Perhaps I spoke too soon about the iPhone...

by Jim Farley

The glare of the stage lights seems to be fading a bit and some not-so-glossy features of the iPhone are surfacing:

- The Apple reps at MacWorld are telling people that you won't be able to install your own software on the iPhone.

- They're also reporting that the battery is not removable.

- There's no expansion slot (mini/microSD, whatever).

- It's rumored that you won't be able to do over-the-air iTunes Store purchases.

Add this to the lack of 3G and the $500/600 price tag, and I'm left scratching my head.

Is this a smartphone or not? I'd have to say "not", given the first point.

Are they targeting consumers or power/business users? Expensive, but not customizable with software or expansion cards - sounds like "neither".

All this information is semi-official at best, and hopefully these factors will line up into a clearer market strategy before June. But if these become fact (especially that first one), I'll still be scratching my head.

21 Comments

Jens Lund
2007-01-09 23:45:37
Replacable SIM card?


If battery is non removable and there is no expansionslot what about SIM card? Is it possible to change SIM card?


If not. 3 huge mistakes.

pauldwaite
2007-01-10 01:09:53
Of course you won't be able to install your on software. If you could, iPhone could get VOP functionality, and Cingular would lose half of their revenues from it.


The iPod battery isn't removable either, and that seems to have worked just fine. Of course, with just 5 hours of talk time, it would have been nice to be able to carry a spare battery around.


No expansion slot? It's already got 4 or 8 GB of flash memory. And if you can't install your own software on it, why do you want an expansion card? Again, the iPod doesn't have one.


"It's rumored that you won't be able to do over-the-air iTunes Store purchases." Rumoured? I think the fact that Steve didn't mention it is pretty good evidence that you won't be able to do it. And if Cingular's data rates are anything like as extortionate as UK mobile phone companies, I don't think anyone would want to.


I believe they're targeting consumers and business users who already use OS X.

Eddie
2007-01-10 02:22:26
If Apple abandons their Developer Community and does not provide an SDK and API to the iPhone, then Steve Jobs has failed and he has deviated from how he and Woz started Apple in the 1970s. I seriously doubt that Cingular or any other wireless telecom for that matter want developers to write apps for phones. Also, don't forget that these wireless teleco operators want you to go to the web sites that they dictate (the so-called Walled Gardens). So if you want to buy and use an iPhone, then that means you are signing up live under the auspices of a dictator (Cingular - for at lest a two year contract) and a dictator-by-proxy (Jobs). Sorry to sound cynical. But on the other hand, there is Trolltech's Greenphone (the first fully programmable open sourc mobile phone on the planet)!
Simon Hibbs
2007-01-10 03:01:51
Forget the fact that this runs OS X, or that web browsing and email come from the desktop world. That's a distraction. This is a mobile phone, and has been built with a laser-sharp focus on communications. It's email and web functions are adjuncts to it's voice communications capabilities. As a communicator, pure and simple, the ability to add local applications is moot. It's not a hand computer, it's a phone.


Having said all that, of course it can access a huge variety of applications. It's web browser gives it access to almost every web application on the planet including all the Google tools such as gmail and spreadsheets, flickr, maybe even youtube. It also has dashboard widgets, which will provide some local application capability.


You know, that's not a bad set of capabilities.

scott
2007-01-10 03:31:45
oh, please! the thing has been out for one day. most of the reps on the floor probably saw it the same time you did. if it runs OS X, its really a new NeXTSTEP OS X platform. OS X 10.5 will probably usher in an update to Xcode that will allow you to develop and deploy for the phone.


and i'm sorry, but i just don't get what is so special with the over-the-air music purchasing? i mean, given the current sad state of popular music, there is nothing that i can't wait to purchase when i get home (and also nothing i'd want to waste precious cell data minutes on)!

Ian
2007-01-10 06:08:15
Simon Hibbs wrote: This is a mobile phone, and has been built with a laser-sharp focus on communications.


It's actually the communications part which puts me off. The lack of 3G means that it's just not as good at communications as phones which are currently on the market. Considering that it will be around a year before it arrives here in the UK, and that there is a two year contract on it, it will be a phone that I am still using at the start of 2010. Without 3G, I just don't see how I can take that as a serious option for a phone.

