Wednesday, January 10, 2007

iPhone letdown: the problems loom and Palm gets a bit more breathing room

As I’ve detoxed from my “Jobs reality distortion field” intoxication the dark sides of the iPhone have sunk in. I agree with all the items on Top 10 things to hate about the Apple iPhone | APC Magazine, here’s my personal summary:

  • Cingular may be the only US carrier with a worse reputation than Sprint.

  • EDGE means this is basically a voice/SMS phone, an iPod, and a WiFi Slate (Remember Jobs saying Apple would never do a slate/PDA/Newton? You didn’t believe him did you?) in one package. It’s not a wide-area network device.

  • It will need a case of some sort to protect it, so it’s getting bulky.

  • It sounds very much like this will be a locked device — no third party applications. In particular, no ePocrates for physicians. Maybe this will change, but that’s the consensus. [jf: this appears certain. Closed and locked, maybe because Jobs remembers his career as a phone hacker.]

  • I assume it will have a bluetooth keyboard/headset combo that’s easy to carry, so I’m not that worried about the data entry issues. The onscreen stuff will be for portable use, the remote kb will hold the earset in one’s briefcase.

  • TIME claims you can’t sync it wirelessly! Pardon me??!!

  • No Exchange/Outlook support?

That’s an awful pile of negatives. I’m waiting for the smoke to clear, but I wonder if I’m going to have to buy a low end Treo and wait for the next iteration of the iPhone …

Update 1/10/07: There remains a faint hope that Apple will sell a version of this without the phone that is not locked. In other words, an iPod/PDA/Slate product with VOIP support but no phone, including an 80GB hard drive and an open platform for $500. Sigh. I don't get a good feeling about this ...

Update 1/13/07: I've heard a few theories about why the phone is locked. The last three are mine.
  • slow phone hackers: unlocking the phone, attacking Cingular's network, etc.
  • the OS implementation is very unstable -- so Apple wants to limit who can work on it
  • Apple will create a software channel and extract a percentage for every app produced
  • Optimize user experience and reliability
  • Create a robust DRM environment for viewing and distributing digital media
  • Security (no virus, bot, spam), security management, and authentication for eCommerce (digital cash) and all authenticated transactions. Expect the iPhone to have some sort of biometric identifier at launch time.
  • Enable a shift from selling software to leasing sofware.
The last is why the iPod is locked, why iTV is locked, and why iTV doesn't manage anything but iTunes DRMd media. More on the DarkSeid of Apple in a future post.

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