Apple Announces iPhone and the World Drools

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Apple iPhone credit macuser.comOkay, so you made it pretty clear that you’re not interested in Windows Home Server. I hear you. Forgive me. So what about the new Apple iPhone? In case you have been napping all day, Apple Inc. has finally revealed their first break-the-mold mobile device since the iPod. Phone, internet and an iPod all wrapped up in a to-die-for interface. I’m writing this based only on what Apple has on their site now (not much) and from reading the live stream out of Mac Rumors as it was happening.

Is this party day for the web worker?

Yes and no.

First the yes…

  • That interface. Apple has mastered the phrase “ease of use” to such an extent that it will take years for anyone else to come close, if ever.
  • Huge screen (by phone standards) and incredible resolution (320×480 at 160ppi!)
  • It runs OS X. Everything that’s good about OS X will be good about this phone.
  • Push IMAP. Blackberry? What Blackberry? I could easily see forwarding all my mail to the free push IMAP Yahoo account iPhone owners will get.
  • Google Maps so beautiful you could practically smell the Paris air in that satelite fly-over of the Eiffel Tower shown during the keynote.
  • Slick dialer. Review voicemail out of sequence. A presentation screen in the keynote said that the phone was the killer app and that appears to be true.
  • That whole multi-touch thing. I want to see it in action. Apparently it knows to dismiss accidental touches and other amazing feats.
  • Bluetooth and Wifi (and it automatically switches back and forth between Wifi and GPRS/EDGE).
  • Great battery life of 5 hours talk and 16 hours audio.

So what’s wrong? Not so much “wrong” as questions that are left unanswered as the “Apple Keynote Reality Distortion Field” wears off a bit…

  • $499 for the 4GB model, $599 for 8GB model. Even though it does what no other phone has ever attempted, that’s still steep. And with only 8GB flash memory it isn’t going to replace the iPod anytime soon.
  • Exclusively Cingular. Many have a love/hate relationship with Cingular, with good reason. What about folks who still have time left on their existing Cingular contracts? Will they be able to buy the phone at the contract rate and simply extend the contract, or will they have to wait until contract expiration as is current policy?
  • No mention of data plans. Currently Cingular offers 21 different data plans. 21! Where will the iPhone’s data plan fit in? Somewhere in the $40 range for unlimited data is my guess. I’m also guessing that this phone will get its own plan, to avoid confusion between the existing Data Connect and Smartphone plans. Even Cingular employees are confused about which of their 21 plans is right for which device, and which plans you can buy even though they weren’t meant for your phone but you can get away with it. I hope Apple’s exclusive deal with Cingular included some price protection on the data plan, otherwise Cingular can price it wherever they choose knowing that there is nowhere else for customers to go.
  • Why stop at EDGE? Why not the new high speed 3G network? The speed of the keynote demonstration over wifi was marvelous. What happens when it gets to real world speed over the much slower EDGE connections?
  • I know Apple’s stock went up today…I’m sure the folks who make the iKlear Apple Polish are also celebrating. Anyone who owns an iPod can attest to the fact that the clear plastic around the device scratches and mucks up easily. I know the 3rd party market will respond with at least 30 different products to contain and protect the iPhone well before it actually ships.
  • Of course this phone will sync seamlessly with iCal and Safari. What about PC users? What about folks using different calendar and contact applications? Different browsers (for bookmark syncing)?
  • Will other 3rd party applications be available for the device at launch…such as games, eBook readers, shopping lists, databases? We use our phones for more than just email, phone calls and media.

What do you think about the new iPhone? Is it the next iPod or the next eMate? If you don’t know what the eMate was, my point exactly. We have until June when this ships to figure it all out.

42 Comments

Cade

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Tim

Currently, in a Tmo contract, but will buy out if the iPhone has the following:

* easy to use QWERTY ( I love the keyboard on my SideKick3, and the iPhone needs to be as usable)
* camera – as good or better than the SK3
* Syncability.. – Yah, needs to hit up iCal, E-mail, etc.. it’s a Mac, so it should
* Tethering, I need to be able to tether it via BT to my MacBook while I’m away from my office (not aften, but I need the ability)

I could care less about Top40 ringtones, or even the storage, as I have an iPod now for my desk and car.

