TECH TALK: Apple iPhone: Industry Impact

Om Malik wrote about how Apple’s iPhone will change the mobile business:

A true web applications platform for the mobile: Charles Ying thinks that Apple just reinvented the mobile applications platform. This isnt mobile Flash, mobile Java, or even the mobile Web. Its the real Web, the real deal, he writes.

Break the Wireless Walled Gardens iPhone is fully functional iPod, with full tracks of music. Do you need to download ring tones for $2.99 a pop, when you get a full song for a third of that price? Ditto for Wallpapers, and themes, and everything else that is being sold on the carrier deck.

Shift of control to the customers: If the embedded (Safari) browser if it performs the way as hyped by Jobs & Co., will give us the choice-control we have on the web. Search engines to web sites nothing will be determined by the wireless carriers who have thus far done nothing but create barriers between what we want, and giving us what they want to sell.

Slow demise of subsidized, boring phones filled with bloat ware: The introduction of the unlocked iPhone will do two things it would basically get US buyers savvy to the idea of buying full priced unlocked phones. Secondly, it is going to cause a behavior change – of buying phones instead of freebies.

Keep it simple or else: One of the lasting (at least for me) changes that iPhone will bring to the mobile market is simplification. Their new user interface is going to make complex mobile services relatively simple, and can have the same impact as Blackberry had on the corporate market.

Tomi Ahonen wrote:

I am certain that the mobile telecoms world will count its time in two Eras. The Era BI: time Before the iPhone, and the ERA AI: time After the iPhone.

From June all reviewers around the world will compare all new high-end phones with the iPhone. How near do they arrive in being “almost as good as the iPhone”. This is the phrase we will see in most reviews of smartphones. And the yardstick in usability will from now on – and my prediction is that for the fore-seeable future of mobile phones – the latest iPhone. A clear watershed moment in the industry. For the first time a major handset device which was designed from the start to be both a multipurpose smartphone and yet easy to use.

The second and much greater impact is the mobile internet, or the value-add services industry of mobile telecoms…It has been a lopsided battle, when most early internet-capable phones were monochrome WAP phones or modest speed GPRS phones with still tiny colour screens. Now we get the glorious sharp 3.5″ iPhone screen and its powerful web access software. It was easy to suggest a laptop with a WiFi or WiMax access card would “forever” trump a 2″ tiny pocket screen of an early 2.5G or 3G phone. Now we get the big screen iPhone and suddenly the pocket internet seems very plausible. And even at 500 dollars (subsidised) the iPhone costs half that of a laptop. Do we really need a new computer. If all we need is e-mail and music and uploading some pictures to Flickr or Myspace, isn’t an iPhone enough?

Yes the iPhone is a radical device and yes, we need the American IT and media and adveritsing industries to wake up to mobile phones. And yes, the iPhone will bring valuable goals for all user interface design in mobile telecoms, both for handset makers and mobile operators. But all invention didn’t happen at Apple or be caused by the iPhone.

But the level of the noise around mobile will double in June. Very many big guns will join the game. That is good. And it will be a change from an old Era, where handset makers like Nokia and Motorola ran the show with the major mobile operators (carriers). Now media giants will join in, as will major IT players and internet companies.

AT&T too is expected to benefit from being the exclusive partner for iPhone. The New York Times wrote:

It is a testament to the power of Apples brand name and reputation that many consumers appear to be giving it a chance to redefine phones as the iPod did music players. AT&T said 1.1 million potential customers had signed up on the companys Web site asking to be contacted when the phone is for sale.

Steven P. Jobs, Apples chief executive, has said that he expects Apple to sell 10 million iPhones by the end of 2008. That projection could include sales outside the United States, but Apple has not yet announced any deals with foreign carriers.

For AT&T the iPhone launch is bigger than the launch of a new device, Mr. Hodulik said. Its something more strategic. Its about moving the whole brand.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.