Today Apple officially released the iPhone 3G – the next generation of the iPhone. Adding 3G speeds, support for 3rd party software, Assisted GPS, combined with a major drop in the pricing takes the iPhone to the next level – and it was already a pretty convincing package to begin with.
Vodafone New Zealand will be selling the iPhone in-store on July 11th. There will be two devices available: the iPhone 3G 8Gb for USD$199 and the 16Gb model for USD$299. This pricing is for an iPhone on a 24 month contract. It sounds like you can still purchase an iPhone without a contract (i.e. for prepay use) for somewhere between NZD$800-$1,000. There is no news from Vodafone NZ on the plans being offered.
So – July 11th it begins.
Why all the hype? Has Apple's marketing got to me? Well, yes it has. But it is not just hype, it is based on some pretty convincing facts. The iPhone package has already redefined the mobile phone – it is now redefining our expectations of mobile computing full-stop. Let me explain…
The iPhone hardware gives the average person unprecedented power in their pocket, and now for a pretty impressive price:
- The large Multi-Touch screen
- The Accelerometer that detects device movement and rotation
- The large storage space – up to 16Gb
- Assisted GPS
- 3G, WiFi, Bluetooth
- Unprecendented battery life for such hardware: 300 hours standby, 10 hours talk time, 7 hours video, 24 hours audio
All of these hardware features are packed into the slickest phone design ever. As the Senior Vice President of Walt Disney stated: "It really has the ability to pack the power of a laptop into the size of a smartphone." The hardware features combined with the OS X operating system means that Apple potentially fill more than the mobile phone space, but also move into the ultra-mobile computing space. With rumored 7 inch devices running the same multi-touch interface it will be interesting to see what comes next from Apple in this area.
It is not just about hardware with Apple – their software is consistently beautiful and simple. It is intuitive and appealing. The software on the iPhone covers off the needs of 80% of the market:
- PIM software to manage Contacts, Calendar, Email and Notes
- Full over-the-air push support for PIM info with Microsoft Exchange and MobileMe (Apple's new dotMac replacement)
- Desktop data sync with Microsoft Outlook and Apple software
- SMS and Voice Calls using the slickest interface I have ever seen for basic Phone features
- Safari browser offering desktop browser support on a mobile device. The webpages scales and zooms/pans providing a truly intuitive way to surf on a small screen. This feature alone has already redefined browsing from a mobile device, making it a realistic option for the first time.
- iTunes software allowing the full iPod functionality with an advanced interface.
- iPhoto support for viewing or managing your photos on the run. Combined with the inbuilt camera this is a slick combination.
- Maps with GPS – view an address on a map, plot and navigate your course. View your current location at any time. Full Google Maps support.
- A dedicated YouTube program optimises your YouTube experience allowing you to easily locate, view and bookmark your favorite movies.
- Office file viewers are included for Word, Excel and Powerpoint as well as Apple iWorks files.
And that just scratches the surface. These tools are not new in themselves – but as usual Apple takes them to the next level. It is a pretty convincing toolkit in your pocket, covering off most of the features the average user will ever need in a mobile device. And that is before 3rd party apps enter the picture.
It is pretty clear that the Apple is now aggressively going after market share. Within the first 8 months of its launch the iPhone had already claimed over 28% of the smartphone market in the US, second only to RIM (Blackberry). At that point it was not available in other countries. As of today the iPhone is available in 6 countries, on July the 11th it will be launched in another 14 countries, and within a few months it will available in 70 countries worldwide. Combined with the significant price drops and locked ceiling for pricing worldwide we can see the picture.
Will Apple really start to dominate the mobile phone market? Yes I believe it will. The rapid adoption of the initial iPhone already paints the picture. More than that however, we can see that the iPhone lives up to the hype, receiving rave reviews from satisfied owners and critics alike. I have never seen a single device get so much attention from the media or the average person down the street – not even from Apple, who seem to be at the forefront of marketing the launch of such devices (eg the iMac and iPod).
Let's have a look at some of the target audiences Apple is obviously going after…
Let's be honest – Apple already had most kids with the iPod, and the iPhone is an even more compelling music experience. Now add the coolest phone with SMS and email. Now add the slick games powered by the accelerometer. What about the inbuilt YouTube support and the best mobile browsing experience? Now add the 3rd party software that has been launched – student learning tools, social networking software, sound mixers and much more. Do I need to say any more?
Sharp pricing. "Push" email, contacts and calendar. Microsoft Exchange support. 3G data transfer speeds. Multiple secure networking options and Cisco VPN support. Remote device wipe. Support for Microsoft Office documents. MobileMe for remote sync, backups and anywhere/anytime access to data using the slickest browser-based toolset. Apple has ticked off the list of most business and corporate requirements. The overall packaged software combined with the slick hardware and pricing model is sure to be appealing to business users.
It is obvious that developers are a key target with this launch of the iPhone. The SDK (Software Development Kit) has been well publicized and marketed. The Apple WWDC was sold out for the first time ever and Apple has made no secret of this. The App Store joins the gap between the developers and the end users. And Apple is definitely showing off the 3rd party apps that have been developed, and emphasizing over and over again the short amount of time developers had to work on their application and how easy they found it. We can see that Apple are trying to get a singular message across to developers – developing for the iPhone is quick and it is easy. Whether that is true or not, developers are definitely listening and are more interested in Apple now than ever before. But again, this is based on more than just Apple's marketing hype.
The iPhone offers a pretty compelling picture to developers. The hardware is very powerful for a mobile device, and gives developers the ability to tap into features they have not had access to before – such as multi-touch, the accelerometer, and location awareness. Apple is making it easy for developers to work with this type of hardware – and as a result we are seeing some impressive and innovative software coming to the iPhone that we have never seen on any other platform. Apple helped by getting the hardware form-factor right in many respects as well – for example the screen resolution is large enough to create compelling and usable software that can be navigated with a finger, while still small enough to fit into a pocketable device. It is also powerful enough in terms of processing and graphics to remove limitations that developers were previously hindered by in the mobile space.
Apple has also cleverly architectured the iPhone operating system. It is not just a cut-down and limited version of their desktop OS – the core layers are exactly the same. It will be easy for developers to migrate from the iPhone to full OS X desktop development – a very clever strategy from Apple that they will move on more in the future I am sure. Apple is also clearly documenting and communicating their API, their conventions, and placing and enormous emphasis on best practice which will standardise the development efforts and the resulting software. I like the way that Apple brings their simplicity and clarity to the development community – it is a much clearer picture to navigate than trying to learn to develop for other mobile platforms from scratch.
Combine the above facts with the potential market share that the iPhone will pick up over the coming months. For a developer choosing a target platform for their software the choice is becoming pretty obvious. While the iPhone may not be their only target platform it will likely need to be at the top of their list.
During Bill Gate's final publicly scheduled speech as a full-time Microsoft employee, he acknowledged that Microsoft's success is 'due to our relationship with developers.' Apple may well be saying the same thing in a few years time.
Apple has been consistently wowing us for the past few years – OS X, then the iMac, the iPod, and now the iPhone.
It has been clear for a while that mobility is the future of computing. And the iPhone is emerging as the King of mobility. This device is indeed a game changer. It is more than a mobile phone – it is a new platform.
The iPhone takeover begins.