Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Yikes, it is a smartphone!

As you certainly know, Apple launched the iPhone today. Great show by Steve Jobs, as usual. And surprising announcement, at least for me. Everybody is excited about the device (the stock market for sure, with AAPL up 7% and RIM down 7%...), I am not that much. Obviously, I need to get my hands on it and play with it, but one thing is clear: it is a smartphone!!!

It is funny how nobody noticed it with surprise. I was not expecting a smartphone... Apple is a great consumer company... Smartphones represent a minuscule size of the mobile market. The smartphone market is not even considered "consumer". It is an enterprise market, prosumer at best. Apple target is 1% of the entire device market in 2008. That's nothing. That will be a rounding error in Nokia or Motorola or even Samsung market share... The iPhone is not a RAZR, not by a mile.

Moreover, the iPhone does not even look like an enterprise device. It just looks like a smartphone for geeks (and I love geeks, do not get me wrong, but we are not the majority out there...).

On top of it, it is pricey... At $499, you need to be a wealthy geek... Did anyone notice that the BlackBerry Pearl is much smaller, looks pretty cool and cost you $199?? When I saw it for the first time I thought "wow, that might get into the hands of consumers". I have a hard time thinking the same for the iPhone...

When it comes to the UI, I am happy to hear from Steve that our fingers are designed for interacting... But touching something requires a tactile feedback. If I touch a screen, there is no feedback. When I touch buttons, I get it. Did anybody notice a difference between the buttons in a BlackBerry, Treo, Q or E61? I do. They feel different when I touch them or push them. You are going to miss it with the iPhone... Look at the iPod: it is all about tactile feedback. The wheel is just perfect. It feels perfect. A screen won't. Never. It is cold and flat.

How innovative is it? Well, have you looked at the OpenMoko device? Gulp, it is a smartphone and it does not have a keyboard as well. It is based on the same idea. Steve said they patented everything about the iPhone. Good for them... If you are a geek developer and you have to choose between a fully proprietary solution and a fully open source device, what would you choose? They are both based on a Unix derivative... I would go with OpenMoko, where you can freely build any kind of application without paying a toll to Apple.

Lastly, and this is for geeks, it does not support 3G. No UMTS, only EDGE. That's slooooow for a geek. I am happy about the wi-fi support, but this is a device that is supposed to change the way I interact with the world when I am mobile (and I do not have wi-fi everywhere today). It is going to be sloooooooooow!!

Ok, I believe I have been a bit too harsh on this one. I really want to play with it and say I was wrong. But I won't be able to do it for the next six months... That's an eternity in mobile. Where is the Apple that announced a device and it was available in store the same day???

In a nutshell:
  1. It is just a smartphone
  2. It is a smartphone for geeks only
  3. It is pricey even for a geek
  4. Input is going to be clumsy
  5. It is not that innovative
  6. It is slow
  7. It is going to take six months before we see it
I might be wrong on everything, and I hope to be. I am an Apple fan. I bought dozens of iPod Shuffle before Christmas, after all... If I look at it with a positive angle, the iPhone is very similar to the first iPod. That one was for geeks only, as well. Heavy and big. Then they made the mini and the nano and the last shuffle. Fantastic devices for the masses. Everybody got one.

I guess I will have to wait for the iPhone nano...