Bob Aman

If it really runs OS X, and I can write my own 3rd party apps and run them on the phone, then yes, I’ll get one. A phone with ssh? Heck yeah. That alone would sell me on the device — the eye-candy and UI would just be the icing on the cake. Otherwise, the lack of disk space makes it less useful than my mostly full iPod, which plays music perfectly fine, and it makes it much more expensive than my phone which was $80 (plus already-finished 2 year contract) and has a decent enough interface that I’ve never complained about. I’ve considered smartphones before, but truth be told, I need a cellphone for calls and SMS. I don’t need it to be a camera or a calendar or anything else. I would honestly be buying a smartphone purely for the purpose of being able to fix a server application that went down while I was at the movie theatre. So yeah… if I can put my own apps on it, you won’t be able to keep me away, but otherwise, I’ll wait until Rev. 2 or 3.

dresramblings

This is the device I was hoping would be created soon after I took my job here in Birmingham two years ago. It would definitely make doing work easier, forget the fun that the iPhone will be. The only problem for me will be the costs for the new equipment. The idea of purchasing a Mac at the end of this year looks better and better all the time. The only problem will be the amount of money it will cost to use this thing in the long term, unless people feel like beginning to play catch up… from now.

rickbennett

Jeff, your right that its a Rev A, but that is no excuse, in my opinion. The industry standard is 3G for PDA’s right now, and especially will be in June. We have bottom of the line LG phones that are under $75 that are 3G, this one definitely should be. Its not technology, because its been out for a while. The genius bar tech last night that I was talking to while having my Macbook checked out said it might be battery constraints, but I don’t believe that either.

rickbennett

Judi, you’re basically right about talking to different reps. I for one have pushed several managers to give me straight answers regarding data plans (i.e. which ones you can get away with vs. which ones are designed for the devices).

Basically, here’s how your scenario works out. If you have a smartphone (except for Blackjack) you go with the Smartphone unlimited 19.99 (which is the same as the Media Net Unlimited but with a different name). Blackjack is PDA Unlimited $39.99 (along with Treo(s), 8525). If you tether phone or PDA to laptop its $59.99 Data Connect Unlim, which covers both the laptop and device. Work with your local store manager to figure out the answers to these types of questions, cust. service in my experience is not the best route.

Amie Gillingham

This phone makes me SO happy I stayed with cingulair. I don’t think I’ve lusted this much over a new mac toy since the debut of the Newton!

Judi Sohn

Rick, you’re right…but…If you have a Smartphone (running the Smartphone version of the OS) but it has a lot of the features of a PDA, do you have to go with a more expensive PDA plan? Cingular’s answer: yes. What about if you have a PDA and you tether your device to your laptop. Laptop plan? Cingular’s answer: yes, if you do it regularly. What’s “regularly?” No one will say, and even getting a Laptop plan without a hardware card is a feat.

It may seem like simple questions…but it’s Cingular. You can talk to 3 different reps about which plan you should have (and which plan you can get away with, which isn’t always the same thing) and you’ll have 5 different answers.

I think a lot of folks are only thinking of the iPhone in terms of whether it’s $499 or $599 and aren’t seriously considering the hit that the data plan (and the required voice plan) will add, especially if they’re not used to the way Cingular charges for data (more than the competition). I know my Cingular bill is a pretty consistent $90/month for unlimited data and the cheapest voice plan I could add.

Jeff Ventura

I bet you’ll see a 3G version of this before long. People need to remember that this is v1, or Rev A, of this product. This is just the kickoff to the much longer game. Does everyone remember how the original iPod looked and what it offered? Well, look at the diversification of the iPod line since then, and look how it proliferated and expanded its capabilities. The iPhone will do all of that and more (because it’s a more function-rich product).

I wrote my detailed take on my blog, Graceful Flavor. I spent a lot of time talking to others about this device, and while it appears just amazing — and very well might be just that — there are some questions now that the dust has settled.

If you’re interested, you can read about it here.

rickbennett

My main beef is that it isn’t 3G. Thats a HUGE draw back. There are going to be some really disappointed people when they see how slow EDGE operates with graphic intensive apps compared to 3G. 3G is literally 3X faster than EDGE.

My guess is that its a hook to launch a new version and charge an extra couple hundred dollars for it. The new Treo 750 (3G, Windows Mobile) is $300 more than the 680 (EDGE, Palm).

Other than that the phone looks awesome. 2 finger touch screen zoom! On a phone!?! SICK!

re: Cingular plans, the 21 must include different price points. In reality there are only a couple different ones: Blackberry, Smartphone, PDA, Laptop.

