Friday, September 07, 2007

Obligatory Jesus Phone Post

I held out as long as I could, but I wrote this extended comment, and figured no blog would be complete without an iPhone post.

Mobile Opportunity is wondering* why Apple slashed the price of the top-end iPhone by a third and discontinued the cheaper model, only a couple of months after its launch.

There are two explanations that pop up instantly. One is that they are unhappy with only having sold half a million units or so, and not being on target for their stated goal of ten million devices. This is unlikely, because Steve Jobs' personal reality distortion field aside, they must've built in the sort of profit margins that would make the project work with far lesser numbers.

The other is that they are shit-scared of the Nokia N95 finally coming to the US in a local spec. The Finnish device is fundamentally superior in both gadgetry and regular voice/SMS functionality. Certainly Nokia also has the advertising budget to push the phone: remember, this is a company that sells to the end user a million devices a day. And yet even they don't seem to be able to take on the Apple halo. While there is some overlap in the audiences, the N95 is still largely targeted at the sort of hardcore geek who runs Linux on his home machine and worships functionality, while actively despising the glamour focus of Apple products.**

The Mobile Opportunity guy suggests tentatively that Nokia's rash of new music-oriented models might have Apple spooked. But I'm fairly sure it's not the Nokia rollout bothering them: this is not the first time the reindeer herders tried to make dedicated music phones, in fact the XpressMusic sub-brand has been around for a while. It's certainly not the bottom end of Nokia's new range, those are targeted at SonyEricsson's strong Walkman line.

No, the answer is the release of the iPod Touch. That's where they are expecting their demand to shift. The iPhone is not actually very good as a phone: people buy it because the design and the double-touch UI make it viscerally desirable. I'd venture to say that a prevailing majority of iPhone buyers would actually prefer a video iPod with a full-face touchscreen and WiFi, and use whatever well-designed 3G/HSDPA phone they get for free from their carrier.

People who want the iPhone because of the looks will get the iPod Touch, with twice the storage for the same price, and people who want the hottest mobile gadget on the market will get the black N95.

**Full disclosure: my home machine runs on XP.


Tiamsuu said...

Waiting for iPad here. Touch comes close, but still not there yet. I want a slim device with huge screen and no boot time for off the cuff browsing/mailing/calendar.

Don't need a phone - got one. Don't need integrated camera - got plenty of those, and the cybershot in my phone is passable for random shots.

I'm betting on Apple being the first to market with something that meets my requirements.

Disclaimer: Got a XP machine for gaming, everything else has been moved to my MacBook. In process of switching my whole extended family over as well (less support required , phew).

antyx said...

I'll take that bet - for a sixpack of Tõmmu Hiid, let's say? :) I like the instant-on aspect of MacBooks, but Apple got burned bad with the Newton and I can't see them investing in another PDA any time soon. They're a lifestyle accessory company now, not a software development company; they have a pretty clear picture of what the Apple gadget user is supposed to be, and they'll tell you that between the Touch and the iPhone they have you covered. Anything you don't have in those two, you don't actually need, trust us. ;)

I think you might get luckier with a Palm, though after they brutally aborted the Foleo, they're also not likely to go off into tangential markets - for diametrically opposite reasons, though...

Tiamsuu said...

No guarantees that Tõmmu Hiid will still be in stores, though;)

The instant-on on Macs is a good example. They take the usual time to boot up, but layered standby is quite a bit ahead, design-wise, of whatever Win camp has to offer/can offer.

I used Palm's original Pilot, had a V later as well. Good design for it's time, but I wouldn't put my trust in them nowadays after they moved from the innovation towards the 'common' PDA design paradigms.
Foleo smartphone companion might have been a contender - right step in theory - but the application was lacking.

I'm not a believer in the ultimate convergence, too much of functionality is simply incompatible (usability-wise) for the result to be pleasant enough.


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