Steve Jobs’ WWDC keynote, demo of upcoming Leopard and Safari for Windows may have generated a lot of oohs and ahhs, but it was towards the end that His Jobness revealed the game plan to irreversibly change the world of wireless.
No one knows for sure how many million units of the iPhone Apple will sell – 5 or 10 million in the first year, an insignificant number when compared to over 950 million phones shipped worldwide every year. It is still not clear if and when Apple will be able to sell this device in Europe, Asia and rest of the world.
And still, it will challenge some of the conventional notions of the wireless business, take the hidebound industry by the scruff of the neck and give it a good shake. Nokia will join Microsoft and Dell in experiencing Apple envy.
“I am certain that the mobile telecoms world will count its time in two Eras. The Era BI: time Before the iPhone, and the ERA AI: time After the iPhone,” writes Tomi T Ahonen, co-author of book, Communities Dominate Brands, who believes that even media business should be very very worried about iPhone.
A true web applications platform for the mobile
“We have been trying to come up with a solution to expand the capabilities of the iPhone so developers can write great apps for it, but keep the iPhone secure,” he said. “… And we’ve come up with a very innovative new way to create applications for mobile devices… it’s all based on the fact that we have the full Safari engine in the iPhone. And so you can write amazing Web 2.0 and AJAX apps that look and behave exactly like apps on the iPhone, and these apps can integrate perfectly with iPhone services.” (Steve Jobs keynote at WWDC via Engadget.)
Charles Ying thinks that Apple just reinvented the mobile applications platform. “This isn’t mobile Flash, mobile Java, or even the mobile Web. It’s the real Web, the real deal,” he writes. (True web should also mean 3G and not pokey EDGE connections that the device currently offers, one major Achilles heel of this device.) The ease, with which developers can develop and deploy apps on both web and the phones, will put pressure on other companies (and OS vendors) to play catch-up or lose developer attention.
Break the Wireless Walled Gardens
iPhone is fully functional iPod, with full tracks of music. Do you need to download ring tones for $2.99 a pop, when you get a full song for a third of that price? Ditto for Wallpapers, and themes, and everything else that is being sold on the carrier deck.
Shift of control to the customers
If the embedded (Safari) browser if it performs the way as hyped by Jobs & Co., will give us the choice-control we have on the web. Search engines to web sites – nothing will be determined by the wireless carriers who have thus far done nothing but create barriers between what we want, and giving us what they want to sell.
Slow demise of subsidized, boring phones filled with bloat ware
The introduction of the unlocked iPhone will do two things – it would basically get US buyers savvy to the idea of buying full priced unlocked phones. Secondly, it is going to cause a behavior change – of buying phones instead of freebies. (Will iPhone save the handset business?)
Keep it simple or else
One of the lasting (at least for me) changes that iPhone will bring to the mobile market is simplification. Their new user interface is going to make complex mobile services relatively simple, and can have the same impact as Blackberry had on the corporate market.