Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Portal to the Internet or just another fancy phone?

Steve Jobs announces that Iphone will come with a full version of the Safari browser and that it will primarily rely on webapps. Webware says it is revolutionar, but Compiler says Iphones lack of offline storage will limit what developers can do.

Nothing follows.


Blogger Skip said...

The iPhone really does seem to be a product without a market. The display is supposed to be a big feature of it, but since it shares real estate with the buttons it's always going to be dirty. And I'll be surprised if buttons with no tactile feedback on a phone end up flying.

Add in the lack of storage and extensibility and I'm at a loss as to what the non-fanboy will want.

6/12/2007 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Macklin said...

The thing is also an iPod. It comes with 6 to 8 GB of storage. It will connect and sync to your desktop giving you access to all of the storage you want.

I can't imagine watching a tremendous amount of video on a screen that small except maybe on a flight without a movie. In other words very rarely. In which case I would have no choice but to clean the screen.

6/12/2007 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

I think people are looking for constant connectivity and the full functionality of a general purpose computer in a small form factor. So far, vendors have attempted to supply a subset of that. The inclusion of Safari on the Iphone means that you can not only program against the browser to create client apps, but that the browser can access server-based webapps that can display on such a small screen.

The lack of local resources, like storage, on an Iphone, means you can't really treat it like a general purpose computer client. But suppose one were able to offer a significant subset of functionality. Would people buy it? Personally I can't operate without a full-featured mobile computer. So the only wireless future for people like me will probably lie in technology that is still commercially unavailable like flexible, paper thin displays or virtual reality goggles or some such. But others may find the Iphone enough, and that may be a big enough market.

6/12/2007 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Macklin said...

Yes, I suspect that anyone who thinks iPhone is going to replace their laptop is going to be seriously disappointed.

Personally I wouldn't be terribly upset that my phone couldn't run Office or PhotoShop.

6/12/2007 06:25:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

What the blackberry and treo has shown, is that small devices with keyboards are easier then devices without.

Even with the best online web apps, this device appears to be a 90% read, wich makes it just like an iPod combined with simple cellphone. To be a desktop replacement, you need to have a easy way to enter information.

6/12/2007 07:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wretchard, For the price, Closest thing yet, w/optional touchscreen.

6/12/2007 08:00:00 PM  
Blogger jafco said...

I'm a "fanboy" heh - so you can discount my take. I would love to have this thing when I travel - 4 ounces versus nearly 5 pounds (yes I have a Mac portable) that allows access to the 'Net, music or video, and yes - phone calls. The input I typically do in these situations is minimal, so a few taps will suffice. Now, if I were responding to numerous emails in more than grunts, I too would rather have a full keyboard. CrackBerry's dinky little keypad won't do it for me. I think there is a big market for this thingy, if it works as advertised.

6/12/2007 08:30:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

6/13/2007 01:15:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Skip notes that the iPhone seems to be a product without a market, but I suspect that there very much is a market for this product. I believe BusinessWeek reported that Apple's planning on having 3 million available at launch.

The supposed limitations of the iPhone aren't really relevant in the large scheme of things. The iPod itself was considered quite limited: no FM tuner. Many people thought this was huge, it turned out to be of no consequence. Those who've followed Steve Jobs can see that often times EXCLUSION is a significant part of product design for him. Good products DON'T do everything. Thye do a few things in a way that excites or intrigues a large segment of the population without confusing them.

Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft, tried pooh-poohing the iPhone under the argument that it lacked a lot of features business/enterprise users would want. Pffff. Big deal. It has the kind of features which will make the kids and spouses of businessmen want one. THAT matters.

The iPhone is a clever, show-off product. It allows people to do a few pretty cool things and wraps it all up in a pretty little package with a tremendous amount of novelty. It's an attempt by Apple to do what they are most good at: creating intuitive software in an attractive package. You can point to all sorts of supposed inadequacies, but that won't keep people from buying it.

