january 9, 2007

So, Apple finally releases details on its iPhone. The gadget that a lot of people (including myself) have been waiting to see. I am a big Apple fan. I dig their computers. I dig their iPods. But the iPhone? It did not really strike a chord with me. Actually, after I saw the specs and the pictures, the first word that came to mind was "meh". First, the good stuff that I find really cool. It runs OS X. I don't know to what extent that it actually "runs" OS X, or how stripped down the version of OS X is on the phone. It is still rather cool that it does -- I am wondering if there is access to the lower layers of OS X (ssh perhaps?). iPod plus mobile plus camera. I don't know the quality of this two megapixel camera, so I can't comment on that. But, the fact that there is finally an iPod phone, that is rather cool. Wifi. Yes, built-in Wifi is a damned good feature. The Apple interface. Nothing beats the ease of use of an Apple interface. From what I see of the interface on the iPhone site, it is nothing less than easy-to-use -- and gorgeous to boot. It is a quad-band GSM phone. GSM is the way to go. And lastly, it is great that Apple is giving out push IMAP email -- and that it is through Yahoo! Mail. Now, the bad stuff. First and foremost: The thing is honking big. Sure, it is really thin, but the thing is huge. I could not imagine carrying that thing around with me. The mobile connection speed is only EDGE, not 3G! Yikes. For a media box, even if it has Wifi, I would expect nothing less than 3G in it. Apple really shot themselves in the foot with this one. EDGE speeds are fine for browsing small sites, but Apple promotes the integration of Safari into the phone. That kind of browsing will be sloooow. The phone is locked down to Cingular. Cingular sucks and their data plans are way expensive. Touch screen. I am not a fan of touch screens. They gather finger prints, they scratch, and they get all greasy. Try dialing by touch with the iPhone's onscreen keypad. You can't. Lets see: Music player, big screen, processor powerful enough to power OS X, and a bunch of sensors. This thing must guzzle power. I am not hopeful on the battery life of the iPhone. Apple did not mention if the battery is easily replaceable by the end-user. I sure hope it is -- but my guess, looking at five years of iPod history is that the battery is not user-replaceable. DRM. The iPhone continues Apple's push of its DRM technology. DRM sucks. Lastly, pricing. The cost of a 4GB is $499 and the 8GB $599 with you sign up with Cingular for two years.  The Sony Ericsson w810i is $300 and a 4GB Memory Stick Pro Duo is $100 -- and that is an unlocked phone that I can use with any GSM provider.  I cannot imagine what the cost of the iPhone would be if Apple sold these without a mobile service provider subsidy. So, Apple iPhone: Meh. By the way, Apple has officially dropped the "Computer" part from their company name. Now, you will call Steve Job's company: Apple Inc. This officially makes Apple the new Sony. Apple has concretely moved themselves into the consumer electronics market and the name change reflects that. Good luck Apple and lets hope you fair better than Sony in the consumer electronics market.

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