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Apple's iPhone Isn't the Mobile Phone 'For the Rest of Us'

- 2007.06.29

Bong! . . . :-) . . . Welcome to Macintosh!

Over the years, there have been many revolutionary, breakthrough products.

What defined them as being revolutionary, breakthrough products? Innovation was one factor. Others include seizing an opportunity to reach the masses, not being afraid to try something different, and good old fashioned being at the right place at the right time with the right product.

When you think of the computer industry, you naturally think of Apple in regards to great products and innovation. They've had numerous successes - and numerous failures. Their most recent success? The iPod. The iPod was successful in part due to the points mentioned above.

World, Meet iPhone...

Is the iPhone revolutionary? Absolutely.

Will it have an impact on the cell phone market due to its innovation? Most definitely.

Will it reach out and grab the masses? Nope, nada, not gonna happen - at least not with the rules as Apple has set.

It's a shame, because the iPhone definitely has the potential to change the world, or at least change the way we look at cell phones.

This is vaguely reminiscent to what Apple thought the Lisa (and later the Macintosh) would accomplish when it entered the market in 1983. It had enormous potential to completely reach out and grab the masses.

Why didn't it? Too restrictive, very little software, and $10,000 price, to name a few things.

Fast forward to the iPhone. Again: too restrictive, very little software, and it commands too much of a premium price-wise, to name a few things.

There are three major things among a lot of things that make me question the iPhone making a big splash:

  1. Price: $499 for a base price (4 gig model). $599 for the 8 gig model.
    Most people will not buy a cell phone for $500 - no way. Sure, it's revolutionary, but ching-ching is still the name of the game here. To be fair, the iPod was also expensive in the beginning, before it gained the acceptance of the masses. In a world where cell phone's are cheap commodities that are replaced at will, $500 for a cell phone? Strike one.
  2. Limited to one carrier.
    Notice I'm not mentioning AT&T specifically. It's just wrong to limit a phone to one carrier, no matter who it is. This limits choice and therefore limits the appeal to the masses. While it's understandable why Apple would take this position in the computer industry with the Mac, and perhaps even with the iPod, this will not work in the cell phone industry. Take into account the many people who are already locked in with their cell phone provider of choice. Maybe they'd love to get in on the iPhone goodness, but they can't. Strike two.
  3. No prepaid option.
    Let's face it. We're locked into contracts with just about anything these days. You can rarely get away from it. With most cell phones, however, you at least have the option for prepaid or "pay as you go" service. No joy in the case of the iPhone. You're locked into a two-year agreement. A lot can happen in two years. Oh, if that's not enough to deter you, think of this: If you cancel early, you get to pay a lovely parting fee of $175. That's a over a third of the cost of the basic iPhone! Strike three, you're out!

I have many other problems with the iPhone. The price plans are much too expensive for most people on a budget. $59.99 to start out with, yuck. I can already hear the complainers.

"But you get unlimited email and Web access, roll-over minutes, 200 SMS text messages, visual voicemail, mobile-to mobile, and 450 minutes for that price. ($79.99 for 900 minutes and $99.99 for 1350 minutes.) What's wrong with that?"

A lot of people don't need all that jazz, especially if they're on a budget. Keep it simple and keep it affordable, please. You have to have iPhone activated to use all the features.

And that's another thing - you need to pay an activation fee of $36. Personally, I don't know anyone who would buy the iPhone just to act as a widescreen iPod, but I'm sure there are such people out there.

Bottom line: I'm amazed at what the iPhone is. Apple has pulled off another truly wonderful feat. One of the biggest reasons I want the iPhone to succeed is to bring more attention to the Mac.

The iPhone clearly is a winner innovation wise, but it's sad to think that Apple has insured it won't reach the masses by offering it only to the higher echelons. I guess us little people will have to settle for our disposable cell phones with their clunky, awkward user interfaces and physical buttons until Apple wakes up and markets the iPhone as the phone for "the rest of us." LEM

Editor's note: We have divided opinions about the iPhone here at Low End Mac, and we'll be sharing more of them with you after our summer holidays. See you on July 12. Dan Knight, publisher

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