Judi Sohn

Exactly, Allansiew. It took me until the 4th generation to buy my first iPod. I think we can be head over heels in love with the interface, the technology and the doors that it will open without necessarily being ready to throw out what we’re already using day-to-day. There are some that will be the early adopters no matter what and will adjust their routines to compensate for the shortcomings of the device, and there are others who will sit back and wait until the devices better matches their routine before jumping in. Everyone’s “jump in” point will be different, but I think like the iPod, this will be a disruption and will redefine the standard for a mobile device interface.

I think the real question is twofold…will I buy this particular phone this summer? I’m leaning towards “no” at the moment. And…do I see myself eventually buying into the iPhone when some of the initial kinks are worked out? For me, it’s a definite and enthusiastic yes. I love the concepts in this thing, even if I’m not over the top about how version 1.0 will fit in my life. For starters, I think I need to see it accept 3rd party apps and run on a higher speed network first.

allansiew

There are still much unanswered doubts but until it comes to market can we truly know how good it is. Talking isn’t good enough.

Maybe lookout for iPhone 2, adding games into it…

Neal Watzman

On first glance, it appears to have great possibilities as a mobile tool. The interface is so elegant and familiar, and appears very usable. Compared to the interface of current cell phones, which are horrid, this device is generations beyond.

I’ll have to wait to see how it plays out in actual “practice” however. Does it actually work, and how much will work when in use with this cellular carrier? This is a “version 1” model, and I urge caution with many things in their first rev.

peakaction

Honestly, I am so giddy at the sight of this thing that I am willing to overlook its possible faults and sell my blood to get one. The most daunting task associated with this organizational marvel is actually sorting all my various piles of digital garbage so they all work with Apple stuff (going back to iCal from Google Calendar, etc.). I’m hoping by the time it’s all over that I will be motivated to start keeping up with my own crap.

jpcody

Everyone talking about service issues, check out celltradeusa.com. I’m in no way affiliated with them, and I haven’t tried their services, but I’ve heard great things. As a Cingular user, I’m in no need of this, but I really think it could help some people out.

LG

I just finished watching the keynote, and was hanging out until the end for a “One more thing: We’re going to destroy the phone companies with easy integrated VOIP!”

Well, it didn’t come, so I’m left with the question: Where’s the seamless integrated VOIP app!
Let’s hope the SDKs are on their way to developers soon. I use and tolerate SJPhone on my Windows Mobile Device, so even just a straight port of SJPhone will do for now, but what I’d really like is to have VOIP integrated: When Wifi’s available, send the call via the SIP provider you’ve set up. Use all the cool contact features and Ipod pausing/awesome interface as is… No mention of the Australian release date (Asia in 2008, so does that include us?), so by then maybe someone will have taken care of this.

PXLated

I’ll bet there will be a lot of unique things revealed by Apple/Cingular (plans, etc). It’s been said/reported that Cingular had to make network infrastructure changes to accomodate the voicemail feature. That sounds a lot more difficult than just rearranging a plan structure.
———-
On a side note. This is the first phone I’ve seen that will allow my 83 year old father to actually retrieve his voicemail. There’s just no way he groks the current Verizon multi-step system…call VM, enter password, press different keys depending on what you want/need to do, etc.

kelly

I had my eye set on the release of the Nokia N95, until now. I just re-upped for a two year extension with T-Mobile. Guess I’ll have to decide in 5-6 months if a contract buyout is worth it.

Also, first generation hardware from Apple can have it’s issues. Maybe since this has been in development for so long already, they’ve worked the kinks out? We can hope.

Ivan Brezak Brkan

In my opinion, the iPhone will be a hit with two select categories of consumers: 1. Mac users that are fed up with Windows Mobile devices and other mobile devices in general as well as PDAs in terms of syncing problematics and other issues. Just selling the iPhone to the Mac community (expecially here in Europe) will give a positive result to Apple; 2. People that don’t want carry around both an iPod and a mobile phone or those who don’t need the “big” iPod and want something integrated. The price isn’t that steep when we see how much Nokia for example charges for its “3G” devices. It’s not about the technology, it’s about giving people what they want and Apple will hopefully deliver yet again… Now I only have to wait 9 months… :)

Nicole Simon

I think that while I am on the search for probably just a phone like that, I can and have to wait. Basically it is not available in Europe and until it will I will buy a different phone.

Yes, one can drool about it, but being on a PC and wanting a gps in it will make me go for a different phone. Which is why I was hoping it came out earlier – because then those prices would go down sooner for other devices.

Although not being a mac fan, I admit they did something very nice and intergrated- and it will be probably great in a year or two. Besides – very clever to announce it now and give everybody a chance to make up their mind and get those non cingular plans cancelled. ;)

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