Last week Apple introduced the iPhone at MacWorld. As you probably know from the extensive coverage that there has been, it brings together a new widescreen video iPod, mobile phone and a range of Internet features.
I think Apple might be onto something big with the iPhone. The problem with nearly all phones that I have come across is that they just aren’t enjoyable to use. My one person test of this is the fact that I’m still soldiering on with my slightly broken Sony Ericsson T610 instead of upgrading. I’m a gadget loving person, so why aren’t I upgrading to the latest thing? Mainly because none of them give me enough more than my current phone does, let alone any already existing gadget I have. Think about it. Does any phone come close to an iPod for playing music? No. Does any phone come close to my Canon Powershot G3 for photo taking? No. Does any phone come close to my MacBook for surfing the Internet or reading my e-mail? No. The problem is that while a lot of phones can do all of those things none of does them well. In fact, most of the time, the features seem barely implemented.
Now, I’m not an Apple zealot. I can see that the iPhone is not perfect because the battery life is not great and considering it’s touted as being the widescreen video iPod the battery life for watching videos is only 5 hours. Not great. One of the things Apple does better than virtually any other company is design and from the look of it the iPhone has got loads of bloody brilliant design in it. Everything (and importantly that includes the job of being a phone) looks like it not only works but works brilliantly, something that knocks all other phones into a cocked hat. Apple says it is aiming for 1% of the market but I reckon it’l get way more than that.
Now, there is an “interesting” piece on bloomberg about how Apple won’t make a difference in the mobile phone market. This guy clearly has little idea about how technology works, although his opening paragraph almost grasps they way things do work.
To its many fans, Apple is more of a religious cult than a company. An iToaster that downloads music while toasting bread would probably get the same kind of worldwide attention.
There is a reason why the followers of Apple have such a “religious” following. As Alan Cooper pointed out in his book “The Inmates Are Running The Asylum” good design generates loyalty and Apple have such phenomenal design that people who use their products love them. I’m not sure an iToaster would get the same worldwide attention, but you can bet on it being well designed and that it would give you consistent toast. Now, Mr Matthew Lynn from Bloomberg doesn’t think Nokia or Motorola should worry and that Apple will fail. Motorola historically have terrible user interfaces and Nokia’s N80 (which my girlfriend has) is one of the most buggy phones I’ve used. Nokia themselves have already missed the point by saying they’re “surprised” that the phone doesn’t have 3G. This isn’t about features and it isn’t about the market already existing. Apple will get their 1% they’re aiming for and almost certainly more. People want the iPhone because they love their iPods and how well they work and they want an phone that works at least nearly as well as their iPod. If they get that then Apple could well have customers for life. That is something that Nokia and Motorola don’t have and they should be running scared to their R&D labs fast.