It won't do what a full-featured personal computer can do, but I have to say that it least having the means to see something on the web or play some tunes or watch a video is a nice capability to have in a little, single device in my pocket.

Ultimately, however, the iPhone will, I'm quite sure, pave the way towards a device which is a bit larger but still smaller than most laptops. Most laptops are just way too heavy and way too big; dropping optical and harddrives will be a big step in the right direction, particularly as the internet becomes more fully featured, connectivity becomes more ubiquitous, and flash memory becomes ever cheaper. If touch screens continue to improve, I'd expect the elimination of a physical keyboard. Then, all you need is some flash, a very efficient CPU-FSB-RAM, a touch screen, wireless and a battery. Look for such a product to arrive very soon.

When the hardware is ready Apple we be one of the few in the market who will be able to create the one thing that many other consumer electronics firms will not be able to create inhouse: compelling software that ties it all together.

6/13/2007 01:18:00 AM  
Blogger Elmondohummus said...

Just a fancy phone.

I work in support at a university, and our Mac side of the house is remarkably tepid on the iPhone; reactions range from "meh" to (*sound of human making raspberry "Pffffffft!" noise*). And that's from the normally receptive Apple fans in the house.

One personal complaint: Cingular/AT&T (not Apple themselves, admittedly) wants to try to market the iPhone as an enterprise device. While I normally don't care how a provider chooses to market a given device, I think it's ridiculous to try to call the iPhone "Enterprise" when it's VPN capabilities are up in the air. No ability to VPN to secure the connection, no cause to call it Enterprise, and until Apple announces whether it can or not, there's zero justification for Cingular to try and paint the device as such.

I actually think it won't sell all that hot. Sure, folks'll buy it, but I think the numbers will be much smaller than the optomistic "3 million units available at launch" would indicate. Until enterprise capabilities are proven, it's a regular consumer device, and in that niche, it's price keeps it out of all but the richest hand (and the hands of the fanboy club, but those numbers aren't profound). I don't see it breaking the 1 million sold units barrier until months, if not over a year, after its release.

Of course, I may be wrong, but that is what I predict. Time will tell.

6/13/2007 06:54:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

James is correct when he says that kids and spouses will WANT one. But for kids SMS is a key feature, and I still don't understand how the text entry will work. Wives will want one, till they find out its $500 more thena pink RAZR.

If this was a $200/$300 phone, it would sell like hotcakes.

I can hear parents across the land saying "You lost the $99 phone I got you in 2 months, no way I'm paying $500 for a phone that you will lose that quickly."

6/13/2007 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger Stephen Macklin said...


I think it depends on perspective. If you look at iPhone as an upgrade to your $99 cell phone it seems like quite a stretch.

If you look at as an upgrade to your $300 ipod it's not so bad.

The thing about iPhone that has "fan boys" (guilty) so excited is not the idea of a pocket sized MAC it's the idea of bringing the "Apple experience" to another part of their lives.

6/13/2007 09:22:00 AM  
Blogger James Kielland said...


Text entry will work via the touch screen. In scenarios where you need to enter text, such as messaging or writing an email, a keyboard comes up on the screen and you type onto the displayed keyboard. Which is really one of the great advantages of touch screen: the available keys and their size is a function of software.

6/13/2007 11:02:00 AM  
Blogger John said...

Thanks for the answers.

I've tried numerous onscreen data entry tools from graffiti to Fitaly, and though I could do ok, its just easier to use a blackberry-style keyboard. But for the majority of users who need basic text entry, the small keyboards have become very popular.

Stephen makes an excellent point about extending the "iPod experience" to other parts of thier lives.

There seems to be a piece missing from this puzzle and I can't put my finger on it. Perhaps it reminds me of a Segway. Critical success in a niche market, but never the cross-over success.

6/13/2007 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger Stephen Macklin said...


I think the biggest thing that is missing is network flexibility. For me the biggest barrier - beyond price even - is that it's locked in to Singular/AT&T. That fact prevents me from even doing the math to see if the price is worth it.

6/13/2007 01:22:00 PM  

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