iPhone is cool, but not for the masses!

by Hari K. Gottipati

Much rumored Apple iPhone was finally unveiled by Steve Jobs at MacWorld yesterday. It impressed lot of people and Wall street too. But slowly the buzz is fading out and people(including me) are talking about the disadvantages of it. Since their announcement, I have been talking to my friend Kiran Mudiam on the pros and cons of the iPhone. Here are the excerpts from our conversation:

First lets talk about advantages:
* Seamless integration of a PDA,Phone and Internet device.
* Gives the user seamless integration for all the content they have already acquired from the iTunes store.
* They own all the pieces of the puzzle now. Server, PC/Mac, handheld device and DRM
* 720p HD Quality TV in your palm.
* Perhaps will make a comeback of the so much hated "touch screen phone" back to the US Market.
* Perhaps provide good and healthy competition to big 4 phone manufacturers.

Here are disadvantages that I can see in iPhone:

Its too expensive
I don't think, $599 with 2 year contract is a cheaper price. I guess the carrier is baring at least $200 in the cost of the iPhone, so if you want to get the phone without the carrier(initially it may not be possible) you will end up paying around $800, which is as expensive as laptop. Ofcourse this is going to be initial price and it will come down once it reaches the mass(if it can). I don't think its the price for mass. Though it provides iPod+Phone+Internet communicator, the mass is not going to use all the features that iPhone has, hence mass cannot afford $599 for the features that they actually use.

For enterprise people, but missing enterprise functionality
Looking at the price and the Internet communicator features, they are targeting only the enterprise people. But it doesn't provide connectivity to enterprise data. Majority of the enterprises uses either Microsoft Exchange or Lotus notes and iPhone cannot be used with these. It provides Yahoo IMAP push, its great. But I don't think enterprise people are going to store their data on Yahoo servers. So for them Yahoo IMAP push is useless.

Full flexed Web browser support, not really
Based on the presentation, it doesn't seem to be the regular browser. If it is like a regular desktop browser, then it should support all the features like audio, video etc. May be it is. But Jobs just demonstrated only text/image based Newyork Times site. If it is a regular browser, then Goggle maps should work in it. But why he demonstrated separate Google maps application? Some may argue that its a separate app optimized for iPhone, so that people can call the phone numbers from Google local results directly. May be, they are right! Lets assume that it supports all feature like desktop browsers, do you think we are going to really use Web2.0 apps on iPhone through Cingular EDGE network(since its not 3G complaint), which provides the data speed ranging from 80 kbps to 110 kbps? Nope!. So the only option in this case is, using it via WiFi.

Exclusive for Cingular, what about the others?
They announced the exclusive partnership with Cingular until 2008. That means no body else can carry iPhone until 2008 in US. How many of Cingular 58 million users will buy this phone and what about the users like me who like the iPhone but can't switch from the carrier because of the contracts and other things?

Other disadvantages
Already people(including O'Reilly mac devcenter bloggers) talking about these, some of them are:
* No 3G, it works on Cingular EDGE platform, not on Cingular 3G network HSDPA.
* No OTA.
* Cannot isntall third party software.
* No expandable memory. I think 8GB is enough memory, but for iPod video lovers, its a disadvantage.
* No removable battery. If the battery is broken, you send the phone to Apple instead of they sending you the battery. So no problem. Its definitely a disadvantage for the people who use a phone lot and rely on the extra battery. But how many people are using extra batteries for their mobile phones? Its very small amount. So I don't think its a big deal.

What do you think? I know most of you disagree with me. If you are, please prove me that I am wrong. I am more happy to hear that I am wrong, cause I love this phone.

17 Comments

ortelius
2007-01-10 23:50:55
Don't forget there is also no GPS. Stevie Wonder alluded to some sort of way of deriving location ... but without a proper GPS it will be horribly inaccurate unless you are in an urban area where your position could be determined with the WiFi or GSM networks.


I tend to think that the Nokia N95 will be a far better option for those of us who want the end-all be-all device. Remember that this device has 3G (HSPDA), GPS, a real camera (5mp) as well as a VGA camera on the front for video calls, pluggable memory (microSD), and a removable battery ... In addition many (if not all) of the disadvantages listed here are not applicable ... and since it is based on an essentially open platform (Symbian) ... enterprise software is already available. Sure its bigger, doesn't have the same buzz factor and doesn't integrate perfectly with iTunes et al, but at $700 unlocked (i.e. no long term contract) .. I'll take it.

John
2007-01-11 02:23:57
If the iPhone had these disadvantages, but the price tag was considerably lower...
Then it would be a great option.


Even if it costed as much as 300€ it would still look like a viable option, but not with a price tag that high.


One of the biggest no-nos I've seen with this phone is the simple fact it cannot install third party software, the others I could even chew threw with a smaller price tag.


When in 2008 this phone opens up to other companies, if the price tag has lowered to something around 200€ it would look like a phone you'd get.


Right now it's just a big screen with a flashy appearance.
It looks too good to be true, but that price tag is just ridiculous for a phone I can't even install third party software.

