2007-06-26

iPhone - Successful Before Shipping


Apple's iPhone ships this week. It may make Apple a lot of money, it may not, that's not the topic here. The great thing about the iPhone is that it has been successful in pushing the tech industry without ever selling a single one.

Is everything new on the iPhone? Of course not. Only the uninformed and blinded fans don't realize that the iPhone contains a lot of technology already in use in many other phones. However, the iPhone is doing some things different, and here are a few of the items that I think will benefit the industry.


  • No scrollbars - Real estate on mobile devices is very limited. Apple is bolding ditching the desktop and mouse UI and relying on finger flicks for scrolling. I don't know about you, but hitting arrows the size of the text on a keyboard key, next to a screen bezel is not an easy task. Both Windows Mobile and Palm OS use scrollbars. It will be interesting to see how OS X without scrollbars works.


  • Alphabet scrollers - This is new to me at least. The alphabet down the side of the screen allows more precise scrolling while still saving scroll bar space.


  • Contact based dialing - The iPhone brings focus to calling people based on their contact info primarily and their phone number as a last resort. Yes, please.


  • Simple call management - Putting people on hold, swapping calls, merging for a conference call. These are all a button push away. My home phone and desk phone are all capable of these, but I never use them because I can't remember the steps. Something about pressing flash for 1 second, then hanging up, and something. Who's on the other line? I have no idea, I don't have that information available to me. The iPhone looks amazing in this regard.


  • Google maps - Soon all phones will have mapping. Again, this isn't new. Garmin used to make handhelds that included turn by turn directions. Plentry of other phones do as well, but the tight integration is where Apple is pushing the industry. Auto-dialing from map searches. Contact management of businesses. These are the next steps and Apple has them today.


  • .com button. This is a first to me. The keyboard on the Safari browser has a .com button. That's brilliant. It would be even better if it used some Google smarts to figure out when the .com needs to be .org or .edu. Tapping in .com is a pain. This makes it less painful. Have you ever seen a .com button on a keyboard before?


  • Visual voicemail - I want this at work. I want this at home. This has been needed for years. This will be on all phones within a couple of years if Apple hasn't patented it tight.


  • Smarter button locks - * clear to unlock? No thanks. A simple slide of the finger makes sense. I hate the Sony Ericsson phone at work that lectures me everytime I take too many key presses to unlock it. "Next time hit * 1 to unlock". How about next time, you engineer a solution that doesn't require that you remind me how to use it everytime I do.


  • Full web browser, multi-touch to the masses, continued music/phone integration based on lessons learned with the ROKR.


  • Finally, the price point. We still don't have all of the pricing details, but the iPhone will recalibrate phone pricing. Apple is very successful with setting price points and holding them pretty well. The iPhone's price point clears alot of room for other phone manufacturers to begin making money on phones again. I know many people want free phones, but you get what you pay for. Personally, I'll pay for quality, ease of use, tight integration, and good design. It would be great if the iPhone would slow the yearly churn on cell phones. We have enough old electronics in our landfills.

1 comment:

Thaddeus said...

Great comments on the iPhone pricing. I'm with you - I'd be willing to pay money for something of quality. There isn't necessarily a ceiling for me when I'm interested in the features and design that available in something like an iPhone.

Then again... this should already be obvious. I own a Mac.