cameras in them from the workplace?
The Apple iPhone is also... an iPod!!! From what I have been reading there will be a 4GB model and an 8GB model. Does this mean it will be similar to the Nano except with video and a much better screen? The screen is said to be 320x480 pixels with a built-in system to know when you are holding it in regular or widescreen modes. But, what if you are hanging at an odd angle or lying in bed? Will there be some sort of "lock view settings" button to keep it from changing viewing modes?
The iPhone also has the ability to use "some" methods of broadband access to cruise the web. I don't know about you but... other than reading email how much of the web can you cruise at 320x480? I have a hard enough time cruising the web at 1024x768! I can't imagine cruising the web in a meaningful way at that resolution.
Let's check some pricing for comparison:
1) It looks sexy - You can't put a price tag on this one.
2) It's a phone - Free with a service contract.
3) It's an iPod - iPod Nano 4GB/8GB $199/$249. Full size iPods are much cheaper per MB but these match the size of the storage space in the iPhone better.
4) It can cruise the web - you can get the Cingular 8125 Pocket PC phone with a slightly smaller screen for about $149.
So, for a lot less money you can buy several items that do the same thing. Oh yes, I almost forgot the most important thing about the iPhone. Like its sibling the iPod, its battery is NOT user replaceable.
Do you really want to get off of that 5 hour flight to find the battery in your iPhone is now dead because you needed entertainment in flight?
I hate to say it but I think the new Apple iPhone will be a dud. It costs too much and cheaper alternatives that do the job "good enough" are already on the market. The only innovative thing about the iPhone is the user interface. The market for this product probably can not afford it (teens and college kids) and those who can afford it (business) will not want it.
Apple iPhone Highlights
Multimedia like never before: music, audiobooks, videos, TV shows, and movies
Futuristic touchscreen auto-rotates from portrait to landscape based on how its held
Full HTML web experience with GPS and location based services
2.0 megapixel camera/camcorder
Bluetooth wireless technology and WiFi wireless technology
Full email and messaging experience
Complete synchronization with your Mac or PC
Apple iPhone Advanced Features
Digital Camera - 2.0 Megapixel Camera (1600 x 1200 Pixel Resolution Max), Digital Zoom, iPhoto-like Support
Streaming Multimedia Support - Yes, iTunes and iTV Software Lets You Experience Dazzling Video, Widescreen Format
iTunes Player - iTunes Software Pre-loaded, PC or Mac Sync, Playlists, iBook, Podcasts and Video Support
GPS Services Support - Yes
Bluetooth Wireless Technology - Yes
Two-handed Gaming Experience - Yes
Video Capture / Camcorder - Yes, Long Video Clip Capture, Video Clip Playback
QWERTY Keyboard - Yes, Built Into Touchscreen
Voice-driven Menus - Yes
PC Synchronization - Yes, Synchronize With Your PC or Mac
Apple iPhone Messaging Features
Multimedia Messaging - Yes, Send or Recieve Picture Messages
HTML Web Browsing - Safari Web Browser, Supports Google Maps w/ GPS and LBS, Portrait or Landscape Orientation, HTML
Text Messaging (SMS) - Yes, Supports Multi-session, Touchscreen QWERTY Keyboard
Email Client - Yes, POP and IMAP Support, Supports Real-time Push Email (Like BlackBerry), YahooMail Support
Instant Messenger Built-in - Yes
Apple iPhone Personalization and Fun Features
Polyphonic Ringtones - Yes, Downloadable
Custom Ringtones - Yes
Pre-loaded Ringtones - Yes
MP3 Ringtones - Yes, Downloadable
Ringer Profiles - Yes
Picture Caller ID - Yes
Games - Yes, Downloadable
Customizable Graphics - Yes, Downloadable
Customizable Themes - Yes
Apple iPhone Core Features
Color Main Display - Massive 320 x 480 Pixels (3.5" Diagonal), 16 Million Colors, Auto-rotates to Landscape or Portrait
Color - Black
Style - Candybar Touchscreen
Warranty - Manufacturer Warranty By Apple
Touch Screen - Yes, Built To Ignore Unintended Touches
Speakerphone - Yes
Voice-activated Dialing - Yes
To-Do List - Yes
Voice Memo - Yes
Standard 2.5mm Headset Jack - 3.5mm Headset Jack
Alarm - Yes
Calculator - Yes
Calendar - Yes
Vibrate - Yes
Phonebook Capacity - Limit of Available Memory
Multiple Numbers Per Name - Yes, Plus Web and Email Address, Instant Messenger Handles and More
Conference Calling - Yes, Easy to Add Users To Call
Apple iPhone Battery Life
Battery Type - Li Ion
Talk Time - Up to 300 Minutes
Apple iPhone Technical Specifications
Application Platform - Java
Platform / Operating System - Apple OS X
Data Download Speed - EDGE (Up to 144 Kbps) and 802.11b, g and n WiFi (Up to 54 Mbps)
Network Compatibility - GSM 850, 900, 1800, 1900
Compatible Carrier - Cingular
Ringtone Types Supported - MIDI, iTunes
Internationally Compatible - Yes
Predictive Text Entry - Yes
Built-In Memory - 4GB or 8GB
Dimensions - 4.5 in x 2.4 in x 0.5 in
Weight - 4.8 oz
WiFi 802.11 Compatible - Yes, 802.11b/gn Support
Apple iPhone Compatibility Features
Device Supports Voice Plans - Yes
Device Supports Data Plans - Yes