Adam Rice
2007-01-10 06:21:48
As a communicator, pure and simple


You mean a communicator with a camera, iTunes, iPhoto, web browser, and what-all else? There's nothing pure and simple about it. Releasing a $500 phone with that kind of horsepower and closing it off is a slap in the face.


I look forward to seeing hacks to open it up within 48 hours of its commercial release, though.

GadgetDon
2007-01-10 06:50:19
I suspect part of the reason goes back to a design plan of the Newton. It cannot crash. Ever. Zero crashes. Of course, the Newton never achieved that goal, it was not difficult to create third party software that crashed the system (on purpose or by accident).


You can't boot the phone from the system disk, reformat and reinstall everything. They definitely don't want anyone's $600 phone getting bricked.


Given all the things going on in there, it may be a somewhat precarious balancing act making it all work and may not be able to safely support third party software. Over time, that may change, but for now, I'm not surprised they aren't opening it up to everyone and say "Hey, everybody, put all your code on it."

Samir
2007-01-10 07:10:59
When will you Communists stop bashing Apple? No matter what Apple does, you're not happy. Since I don't see you creating any new $2 billion companies and new markets lately despite your "Harvard" degree, I don't really think you're in any position to criticize Apple.


You communists don't seem to understand that Apple makes great products people want, and rarely do they miss. You failed in your attempts to destroy Apple by attacking the iPods in the media and you will fail in your attempts to do so by attacking the iPhone. Your attempted control of the media isn't working too well. Not everyone is stupid - many of us can see right through you and see your real motivations. Please go back to "Harvard" with your fellow travelers and leave Apple alone.

Larry Mason
2007-01-10 07:29:33
The key to the success of the iPhone is going to be the service plan and provider. US cell companies are stuck in the model of the "intellegent network" that was basically the demise of MaBell. Remember when ISPs wanted to charge per minute of use? They view the handset as a cash deposit box that any use begets them more money. If you want voice dialing, even though it's implemented entirely in the handset, they expect to disable the function until you pay for it. Want a different ringtone, they'll be glad to rent one to you. How many of the functions and features of the iPhone will be for use on a rental basis, rather than uaseable as the true stand alone computing device that the iPhone could be. We will not have really good phone hand sets in the US until it is painless to switch network providers instantly. That requires the networks to embrace the concept that their domain ends at the antenna and not at your wallet. I think this situation with Cingular is analogous to the iPod being dependent on a download service run by Universal Studios, rather than iTMS. Should have stuck with the MacTablet.
TyAnon
2007-01-10 07:34:54
"The Apple reps at MacWorld are telling people that you won't be able to install your own software on the iPhone." - First of all, this doesn't make sense. Why release "widgets" functionality and not allow 3rd party developers to develop them A LA Dashboard widgets? Secondly, Apple has the Safari mobile web browser that they can utilize for 3rd party applications. I think their strategy is to move away from desktop apps to web apps. My opinion is that they should open up an AJAX-like API that allows web developers access to iPhone functions (like making phone calls, saving hCards to the built-in addressbook, etc). Think of possible over the air sync of calendars to Google Calendar or some other web service like .Mac. The possibilities are endless (if they allow it).
Thomas Fitzgerald
2007-01-10 07:50:11
I think many people have mistaken the idea that because the phone runs OSX that you can install any desktop app on it. That does not mean that there won't be more applications or an SDK available in the future.
Jim Farley
2007-01-10 08:09:20
I feel like I've graduated in the blogosphere - I've been called a communist! :)


But seriously...


I hear what some of you are saying about user-installable software being A Thing To Be Feared by both the carrier and the device manufacturer. But the cat is out of the bag on that one - virtually every mobile phone platform (Palm OS, Blackberry, Windows Mobile, Symbian, Linux, ...) supports installable software, and virtually every carrier and device manufacturer offers this "service". Cingular already offers Palm OS and Windows Mobile phones by multiple manufacturers, so they are already in the soup on this one. Absolutely, problems ensue, and phones get bricked, but users (even non-power users) have come to expect this capability.


