Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Surprise: it is a mass market phone :-)

Well, I can't say I got it right. The Apple conference was really boring. Nothing new. Nothing special. It was still much better than Italy's game, so I casually followed Jobs presentation instead ;-)

I believe the only big news is the price of the 3G iPhone: I predicted lower than $200 for the iPhone mini and it is $199... This price makes it a mass market device. It will cost less than iPods. Yes, it is subsidized and you have to pay the operator for that, but that is a cost you already are paying (with your current phone). So if you sum iPod and your phone, upgrading to iPhone is a cost saving... That's quite interesting.

What is curious is that Apple gave up the model that seemed to change the game in mobile: they are not getting a share of revenues from the operator anymore. They are like any other device manufacturer. It is a step back (a big one) and I believe it was a blow in Jobs' face by European operators (due to the lack of sales in the Old Continent). I was reading the Financial Times on the plane and the contrast with the US is spectacular: in the US everyone calls the iPhone a success, in Europe a failure...

Now, Apple probably figured out that instead of selling 10M iPhones and make money with calls and data, they could sell 30M and make the same money (margins on HW are 30% max, so they need to triple their revenues to make it even with the loss of rev share).

And AT&T figured that they could subsidize $200 of an iPhone, and raise the data plan from $20/m to $30/m, therefore making $240 more in 24 months...

That's it, you chop the price and you make the niche bigger, without introducing anything new... Everyone is happy.

Oohh, they did introduce something interesting, though. It is called MobileMe, the evolution of the .Mac (not a success, by all means). For just $99/year, you get syncing on it. Or you can use the Funambol client and myFUNAMBOL and get it for free, plus it works on more phones, more backends and you have the code to play around with it... In any case, this is another sign that syncing is hot and everyone wants a piece of the puzzle (good for us).

BTW, did you notice the stark contrast from the enterprise solution (ActiveSync) and the consumer one (MobileMe)? Phil Schiller on stage called the Microsoft protocol ActiveStink... Way to push it in the enterprise... I believe RIM can sleep well for a little more, but they have to be careful...

Question before going to bed: why is Apple not using an open protocol such as SyncML? Why do they have to do everything closed? It is just too sad. Apple could be 10 times bigger but they choose not to. Everyone has its limits.