Now the patents make sense: the iPhone

17 Comments

Iphone The whole iPhone announcement has me wondering if we went to the wrong show!  Ah… at least the patents make sense now. Remember what we saw from the Patent Office last year? Multi-touch screens, proximity sensors, zooming via touch…it’s in the new iPod, er iPhone.

Putting OS X in the phone is a wise decision for at least two reasons: people will need the stability and peace of mind to know their phone will "just work". The ability to easily develop apps for the phone is a huge plus as well.

Personally, I’m a little disappointed in the price (as well as the EDGE support) but Apple smartly made this phone to be the next iPod so you’re getting the convergence benefit. Even without the phone features, the higher res landscape capable screen offers more iPod fun.

Now the question I have is: what’s next for the Zune line? Remember, the Zune runs on Windows Mobile so adding phone capability from a software standpoint isn’t a stretch. There’s no touchscreen on a Zune either so don’t expect a fully competitive product with the first gen line. Can Microsoft counter-punch the iPhone before Apple sells 10 million units by 2008 as predicted?

Question #2: is the iPhone what a Windows Mobile should have been by now?  Crossbow, the next Win Mo version is basically a done deal, so Microsoft might really be behind the 8-ball at this point.

17 Comments

Rick Mahn

Kevin,
I believe that other products on the market have already ‘answered’ the ‘iPhone’ in the aspect of media player meets mobile phone. Palm, Symbian, and most significantly, Windows Mobile have had the ability to sync & play digital audio for quite some time.

Windows Mobile specifically has had this capability from day one. Ease of syncing media has also been there since Pocket PC 2003SE/Smart phone 2003SE because of Windows Media Player 9 sync support for the devices (part of Plays for Sure).

Now sure, you can point out that the audio quality of these devices does not compare well to dedicated media players. You can also point out the lack of storage on existing and past devices, with the most ever offered being 256MB (I believe) though the usual lately is 128MB. You can also point out that the miniSD/microSD/SD/CF storage options don’t always allow for enough real space for all the music one wants to take with. But these are just hardware issues that the Palm/Windows device makers will address.

The real innovation (from what little I’ve seen of the device personally) that the Apple phone bring to the niche is the interface and the physical design. As usual, the interface seems to be a model of simple elegance. The phone itself is stunning to me because of the truly sleek button less (another issue for another time) surface.

BTW – thanks for the great coverage of everything at CES! Made it a lot of fun to read!

Sumocat

@ Tablet PC User
A standard touchscreen offers little more than cursor manipulation, like a single-button mouse. Doesn’t matter how you touch it, a touch is still a touch. Multi-touch, however, can recognize two points of contact and potentially provide an alternate command.

Apple already does this to an extent with their Macbook trackpads (one finger moves the cursor, two scroll the page) but working the screen directly opens up other options. For example, a tap with one finger could trigger a mouse left-click but a tap with two could trigger a right-click. A touchscreen game controller would require multi-touch with one thumb working the pad while the other works the buttons. Also, an on-screen keyboard on a multi-touch screen would work more like a physical keyboard.

Keith

I don’t know of any smartphone/PDA that would last 3 days playing video. My phone lasts 3 days if I don’t use it for anything, and I bet the iPhone will too, but as soon as I start web browsing or making calls it’s going to need charging that night. If all you have a problem with is the fact that it’s a convergence device with only one battery to share among the features then this isn’t a problem new to the iPhone, as you pointed out your phone has the same problem. Pick up one of Duracell’s portable chargers and you’re good to go.

Tablet PC User

@ Keith!

Brilliant idea! How does this make my life more convenient when I have to be tethered to a recharge cable at the airport? My phone has MP3/Video/Camera/Internet/Bluetooth/touchscreen and I get ticked when I have to charge every 3 days of active use.