Given the obvious link that this device could have with Apple's developer community and platform, I agree with the sentiment that they will eventually open up the platform for custom development using XCode.

Jamie McC
2007-01-10 08:23:10
The 3G argument that people raise about the UK is a bit of a straw man- 3G isn't actually available over a wide area of the country, including a lot of the more rural and suburban areas that the target markets live in (as opposed to working in or commuting through).


I imagine that a completely sandboxed Cocoa environment (to protect from complete crashes) may be available post launch.


I expect european launch to be on one of the pan-european companies, and really that means T-mobile or Orange/France Telecom.


I imagine that the SIM card will be replaceable- it will be behind the black plastic lower quarter bit on the back of the iPhone. You never know, that might be where the battery is as well...


How long until those 32GB flash chips are ready??

Jamie McC
2007-01-10 08:30:13
Sorry, two things I missed-
"available" should be "available reliably"!


Network provider- more likely to be t-mobile, because they have a hotspot business that can take advantage of the WiFi connection; that increases ARPU significantly for t-mobile, while being more of a disincentive for the other operators without their own hotspot businesses.

Jonathan
2007-01-10 09:12:58
Third party vendors will have a heyday w/ the iPhones lacks. It has a thirty pin "ipod" connector. Many things have already been built that may work w/ it and if the iPod after-market is any indication of the potential of the IPhone after-market ( did any one else watching the keynote notice the difference in the SIZE of the music player market compared to the cell phone market?) then it's possible that apple has just opened up a gold mine of potential revenues. Extended use batteries/Storage enhancement devices/Video Glasses/Sport interfaces. Maybe some of this stuff could be built into the variety of iPhone protectors which may be created. Some third party stuff may even become available before the iPhone itself!
William D. Neumann
2007-01-10 09:29:53
You can count me as one that is less excited about this phone today than I was yesterday, but some good solid info from Apple could change all of that quite easily. Add third party app support, allow me to run some sort of terminal/ssh and remote desktop type software, and I'll likely be all over this thing again. But I'll just have to wait until June and see.


However, having said that, I'd be pretty shocked if they don't have some sort of SDK for the phone by WWDC (also coming in June 2007).

Ian
2007-01-10 09:38:30
Jamie McC writes: The 3G argument that people raise about the UK is a bit of a straw man- 3G isn't actually available over a wide area of the country, including a lot of the more rural and suburban areas that the target markets live in (as opposed to working in or commuting through).


Truth be told, I wasn't looking to make a general argument, but a purely personal one - I don't want to buy a non-3G phone. I live in a non-rural, non-surburban area and have pretty good 3G service. I don't know how many people this would affect, but it's what affects me.


I'd also reiterate my point that we're looking at being locked into the device until 2010, so it's not about coverage now but about what's going to happen over the next three years.


Don't get me wrong, I think that there's loads of exciting things in the iPhone (and it would seem to contain pointers to future products), it's just that I'm not sure that phone features quite cut it. My first impression is that I'd actually be much more up for it as a WiFi PDA rather than a phone.

a c
2007-06-07 14:51:44
Well for all those that aren't bound to the apple name, and have forged ahead inthe Windows Mobiel world of add-on apps etc... But still love the touch screen thingy of the iphone, then the HTC Touch might provide a live love.. Although I do not know if it is 3g...


http://www.htctouch.com/

Jonathan
2007-07-19 07:56:37
Hi Jim,
I need some help. Would really appreciate it if you can reply to my mail. Bought a HTC Touch recently but as I'm using a mac, I can only install the Getting Started cd in my mac Parallels Windows XP. However, when i try to intall the cd, it has an error message that says that the cd needs Adobe Flash player to view and I've already installed the Flash player but yet, it still can't detect my flash player. Can you help please? Is there a compatible issue with the mac Parallels Windows XP? If so, what can i do about it? jonathanyeo77@yahoo.com.sg
Jim Farley
2007-07-20 19:22:38
Sorry, Jonathan, I don't have a clue what the problem might be. You should take your question to the Parallels support forums (forums.parallels.com).