Blog Post

iPhone and the End of PC Era

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

Steve Jobs is a great storyteller. If he were a fiction writer, he would stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Tom Clancy and John Grisham. Mesmerizing in prose, master of the climax.

Today’s performance at the Macworld Keynote was no different. We hyper clicked, reloaded websites and traded SMS messages trying to find out more details about new iPhone, the real thing, not the poser that came to market a little while ago.

And how he teased us, taking two hours to let us know that it will be available in June 2007. And even though it is going to cost an ungodly amount, there is a good chance we might get one. But that is not the real story of the day. The real story of the day came at the very end of his keynote.

“From this day forward we’re going to be known as Apple, Inc. We’ve dropped the computer from our name.” And then he quoted ice skating legend Wayne Gretzky. “‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not to where it’s been.’ That’s what we try to do at Apple.”

That also might be the epitaph of the PC era. And it is sweet irony that the company that sparked off the desktop computing revolution is the one announcing its passing.

Dropping Computer from its name is a sure sign that Apple, from this point forward, is a consumer electronics company, a mobile handset maker – one that also makes computer hardware and software as well.

Like the iPod, the iPhone may feed off the computer, but it can leave peacefully without any dependence on a desktop. A Wi-Fi enabled device, it is should ideally be capable enough to do direct downloads from the iTunes store, no desktop necessary. (Time magazine says it is not possible, so who knows!)

Apple is making the phone do all things a computer does – surf, email, browse, iChat, music and watch videos. Nary a keyboard or mouse in sight, and everything running on OS-X.

While I am not suggesting that this replaces our notebooks or desktops for crucial productivity tasks, the iPhone (if it lives up to its hype) is at least going to decrease our dependence on it.

Quotes via Engadget. Photos by Niall Kennedy via Flickr.

63 Responses to “iPhone and the End of PC Era”

  1. A correction of a previous comment:

    “Apple’s distribution model for DRM’d music is that the computer decrypts, the iPod is unencrypted.”

    This is simply not true. DRM-laden files transferred to an iPod remain DRM-laden. The DRM is only removed in memory during playback on both computer and iPod. You can verify this yourself by connecting an iPod to your computer and browsing the contents. If you’ve transferred music purchased at the iTunes music store to the iPod, they’re right there in a hidden directory as protected files with the extension “.m4p” If you copy them to a computer licensed to play them, they’ll play in iTunes, any other computer, they won’t.

  2. Apple will have to sell the phone unlocked in Europe and will have to include 3G. Perhaps that’s why they are delaying the European launch till the end of the year.

    I suspect there’s another reason: they want users in the US to work out the bugs first, then launch in Europe with version 2. The competition that Apple faces in Europe is Nokia with their beautiful (unlocked), Wi-Fi enabled multimedia phones. If Apple releases a buggy product here, they will sell very few iPhones.

    Nokia does not have a large market share in the States so Apple isn’t so concerned about them there.

    As for the exclusive deal with Cingular, haven’t you all heard of “unlocking” phones? Independent phone stores do this all the time, albeit without authorization from the carrier or the manufacturer. So you can unlock your iPhone and pop in your own SIM card.

  3. The real question is just how much OSX is in this phone’s OSX? If Apple can pull off a streamlined OS capable of user-installed applications, then they’re half way to killing the Pocket PC and the UMPC both.

    If they want to control a larger share of the phone market, they will need to sell the units unlocked. Folks aren’t jumping from one carrier to another for the sake of hardware alone. The European model, one has to imagine, will be available unlocked and SIM free, so what price point are we looking at there?

  4. I waited for 5 years to first hand witnessed iPod (video that is) only to be lured so much that I got one immediately after seeing the demo. Now that I can say I will witness this new iphone a lot earlier and probably end up as a worshipper.

    Would iphone bring Apple stock in par with Google?

  5. Lets see. Apple’s 30″ display, Dell’s 27″ dsiplay. Yep it’s just a matter of time before these migrate to the phone. Seriously, these “phone replaces the PC” stories are just silly. Yes the phone lets me do things on-the-go that I couldn’t previously do. But am I going to type out an email, edit a picture, browse the web, etc on the phone if I’m sitting near my desk. NO.

  6. As I was refreshing the hell out of my browser watching Engadget, that Apple Computer, Inc. -> Apple, Inc. part instantly struck me as the biggest news coming out of this. The PC has grown up, grown old, and now it’s grandkids are ready to assume the helm of the computing world.

