Well, Apple finally released a mobile phone device. It’s called the iPhone. I followed the play-by-play yesterday on Engadget. Lucky for me, I made a “bet” on Apple stock before Jobs’ keynote speech and bought a big chunk of Apple stock ahead of time. By the end of the keynote, the stock was up almost 8%. Big mobile phone competitors like Motorola, Nokia, and RIM (makers of Blackberry) all took hits on their stock prices with RIM losing almost $2 billion in market capitalization.
The iPhone is a pretty compelling product. It does a lot of stuff but it’s “killer app” is making phone calls. I hate my current phone, which is the Motorola RAZR. Everyone seems to have this phone, but it’s a piece of crap. The call quality sucks. The buttons suck. I sync’d my list of contacts to it and now all 400 numbers are in one big list which is nearly impossible to scroll through to find a contact I want to call. The iPhone fixes all of this. Watching the various demos in the keynote, it was really amazing to see how much they’ve simplified various tasks on the phone, such as creating a conference call or putting someone on hold. I don’t know how to do either of these things on my current phone. With the iPhone, it’s blindingly obvious - no reading of the manual required.
The phone includes some pretty awesome Internet capabilities as well, including a fantastic browser and integration with POP email and Google Maps. The Google Maps part is almost worth the price of the phone. Some of this stuff is already available on other phones, true, but their implementation of it is so pathetic that you can’t use it. The iPhone makes good on all of the promise that mobile communicators hold.
The iPhone is available exclusively from Cingular. To make some of the advanced features work, apparently Cingular had to innovate at the network level. So essentially, unless other networks do the same, Cingular is going to be the only network with this phone for a long time. The exclusivity is already through 2009. I don’t really have a problem with this because pretty much all networks are equally bad. They are all annoying. They all drop calls. They all have poor customer service. So the only issue I have is that a single network tends toward monopolistic practices like price fixing, etc. If you can’t get the iPhone service from anyone else, then you are stuck paying whatever they charge.
I have a few nits to pick with the phone, though. The first is that this phone better be developer-friendly. I mean, what’s the point of putting OS X on the phone and utilizing all of this power if you aren’t going to let developers write widgets and small games, etc. for it? I happen to believe that Apple will release some sort of SDK for the iPhone and possibly even before the phone ships.
The next issue I have is that they are launching only 4 and 8 gigabyte models. I’m not sure how useful the phone is going to be in iPod mode if that is all the storage space they are giving you. I mean, the cool thing about the iPod is that it has so much space you can cram your whole music library and quite a few videos into it. My music is about 25 GB right now so they have to really expand this out in order for me to really use the iPod part of it.
Some people are complaining that the phone is a 2G phone and not a 3G phone. Big deal. Most 3G phones can’t even make decent phone calls - I could care less about any super advanced 3G features. Apple is starting off by perfecting the basic stuff and I’m sure a 3G offering is coming down the road. No hurry.
The phone is coming out in June. My current Cingular contract runs through December. Given that the next Macworld will be in January, I’m thinking I’ll wait until then to buy my iPhone and pick up the latest and greatest at that time.