Thursday, 4 September 2008

iPhone reflections

So Apple's iPhone is shipping in shed loads ... people bought the original one (with all its carrier and contract limitations in limited geographies) in their millions, and they are buying the newer 3G version in even more millions in even more countries.  The carrier options are diversifying (as many of us predicted) and now the App Store is open for business, non techie people are customising their mobile phone's capabilities like never before.  

The multi-touch experience on the iPhone is unlike any other touch screen device.  Some aspects of this user interface is being transplanted by Apple into its range of laptop computers and I believe the computer maker will develop this further as a key differentiator in the future.  Apple used the tremendous volume of iPods sold to get its component costs (and particularly flash memory) down so that it could introduce lower end models and incorporate cheap flash memory in other devices while maintaining margins against the bill of materials costs.  I believe it will play the same trick with iPhone components, including the touch screen.   When it has sold sufficient (against a business plan) volumes of iPhones, it is likely to offer a lower end model (perhaps with just voice and music) such as it did with the iPod Mini and Nano models of music player.  As ever I expect its marketing position and timing to be extremely carefully thought out so that sales do not cannibalise its higher end model.

The iPhone has made the rest of the industry sit up and follow.  Innovations are coming thick and fast.  Other manufacturers are now talking about equivalents to the App Store.  Hardly any players dare to have a range of phones without touch screens now, and yet none can come close to multi-touch.  I'm glad that Apple's foray into the mobile phone is being successful, not just because like other users, I love my iPhone but also because I think its important that innovation in the industry is stimulated in this way. 

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