@sumocat

I’m still waiting to see how the single-touch active digitizer in my tablet PC will result in new ways to interface with XP. If we can’t get our heads around single touch, how is multi-touch going to blow everything away? BTW, I saw the youtube video of the multi-touch http://youtube.com/watch?v=89sz8ExZndc (original video by Jeff Han is at http://youtube.com/watch?v=5JcSu7h-I40&mode=related&search= ) I still can’t see how I’m going to use this for to make my life simpler! Multi-touch was tried back in the 1980s (see http://www.billbuxton.com/leebuxtonsmith.pdf )..which makes multi-touch a resurrection and not an innovation.

I’m curious though…does the proximity sensor emit any electromagnetic-waves to detect location? Any ideas if this new technology will cause any effects on humans?

Sumocat

Forgot to answer the questions:
#1 – Zune cannot compete against this device. That’s not a slam; Microsoft simply cannot make a smartphone without stepping on all the guys already making WinMo smartphones. They only entered the MP3 player market directly because no one could make a dent in Apple’s market share. Apple is entering the smartphone market as a new player in the field. Despite their superior device, they won’t command the same dominance, at least until it becomes apparent that OS X beats the pants off of Windows Mobile.

#2 – See my previous sentence.

Sumocat

Aaron: “Pardon me Mr. Jobs, haven’t we had touch screen navigated by just a finger for going on a year on the UMPCs, or am I missing something?” –You’re missing the part where you can use two fingers to manipulate data, like zoom in and out of images. That opens a new realm of interface options for developers.

Tax Man

I currently use a Cingular 8125. When the iPhone is available, the 8125 is getting replaced!

Keith

Paul-
All GSM phones in the US do in fact use SIM cards. In fact, it’s such a non-issue that I would have been surprised if Apple bothered to mention it. You can buy unlocked phones and use them with any GSM carrier you like, though the actual phones you tend to buy from them tend to have customized software and they don’t always play nice on other networks (the T-Mobile Sidekicks, for instance, lose all but their phone capabilities if you use them on any other network FWIU; I think that’s an exception rather than the norm, though).

Aaron

I must admit, the iPhone is a beauty. All the Mac fan boys (and girls) at my job where all over me about it when I came through the door. It is a sweet looking device.

But one thing bugs me. In the description on Apple’s website, they are touting the touch screen using just a finger as a technological breakthrough by Apple. Pardon me Mr. Jobs, haven’t we had touch screen navigated by just a finger for going on a year on the UMPCs, or am I missing something?

Now on to my Microsoft rant. And please keep in mind I love Windows. But ….

Bill, what are you thinking man? Regardless of the ultimate price of this thing, it is just flat out beautiful. With all the minds at Microsoft, couldn’t somebody have thought of this before? I know, MS doesn’t make hardware, but you couldn’t encourage more innovation from your partners?

And aren’t you learning anything from the success of your own Xbox and now the Xbox 360 and Zune that maybe it is time to seriously start rethinking your “partner” relationships and start doing more stuff on your own? Still would be the same company.

As far as I’m concerned CES is over. There will not be any news of as much cultural/consumer importance coming from there for the rest of the week that will overshadow what Apple has done. I don’t care how nice the new Toshiba looks or how great the new HP tablet is.

Paul J Shadwell

The iPhone looks great and I love the interface. But as usual, it looks like we will not see this device in Europe for some time, if at all, we’re still waiting for PS 3s and Zunes to show up on our shores.
In Europe, it would certainly need to have a SIM slot somewhere and I don’t see it in the details here unless I missed it. Having a SIM card means that you don’t have to change your number or contract everytime you get a new phone, something I’m surprised hasn’t caught on in the States, you do seem to have some restrictions there imposed by the mobile phone companies.
Still, it’s a little retribution for what we don’t have here such as iTunes and xBox Live downloadable movies and TV shows.
Keep up the good work James and Kevin, I’m loving the regular updates from the show.

Keith

Tablet PC User:
If you run down your battery, just use an AC adaptor. I’m sure those, along with car adaptors, will be readily available from multiple companies.