    This thing may be the 1st Apple product I’ve ever owned…

  7. Paul Roundy

    iTunes seems to be the most important piece of software in the Apple stable. It is the link between their world and the Windows world. By forcing the iphone to sync with iTunes, Apple makes sure they have it on every Windows machine. Once that is accomplished the consumer is more likely to consider other Apple products that are converged on iTunes.

  8. Not that I’m a big Star Trek geek or anything (I, personally, only care for ST:NG), but we do seem to be moving closer and closer to the arena of the Tricorder. And I don’t see how that can be a bad thing.

  9. “You can’t download songs directly onto it from the iTunes store, you have to export them from a computer”

    Think about it.

    Apple’s distribution model for DRM’d music is that the computer decrypts, the iPod is unencrypted. This is why having an unlimited number of iPods tied to your PC is more than a “feature” —it’s just the way the DRM model works.

    Therefore, you could not have the iPod phone download and play DRM’d music directly. This will remain so until:

    (a) Apple negotiates more than 5 “authorized” PC’s, so that you can throw away one “authorization” to your iPod phone; or,

    (b) Apple negotiates a “b-class” authorization mode, wherein b-class DRM authorizations work for special iPod devices that happen to have the necessary decryption computing power and other resources; and,

    (c) Apple builds the necessary tech stacks to accommodate (a) or (b) into the whole model, which includes the Store, iTunes, and the special iPod devices

    Lesson: moving forward, we will be hampered by laws and agreements more so than by technology.

  10. Have to agree with other posters, the PC/Mac is the center (not going anywhere) the phone is a peripheral. The digital hub concept. This will change over time though I suspect.

    Did anyone notice the SMS is iChat? Think of the possibilities since iChat does video conferencing. Now, if that camera was on the front.

    Boy is this going to be fun to watch unfold.

  11. Om – terrific writing as usual. Unfortunately the iPhone will likley be much closer to a phone than a PC – the user tethered to Cingular’s walled garden, rather then getting true open IP access. Won’t pontificate here, but several posts on NextBlitz blog over the past week on this topic for anybody interested.

  12. so, does anyone think that 8GB for a device that is 1/3 video focused enough? i don’t think so. i am seriously concerned apple will not be releasing a touchscreen/widescreen ipod with higher capacity. this seems to be a bigger issue than not being able to dl songs wirelessly or sync via bluetooth. given that they have chosen exclusivity via cingular, they are eliminating a huge consumer base from their target. what will everyone else (not cingular friendlies) who wants a widescreen video device/ipod buy??

  13. Apple saying it’s got (Up to) 5 hours of battery life in a marketing slick, 6 months before the product ships is utterly meaningless.

    It’s bigger (although slightly lighter) than a Treo. Treo’s are too big.

    I am also quite dubious of the utility of a virtual keyboard with no tactile feedback.

    Finally EDGE? No HSPDA? For $500?

  14. 5 hours for phone and Internet; don’t know if that includes use of Bluetooth or wifi. 16 hours for audio (is it something else for video? though can’t fit much in 4 to 8 GB) So battery isn’t bad.

    Size: I think it’s smaller than you think. The iPod is 4.1 x 2.4 x 0.43; the iPhone is 4.5 x 2.4 x 0.46. So it’s slightly taller, and slightly thicker. And weighs the same at 4.8 oz.

  15. Battery is a HUGE issue here. A big bright screen with WiFi and BT will east battery for breakfast.

    Price is a somewhat of an issue here. $500 is an expensive phone. Will cingular offer subsidies?

    Size is a HUGE issue here. That thing makes my Treo look svelte.

  16. Robert Dewey

    End of the PC era? I think not.

    Serious enhancement to the mobile user? I definitely think so.

    While I’m not on the road much, this device would significantly enhance productivity on the go, in addition to being an entertainment device itself. I currently use a Palm PDA, but it lacks the internet access that I need.

  17. Good overview from Time magazine, including this paragraph:

    Weaknesses? Absolutely. You can’t download songs directly onto it from the iTunes store, you have to export them from a computer. And even though it’s got WiFi and Bluetooth on it, you can’t sync iPhone with a computer wirelessly. And there should be games on it. And you’re required to use it as a phone—you can’t use it without signing up for cellular service. Boo.,8816,1575410,00.html