Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Apple had revolutionized cell phones

For those that haven't seen it yet, Apple released the iPhone, which is truly a fundamental change in cellphones.  There are lots of comments on the phone, so allow me to offer my opinions on a few things:

  • No UMTS data.  The main argument here is that Apple released a revolutionary phone, but it's not a "3G" phone because it doesn't have UMTS (the generation beyond Cingular's current EDGE high-speed data) support.  However, the iPhone has yet to be reviewed by the FCC -- that's likely why no one found the filing on their site -- and is not due out until June, so it certainly is possible that Apple could easily add a UMTS radio.

  • Cingular only.  Quad-band GSM automatically makes it a world phone because most of the rest of the world uses GSM; strategically it's the play that I would have made, Cingular is the largest GSM carrier in the US with the best coverage, and Apple has history with Cingular.  All of that having been said, I'm sure that Apple will consider a CDMA version if the demand is there.

  • You can't load your own applications, which makes it not a "smartphone."  Frequently smartphone users are adding applications because the base functionality included with the phone is limited and/or does not suit their needs.  With all of the items included in the iPhone, the standard OSX ease of use, and the implementation of widgets that can presumably be added and removed by the user, it will be interesting to see if there really are a lot of "applications" that are missing.  Also, I think it's a bit premature to say that someone won't figure out a way to add applications to the phone once it's out in the wild.

  • It doesn't support MS Exchange or Blackberry.  Ok, it's certainly not too surprising that it does not support MS Exchange and I guess it might not be too surprising that it does not support Blackberry as it has Yahoo "push" IMAP and presumably will have some sort of "push" solution for .Mac mail.  Additionally, if Gmail were to implement a push IMAP or POP solution, I'm guessing the phone would support that too considering it will support POP and IMAP natively.  Here's my biggest guess: some CEOs, COOs, and executives of companies are going to want this device and that's going to force their IT departments to either open up IMAP and POP access or look at solutions such as Consilient to push their mail.

Here are some points that I've come up with:

  • How is Cingular going to treat this device on their network?  If they class it as a smartphone like the Treo, Nokia 9300, etc., then the data plans will be in the $30 per month range.  If, however, they class it as a phone like the Cingular 2125, then the unlimited data plan will be $19 per month.  Chances are good that Cingular will choose the former because of the profitability of data plans and the fact that they can't hit it for a Blackberry data plan, but it would be a lot more palatable to a consumer like me if they only charged $19 per month for data.

  • What's the price going to be unsubsidized?  While phones like this are great to get new subscribers and to get existing subscribers to come in a re-up their contracts, the unsubsidized price is always nice to know -- I've purchased quite a few GSM phones from Craigslist and from LetsTalk unlocked and have generally been happier with them.  My guess would be that the prices would go up by about $200 per phone if they were purchased without a Cingular contract.

  • .Mac integration.  There's been a lot of buzz about iPhone integration with .Mac, but little was mentioned about this at MacWorld -- I think there is a very good chance that more and more information about .Mac integration will come out as the phone gets closer to actual launch.

  • Insurance.  My guess is that this phone is going to be very hard to insure through normal Cingular insurance and that probably the best bet is going to be to purchase the AppleCare policy with the phone.  I could be wrong about this, but just imagine how expensive it would be to replace the screen on one of these things.

Apple's built a great platform for the future of the iPod as well -- I would guess that it won't be too long before we see next generation iPods that have many of the features that are included in the iPhone, just without the calling capabilities.  If Apple were really thinking, they could replace all of the GSM and EDGE radios with, say, and 802.11n radio and create a pretty effective Nokia 770/800-killer and possibly even a UMPC killer, depending on the number of features they would include in such a device.

This will be very interesting to observe and it will also be interesting to observe how Nokia, Motorola, RIM, and all of the others respond with their offerings.


No comments: