It’s on it’s way!

For those who doubt the impact of the Apple iPhone, and there are many out there, how is it that a computer maker with a dubious past history of hand held devices can go from nothing to the second largest player in the predominately business arena of the smart phone.

Second only to the Blackberry in popularity, the iPhone is about to hit the world’s stage with a bang over the next few months. Anyone who has ever bought or followed Apple products, it’s always safe to wait until version 2 of the latest toy comes out. The iPod first generation was ground breaking but limited, subsequent versions have seen the iPod become the ubiquitous entertainment toy of the last decade.

Version 1 of the iPhone was a dog. It was only available in the US, on one carrier, it wasn’t 3G, didn’t have GPS, had a very small hard drive, was expensive etc etc. It still rose to dominance among phone and entertainment fans alike.

The move to sell the iPhone globally has been a huge thing, and considering the rest of the world is pretty much ahead of the US in terms of cellular technology (generalisation), the new generation iPhone to be announced* at the Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) June 9th 2008, will be huge. Although not supported by any carrier in NZ and technically illegal, there are already 3500 of these babies in NZ, all hacked to work on the Vodafone network.

Vodafone NZ has been given the right to host the product on it’s network, which is a huge relief to me, as this network is on the whole much better than that currently run by Telecom.

What do we know about the new iPhone? Well watching the rumour sites over the last few weeks has been interesting. Many people are interested in the aesthetics of the thing (black case, smaller, bigger etc) but for me the goodies are on the inside.

The new iPhone will have 3G capabilities, thus making it faster and more useful generally. It will contain GPS, which alone with 3G interactivity will allow developers to come up with some fun ubiquitous toys. It will have a larger storage capacity. Considering most movies scaled down come in at a starting 1GB, any more than 1 or two movies on the old phone started eating into precious photo and music storage space. Guessing the range of hard drive size is going to be one of the biggest challenges. Form what I’ve been reading anything from a 16Gb base model right up to 32+GB models, the later would of course be fun.

It has safari running on it, making it one hell of a cool tool. The ability to call up google maps anywhere and everywhere will be amazing, and of course getting the latest Premier League results first thing while camping is worth the $500+ dollars alone.

It should be bigger (inside) faster and about the same price as the old. This is an old Apple trick, new for old price (if not slightly cheaper). My third version of a MacBook Pro is now more than 5x faster than my first one at about $1500 cheaper.

The coolest thing about the new iphone with all of it’s amazing features is of course the Developers Kit, which has been made available free from the Apple Site. Developers from the largest games makers through to small business firms have been downloading this Developers Kit at an amazing rate, which if you were to believe that infamous rant of Steve Baumer a few years back, all sweatty and panting – “developers, developers, developers, developers, developers, developers” These people will give the iPhone the usability and ubiquity beyond even what Apple had imagined.

Other issues that people have expressed concern about are ‘red hearings’. The keyboard and design are genius. This does not need a physical keyboard, it’s about the UI (user interface) and user experience. It took me all of 1 minute playing with the iPhone in the crowded flagship NY 5th Avenue store to get used to the keyboard. It’s the genius of the design and goes to the heart of the ethos of Jobs and Jonathan Ives (who should be Lord Ives by now for the impact he has bought upon the computer industry).

The iPhone is all about experience, and with all of the features jammed into this baby with the expandability of the software developers kit and the soon to be global positioning of this baby, this toy/tool is going to be revolutionary. If not for what it is and does, or what it will do in version 2.0, it’s already been huge on the industry whom have been scrambling to play catch-up by this slam dunk product. If nothing else the industry response to the iPhone is going to be one of it’s greatest legacies.

One small example. The facebook generation (not me) will lap this baby up. Imagine being able to take a pic of a thing, place or event, edit that pic and send it straight to your site within seconds, as demonstrated by a friend in Vancouver who wrote a small script to do this. The here and now of the facebook generation will take this toy to new and wonderful places, not to mention the amazing things being done in the business and industry worlds with it at the moment.

Another futuristic example is where we could be going with anticipatory ubiquitous computing/information. Imagine being on the road driving to say Wanaka and your telco knows that you like Super 14 rugby, you receive a txt from that telco telling you which pub you in the direction you are going has the game and further what the food, possibly the special of the day etc. What will be able to be done with anticipatory information in the future is almost fantastical and limited to only our imaginations, and toys like the iPhone will be one of the driving tools for this.

I can’t wait for this new 3G iPhone, I’m not sure if I will be lining up to get one a la Apple Hype releases previously seen overseas, but one will be in my pocket very very soon.

This is going to shake up the telecommunications industry and evidence all ready suggests it’s on it’s way to doing so at the moment.

Bring on the 3G – bigger hard drive – GPS iPhone to NZ, it’s going to be fun.


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Filed under Culture, Design, Media

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