Jay
2007-01-11 04:58:49
I would go out and buy it for 800 today if it had Blackberry software running on it. But since it doesn't run Blackberry software I would still carry two devices. So I'll just wait for Blackberry to come out with a similar featured phone in a year or two.


And I really hate Apple because the create a closed system. No API for folks that write phone software. No other support other than from Apple. Yea, it is cool. No I won't buy one. If they spoke with Blackberry, got licensed to run their software. They would corner the market. They locked out the very people that could afford to buy a $500 - $800 phone. Oops.

Eric
2007-01-11 09:44:05
Re the no enterprise functionality, I think Apple is banking on the enterprise seeing the closed and potentially damaging nature of systems such as Exchange. They are expensive and force lock in at a very intrusive level, meaning that an organization cannot migrate away, they must cut almost all ties in fail swoop. With Apple's CalDav server, free clients (ics compatible and imap/pop), ldap for contacts and pervasive flexibility at all levels (storage, backup, network, operating system, end user systems, etc) it makes some sense.


I am not saying it will catch on, but Exchange becomes less important when you consider a world of RESTful web services, which I would argue is rapidly approaching.


Thomas
2007-01-11 12:22:13
Don't forget bluetooth !
Does it has bluetooth support for handsfree ??
Hari K Gottipati
2007-01-11 12:33:09
@Thomas,
Yes it has Bluetooth support.
Dustin
2007-01-11 13:27:38
Your complaints are so petty it sounds like you are just looking for reasons to hate this phone. Look at your point on browser support. We have no idea what the features of the browser are. It might support video and it might not. We don't know, but he did say it runs Safari, and Safari does video and audio. In any case the fact is, the browser is a billion times better than anything we've seen on any phone. And the reason why there is a separate app for Google Maps is because they wanted to take advantage of the mutitouch capabilities built into the screen (http://www.ted.com/tedtalks/tedtalksplayer.cfm?key=j_han).


Too expensive - only targeting enterprise people? It's only $100 more than a video iPod, and it's a phone and web browser. If people are willing to buy a video iPod they are going to be willing to upgrade to a rad phone for only $100 more. I agree that the storage space is limited, but that will increase over time.


Cannot install 3rd party software? Where did you hear this? That sounds so absurd to me that I won't believe it until I read it on an apple website. Of course you could install 3rd party software. Apple wants their phone to be desireable, and installing 3rd party software is desireable. I also recall seeing support for Microsoft Exchange in the keynote. If a full-fledged Outlook client is demanded then it's up to a third party to provide the support. Enterprises will flock to this phone because of the capabilities it provides.


-D

Edi
2007-01-11 21:47:21
Well after all we still have half a year to go until the device is actually released. So I think Apple is still up to some changes and improvements. Though I agree that EDGE is by no means enough for a "Internet Communicator".
Hari K Gottipati
2007-01-12 09:05:24
@Dustin
"Cannot install 3rd party software? Where did you hear this? That sounds so absurd to me that I won't believe it until I read it on an apple website."


If you check this NYTimes article at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/11/technology/11cnd-apple.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1168621202-Tjw/81/E1htOeOa/TmdmxA, you will find that. He clearly mentioned that by saying "We define everything that is on the phone".

em
2007-01-18 11:07:52
I'm an ipod video addict and 8 GB is nowhere near enough for me. I have over 600 songs and 8 videos so far and I plan on building. I've used over half my memory on my 30 GB already... I love this phone... the memory is my only issue and it's a huge one. I would definitely buy it if it only had more. That alone is reason enough to keep my cellphone (from Cingular, even that's not a problem since I'm already with them) and my 30 GB ipod... This phone will be great- after the first edition. I can't believe apple didn't see that coming. 3 Videos and that doesn't even include the music? Come on now. The thousands and thousands who own video ipods are not going to be anywhere near impressed with this defect of the phone. That is the only thing keeping me back from this and I'm sure I'm not alone.
cacheop
2007-01-24 18:15:08
Who cares about the masses? Besides who are the mainstream users that have ever installed a 3rd party app or used a "web 2.0 app"?


I don't care about the masses - the more exclusive the better it is for gadget freaks and early adopters. Once the masses come it's no longer cool.


Have you ever seen the Mac Vs PC ads - PCs are for the masses.


2007-04-25 08:15:47
iphoneis best forever
u dont think so u need to lraren more about iphone
i give u one web sit, go on this websit http://events.apple.com.edgesuite.net/j47d52oo/event/
Hemin
2007-05-01 08:21:21
twat


hemin_india@yahoo.co.uk

Mike
2007-06-04 05:39:46
Lets see you drive and use this puppy... Talk about sick wrecks!


Chandra Minarto
2007-06-11 06:57:12
Dear Sir ,


What about 02 ZINC compared to IPhone ?
O2 ZINC can do all IPHONE can do.


Chandra
minarto@hotmail.com


2007-10-24 12:09:19
Can you send text messages on the iphone
john
2007-10-24 17:43:22
i think it rocks