According to new info on engadget, the iPhone will be much more limited software wise than a smartphone. It sounds like it’s actually closer to the high feature consumer phones (Sidekick, EnV, etc), which is a red flag for me considering the price point. No way I’d spend that much and *still* need a PDA for Office apps.

Mickey Segal

I went through the videos at http://www.apple.com/iphone/. The device and software are well done, assuming you want a device that size. Multi touch has finally arrived, and it would be nice to see that on Tablet PCs. Decelerating to a halt after a flick is also nice.

But Web browsing was like looking at Web sites through a keyhole. Typing with an onscreen keyboard is slow, and doing so with a nontransparent chubby finger will not be simple. I wonder if you can use a stylus. I wonder if there is any handwriting recognition. iPhones are clearly much more limited than a UMPC or a small Tablet PC, though much smaller.

The software suite is quite nice. If someone does such a suite for Windows they can clean up on markets that will be up for grabs as companies such as Skype keep messing up.

The iPhone runs a subset of OS X. Making it dockable and usable as your main computer would also be great. That works for the LS800 reasonably well, and seems like the ultimate model, but these devices may just be too limited.

Tablet PC User

Is it me or does the iPhone UI look just like Vista’s Aero Glass?

I hope everyone realizes that iPod success ≠ iPhone success. With the iPod, you can give one to a family member and it won’t disrupt their life. The iPhone means, a new phone number for new cingular customers, new business cards (telling family/friends, updating phone records) a two-year contract with a phone company you may not trust or like, lousy 2G EDGE (dial-up speeds), and canceling old contracts with current non-cingular phone companies (add $150-$200 to the iPhone cost).

Also, the iPhone doesn’t have a user replaceable batter (USB charging only). So, after a long flight of music and videos on the iPhone, I’ll be SOL since I can’t use my phone to tell someone to pick me up from the airport. I’m sure that video will eat that iPhone battery alive!

As for WM and the Zune, I hope that MS learns from the iPod and not let this slip by! Just put an XBOX 360 UI on a new zune with one of the blades as a phone blade, throw in a 30 gb SSD HD, WiFi 802.11b/g/n, 3G/4G, LONG batter life and have it carrier subsidized (GSM/CDMA for under $400.00). But i’m sure that will have some battery life issues as well.

Got to hand it to APPL…a very well kept secret and a very good 1st design (Vista’s Aero Glass)! A+

Josh Pollard

I completely agree with Keith. The answer to question 2 is an overwhelming YES! Microsoft has had YEARS of time to get to this point. Unfortunately there hasn’t been much change in WinMo between WinMo 2002 and WinMo 5. Crossbow doesn’t appear to be too much of an improvement either.

Now you might think I’m an Apple fanboy with all these comments, but you’d be wrong. I’m a .Net developer who is on his 3rd WinCe/WinMo device, including my current XV6700. It’s time we get some form of hard drive in WinMo based phones and a vastly improved media interface. A higher-res screen and significantly increased battery life would be really nice too. Especially considering the battery life on the iPhone.

C’mon MS! Get with the program!

Lorie Ghamy

Daily SCOOP ! A Mac Tablet !

And what about the nice Axiotron ModBook Tablet PC (Apple & OSX inside) !

A must here. But the nicest is’nt at Las Vegas CES but at San Franciso Apple COnvention. Change your GPS !

http://eshop.macsales.com/shop/ModBook

Michael Venini

Can you run OSX programs on this? Or is this going to be a locked down version of OSX.

On The Zune, you can’t run Windows Mobile Apps.

Keith

The answer to question #2 is an emphatic yes. Microsoft and their hardware partners should have taken advantage of the massive rise in high-end consumer phones instead of just relying on business appeal. Plus the fact that it runs OS X gives me dreams of running Excel on it with a bluetooth keyboard/thumbboard. As well as Microsoft’s XBox division handles some things, I was hoping they were finally getting the hang of how to sell to the consumer craving cool, but it’s obvious it hasn’t permeated the entire corporation yet.

Comments are closed.