January 13 2007

iPhone Realities Setting In

So, while I still think the iPhone will rock, it’s not quite as exciting as it was a mere few days ago. Roy over at q-taro has an excellent entry on how even with all these advances, the iPhone will STILL lag behind most Japanese phones. And, like Roy, I would love to see them release a version of this without the phone, just make it a kick-ass Apple PDA with iPod and PDA functions. Yes, that would make it 100% reliant on WiFi for internet access, but it would still be pretty kicking.

I think a lot of my excitement over the iPhone is more about what it represents, more than what it is. This is a huge step forward for American cell phones, but it still doesn’t catch us up with the foreign ones. It’s amazing how far behind we are on some technologies such as cell phones and internet speeds. I think this also gives us an interesting idea what the next iPods will be like. (I’m figuring there will be a new iPod launch in June or July…watch for it)

So while I’m still excited, it is tempered some with a couple days to think about it. It’s also still a long time until June, and things may change in the phone’s specs by then.

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  • I have to wonder how many of the holdbacks are due to engineering and design, and how many are due to FCC restrictions or other non-technological considerations. I am struck by the iPhone’s lack of use of these features despite having the technology and almost the exact same lack on the Zune. WiFi, but no networking; no downloading of songs directly from the portable; no wireless syncing with the computer; and so on.

    Which begs the question: are the holdbacks technical, or are they jurisdictional? Which suggests that maybe, just maybe, the Japanese venue has fewer restrictions, and therefore the iPhone in Japan may have different capabilities despite having the same specs.

    While this won’t help you get what you want in Missouri, it may help explain whyoy u’re not getting what you want. I wonder if similar cell phone models between the U.S. and Japan have such differences in what features are locked or not.

    It just seems unthinkable to me that Apple could build in all these technical capabilities and yet simply choose not to activate them. Microsoft did the same with the Zune, but with them, it was more likely a poor management choice. I can’t see the same being possible with Apple, at least not to this degree.

  • I think one possibility is that Apple is trying to make sure that the early adopters will be buying another phone with more features in the near future. It may seem cynical but Apple has “taken advantage of (the users’) love” in the past and wouldn’t be beyond doing so again.

    If it was about regulations, they could have waited a bit longer and released a more functional phone. Why bother when all the Mac zealots will rush out and buy one then buy the next generation 8 months later?

  • One possible reason: with all the leaks about the phone, Apple’s stock would likely have plummeted without the announcement.

    You’re also assuming that these features would be allowed by the FCC after further review. My point is that maybe it’s more complicated than that.

    Not to mention that the features we’re talking about are already built-in–the WiFi is there, the BlueTooth is there, even 3G features could be a software/firmeware upgrade away (like the WiFi-n on my new iMac). It’s not a matter of the features being missing on the initial models as much as they are “turned off.” They can be turned on after purchase–not to mention that in 6 months, a lot more could be developed and activated in the phones.

    While it is a possibility, there is no evidence that Apple is intentionally hobbling the iPhone so as to shaft early adopters and sell more 2G and later models.

  • I’m not sure which way to lean on this. Shari has a valid point in that Apple DOES have a track record of shafting early adopters (see:iPod), but Luis is right, it may just be a firmware upgrade. It’s hard to call at this point!