What Have I Done For Apple Users Lately?
Plenty. This would be a good time for you to emit a few hosannas in my direction. If you're a gadget fan, know that I arranged for the iPhone to be introduced, and if you're a stockholder, well, you know what would have happened to Apple's stock price if they had not done so.
I suppose I have to spell it out. Just a few days ago I admitted to purchasing a Motorola Q "smartphone" and even wrote a review about it. Steve Jobs, who at the time was waffling about introducing the iPhone, saw that I had done so and made a quick decision. "Hmmm. Although we won't be able to ship the iPhone 'til June, if I announce it now it will make Richard cranky because he didn't wait the few extra days." And so it came to be.* Did Jobs plan work? No! Although the pictures I have seen of the iPhone are beautiful, the product has a fatal flaw. But let's give it credit first for what's right.
Quoting my Q review:
The display is beautiful but small. I'm a big fan of high-resolution displays; the 320 by 240 of the Q is about right for its size, but they might have been able to cram more information onto it by making it a bit finer, say 480 by 360.
Guess what new Apple product has a 320 by 480 display? Almost there! (Of course, the Apple display is physically larger, so it might even handle 640 by 480. Dream on.)
Having touchscreen features would have been a plus...
Guess what new Apple product has—in fact IS—a touchscreen!
Also, the iPhone has a 2 megapixel camera instead of the 1.3 of the Q. Actually, 1.3 megapixels isn't a problem; what's undoubtedly wrong with the Q is that the lens is so tiny you can't get enough photons onto them. Hopefully the iPhone has a lens commensurate with its pixellage.
Behold the old gigabytes and behold the new. Let's agree that the proposed price, $499, for a 4 gigabyte iPhone is somehow "correct.." What, then, should the price for an 8GB iPhone be, assuming one should even exist? Well, the mini-SD card in the picture sells for $30 and holds 2GB. Given that $30 is a retail price, and that only two of these would be needed, without the attendant packaging, manual, and individual retail overhead, it's not much of a stretch to say that an 8GB iPhone should have, at most, a $60 premium. But I would argue that it shouldn't even exist. IPods, which are the standard for portable music, come in 40GB and 60GB versions. Almost large enough! Why not offer a similar iPhone?
One guess I read is that they don't want to cannibalize the iPod sales. But given the exclusive marketing arrangement with Cingular, opportunities for serious cannibalization are lacking. My big problem with the iPhone is, ironically, that it's a disappointment as a music player! The Q, which has a 2GB (or maybe 4GB if that size mini-SD card is available) capacity, costs only $100 after the usual contract shenanigans. The iPhone is five or six times that, and still isn't a serious music player as the real iPods and players with hard disks are.
You won't be surprised that Steve Jobs never asked me about this, even though he clearly thought enough of my Q review to rush the iPhone announcement. But I'm not tempted by the iPhone yet. As nice as the screen and camera and other features I've seen in the news seem to be, 8GB just won't do it. Whether they use flash or a hard drive, they have got to make the iPhone music capacity commensurate with the larger iPods before I'm even tempted. I do hope and expect that Motorola, Nokia, and that lot will view this as a wake-up call and try to out-Apple Apple on the music player. I'll give them a while—my Verizon contract has almost two years to run.
NP: "Peace of Mind" - Blue Cheer
*If you live in the Northeast, you might also want to sing a paean to my snowblower, which is responsible for the warm and snow-free winter we have experienced thus far.