Monday, July 23, 2007

The iPhone: It's Not Hype

Over three weeks into the iPhone lifestyle and I am not buying the anti-hype hype. The thing does what it’s supposed to and for me it’s a keeper.

It’s the best iPod ever, combined with a phone that has the best portable browser for a phone ever. What exactly is the hype? If it doesn’t have better integration with corporate e-mail by V2, that’s an issue. But otherwise being control freaks paid huge dividends – for the consumer. Here’s why: I think the single thing that differentiates this phone (besides it being the best iPod ever) is that it takes up nearly a gig (ok, more like 3/4ths) for the OS. It’s a computer that has the phone built into it, not the other way around.

Microsoft didn’t have that kind of leverage when creating Windows Mobile and I don’t know if they have a bigger operating system for mobile in testing, but if they do it’s the most hush-hush MSFT beta ever. If Apple solves the corporate e-mail and Edge network challenges, by the time people are ready to upgrade their older blackberries, I think people will jump ship. Seems like the software advantage will be an advantage for a while. OK, so it doesn’t cure cancer. But it’s not hype, it’s the wave of the future.

The genius of Steve Jobs may be how well the “iPod everywhere” strategy is in place. I see them everywhere. Everywhere. More and more people tuning out the world with ear buds. God bless you, Steve Jobs. But this gets people using Apple products on a daily basis and is great for the Apple brand.

One of the comments I hear from all my real world iPhone demos is “it works just like it does in the commercials”. And it’s true, it does. It really isn’t hype. The thing is, if you suck at what your job, your still going to suck, iPhone or no iPhone, but the iPhone is a good gadget.

I don’t need access to corporate e-mail, it works OK. Not great, but good enough for most of what I need, and this will be improved even before the next generation, I’m sure. The Web browser is awesome. Ok, it has some glitches with page loads, and it is unusable for regular use with the Edge network, but on WiFi, very cool. OK, like once a week it has weird glitches and I have to turn it all the way off and back on, and voila, normal operation. It’s not perfect, but I could live with that a couple of times a day even. It’s not like the thing takes a long time to “reboot”.

And besides It really is the best iPod ever. The bigger, improved video screen is a huge addition for me, but I think the bigger deal here may be the touch screen controls. Once you get the hang of it, it seems much improved even over the iPod in terms of controlling your media experience. Ok, so even Steve Jobs isn’t ready for people to ask, “How do I get stuff off of my DVR and onto my iPod/iPhone?” but there aren’t that many people asking right now. That will change.

I believe something else is going to change: Apple is going to start taking some share away from Microsoft when it comes to personal computer upgrades. Mindshare of “having cool products”, coupled with a growing retail presence, adds up to more people upgrading to Apple computers. The “it’s been out 6 months” are starting to trickle in for Vista and apparently some are considering its launch a bust.

I find that ironic, because at least on a new OEM machine, it’s the best version of Windows I’ve ever used. I don’t have to reboot very often, and while some programs do crash, generally performance is good. I could do with more memory (and I have 2GB) and better video memory, but this wasn’t a high end gaming system either (it was ~$1200, without a monitor). What operating system you have is becoming more and more transparent. If it has a web browser and e-mail and you can do what you need to do, and it will be “cooler” than having a windows machine for the next 5 years, I believe barring a major economic downturn, many people will upgrade from Windows to a Mac.

Even one of my Mac friends is expressing some faux bitterness for all the attention the iPhone is getting versus the beloved Mac. But there’s no hype with the iPhone, the product works as advertised. I think it’s a function of timing. There are barriers involved with switching cell phones, even if you’re not switching carriers. Then there’s another barrier, $600. It’s hard to argue with the success of the launch and whether it’s closer to a half a million sold versus a million sold in a little over three weeks, as long as it’s over 500,000 in a little over 3 weeks, that’s a pretty steep ramp towards one million.

When the Mac launched, there just wasn’t the pent up demand for home computing. You could make the argument that there was an opportunity to take advantage of the “cooler stuff” opportunity in the mid to late 1990s, but while the first few years of Steve Jobs return might have been slow, the last few years seem to be bearing more fruit. Apples perhaps.

Looks like Apple is on track for total world domination.

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