As most of you have probably heard, Apple, Inc. (yes, they will no longer be known as Apple Computer, Inc.) recently announced their iPhone. Believe you me, the phone is so incredibly media hyped it makes the Sony Playstation 3 disappear into the shadows. But like the Playstation 3, the iPhone has been all flash and very little substance.
As with every device released by Apple, Steve Jobs introduced their next new product with the clichèd line "Every once in a while a product comes along that revolutionizes the way we use technology..." Was the iPhone really revolutionary? Maybe in its implementation of a couple things, like the accelerometer that detects in which direction the iPhone was rotated, or the sensor that detects whether or not the phone is close to your face so that it can turn off the touch-screen display so you don't accidentally dial numbers or waste battery life.
But to tell you honestly, with those exceptions, there isn't much more that really advances the way we look at or use cell phones. As a Cingular agent, it is important for me to know how this phone will be better than other phones, and to tell you there are a number of things that I don't see as advantages. First and most importantly, the phone is not a 3G phone, meaning that it is not using the latest wireless high-speed Internet access. It also means that you can't use the Google Maps program built-into the iPhone at the same time as you are on the phone (thereby allowing you to use a Bluetooth headset to either see or give directions over the phone). Another gripe I have is that, despite the phone is based on OSX, the beautiful desktop operating system, you can not add additional software, despite the gigabytes of storage space you get. Now, I have a PDA phone that runs on Windows Mobile 5.0, is a touch screen, auto-rotates the screen when my keyboard has been slid-out, and I can install tons of additional software on it and find that it was truly revolutionary when it was released. But the iPhone just doesn't come up to par. And finally, the biggest gripe employees like myself will find, is that only Apple stores and Cingular Corporate-owned stores will carry the phone - with no discount given regardless of contract length signed.
This will be the worst mistake for Cingular. First, there are not as many corporate-owned locations as there are agent locations, and if the agent locations can't get hold of the phone to learn how to use it, supporting it may be very difficult (Cingular internal documents already state that agents can not send away iPhone customers regardless or not the agent knows how to fix the phone). This ends up in lost customers (probably a strategic move to help Cingular's campaign in eliminating agents altogether) for agent stores, as well as more customer frustration. Secondly, if no subsidies are given for the iPhone (as seems to be the case so far based on internal documents), what will encourage a customer to sign a new 1- or 2-year contract if the price will be the same as those who sign no contract? That does not seem very good, considering carriers all love contracts (and the whole reason for the contract allows customers to get discounts on phones altogether). So why sign a contract for the iPhone at all?
Now, the iPhone has a few touches that are nice, but the list of advantages is extremely short. iTunes support is a plus (and a minus since it is a proprietary format and only Apple products can read that format - uh, can we say "monopoly?"). Music and video on one device is always nice, and having plenty of space is awesome to boot. And the phone looks very nice. But that seems to be the extent of its advantages.
For a device that is rumored to be revolutionary, this phone fell very short in its ability to be revolutionary. Not only that, because of its already outdated phone hardware (heck, its outdated and the phone hasn't been released yet!) I don't see why people should adopt its first model, especially since I have already heard from a Cingular mouthpiece that 2 other units are already in the pipeline that include the 3G feature. Maybe one that supports installing additional software? Unlikely since that will cut Apple off at the knees - no need to revamp the Operating System since it can be tweaked and proded in the direction to last a lot longer than Apple & Cingular want considering Apple & Cingular have a 3 year exclusive contract with each other (which one or the other will inevitably screw up and get into a legal battle over). Figures - just focusing on profits, the marque of bad business practices.
P.S. By the way, Cingular will soon be known as "The New AT&T." Great, more problems.
P.S.S. The views presented in this post are exclusively the views represented my myself and do not endorse or defame either Apple or Cingular. However the information gathered here is accurate as of the time of writing. I'm just writing this as commentary and providing information to my customers so that they can make safe decisions for their investments.