Why Apple is the only company that matters

Need I say more?

Apple is the only company that can give me quicksilver shimmering total-adrenaline-dump shivers over a product announcement. It hardly even needs to be said that this will change everything. Again.

Let’s talk a little bit about why. And let’s be very clear about it: this is an everyware phone, the very first, a true ubiquitous device. You no longer need mobile providers, you no longer need to suffer Windows Mobile, you don’t need to compromise anything at all to have direct and immediate access to every networked service in existence right there on your phone.

Can I think of a few things they left out? Sure I can. But that’s just the point: the iPod was able to achieve market hegemony not because it did everything a music player could do, but because it represented the consummate refinement of what most people want from a music player most of the time. Same here. (I actually heard Steve enunciate the words I’ve been croaking out for years: a phone’s killer app is making calls.)

You’ll notice, too, that what Apple is offering here is the first platform for reasonably accessible mobile-application development. I cannot wait to get my hands on one of these. Like you couldn’t tell.

15 responses to “Why Apple is the only company that matters”

  1. C says :

    Functionality not built in from the get go is sort of a moot point — unlike the iPod the fact that this is basically OSX on a phone with a fluid interface means extending functionality is just a matter of writing it!

    I’m itching to see what text looks like on this new 160ppi display. Particularly long sessions of reading and how it holds up to the experience of an eInk Sony eBook.

  2. Abe Burmeister says :

    I read this yesterday and just nodded in agreement. But when I woke up today I just thought about the lack of keyboard, and reading David Pogue in the NYT just compounded that thought. This like a great touch screen, but remember how the first Treo’s came in two models? One with keyboard, one all touch? The killer app on phones might have been making calls a few years ago, but now it might just be txt. I certainly have tipped the balance, some situations call for a call, some for a txt, but the later taking the lead… I certainly wouldn’t bet against Apple, but I’m starting to wonder if they’ve been sniffing their own bs a little bit.

    As for developing apps, they haven’t exactly said how open that actually is, have they? Let’s hope they make the right choice.

  3. speedbird says :

    I think that’s fair comment. I certainly interpreted “OS X” to mean “a version of OS X robust enough to permit appropriate OS X applications to run on it,” which heavily implies the level of openness I crowed about, but which may not turn out to be what Apple means by it.

    I can’t imagine, though, that there won’t be an unusual amount of ferment within hours of the SDK hitting the streets.

    Of course, this morning we have various reports implying that Apple intends to undercut the iPhone’s utility as a VoIP client, out of consideration for its new partner. What perplexes me in this scenario is why Steve would feel that getting into bed with Cingular (or with any mobile provider whatsoever) would generate enough of an upside that he’d want to subvert the clear evolutionary pathway for voice communication, ambient IP.

    Bottom line is that nobody knows yet. Steve, in all likelihood, doesn’t know yet; there’s a lot of sheets on my calendar between now and June. I, at least, expect to be able to use this device for something like the full range of functionality implied by OS X + WiFi, not as some cut-off-at-the-knees piece of Cingular garbage.

  4. Abe Burmeister says :


    not exactly well sourced, but Engadget is claiming there will be no options for 3rd party software. Also no 3G which pretty much cripples the whole wireless internet, not interested in spending my days hunting open hotspots. Still can’t wait to get my hands on one of these, but I’m starting to feel like there is too much hype…

  5. speedbird says :

    I’m not so worried about open hotspots, when the trend is self-evidently toward free municipal wireless. I’m not usually a drinker of industry Kool-Aid, but I think blanket coverage is going to break usefully big well within the (nominal 12-month) product lifespan of even the first-generation iPhone. Beyond that, I think the question is utterly moot.

  6. six says :

    Tim Wu says now that the (internet) network neutrality coalition has got its legs under it, he’ll be thinking about ways to open up the mobile network. This is an appropriate step. We need more openness, because we need more functionality. This is a civilizational issue. This ridiculous game of waiting around for AT&T/Cingular/Verizon et al. to decide which hamstrung functionality they want to dribble out piecemeal and pricegouge consumers for has got to stop.

  7. speedbird says :

    Well, I of course wish Tim all the luck in the world (hi Tim!), but I’m not holding my breath.

    If there’s any disappointment in the iPhone announcement for me, it’s that that double-breasted, glad-handing oaf from Cingular was up on the stage, instead of someone from Skype and the mayors of the ten largest cities in America announcing the rollout of their free muni wireless coverage. Now that would have truly, fundamentally changed the rules of the game, and we could be moving on to discussions like this.

    The only way Tim, or anyone else, is going to pry any openness out of the mobile industry is to cut them, their walled gardens and their hamfisted UI interventions out of the equation entirely. Whatever the intention, I have a hard time seeing how a device with the announced functionality of the iPhone can be hobbled enough to prevent people from using it to do just this.

  8. Abe Burmeister says :

    Haven’t really been following the municipal wifi issue much, but I was under the impression that congress was in the process of legislating it out of existence… If nothing else there is a big legal/legislative fight brewing between the infrastructure companies and those municipalities that realize the wifi potential.

    Much as I hate to admit it, the whole issue is somewhat mute given that 3G is here now, and works. My internet went down last month for a few days and I connected the Treo to the laptop and was able to surf all day at true broadband speeds, a much better experience than most of wifi in the cafe ones…

    Bottom line, why in the world is there no 3G in this device?

  9. Abe Burmeister says :


    “Mr. Jobs is moving in that direction, too, but it appears that he wants to control his device much more closely than his competitors.

    “‘We define everything that is on the phone,” he said. “You don’t want your phone to be like a PC. The last thing you want is to have loaded three apps on your phone and then you go to make a call and it doesn’t work anymore. These are more like iPods than they are like computers.’

    “The iPhone, he insisted, would not look like the rest of the wireless industry.

    “‘These are devices that need to work, and you can’t do that if you load any software on them,” he said. “That doesn’t mean there’s not going to be software to buy that you can load on them coming from us. It doesn’t mean we have to write it all, but it means it has to be more of a controlled environment.'”

  10. liza says :

    When I heard of iPhone I immediately thought about you and was ready to post about how it is indeed the first everyware gadget. I thought to myself, let me check with Adam first.

    Et, voila!

  11. kazys varnelis says :

    Adam the giddy enthusiasm that you and I shared the other day is a bit mooted on my end. Some points here:


    Most notably the issue of third party applications. You write

    “You’ll notice, too, that what Apple is offering here is the first platform for reasonably accessible mobile-application development.”

    Absolutely. This could have been a great opportunity, but locking down the apps makes me question whether I will pick one up. A nonreplaceable battery (unless it was SIGNIFICANTLY better than that in my Treo) is also a problem although less of a non-starter.

  12. eric says :

    Just a guess, and this could be just as appropriate regarding the development of games for the iPod.

    It may be that they are currently working on building a cleaner environment for developing in Xcode for the two devices.

    Much like hastily cleaning the apartment while yelling “I’ll be right there!” when someone’s ringing your door.

    Previous development environments (Carbon anyone?) were anything but friendly and streight forward which kept a lot of software developers from taking the plunge or, if they went ahead anyway, quite often created software with a poor user experience.

    As for leaving things off from the initial product, they could very well be holding back certain features or plans for features for later. Announce them at a trickle pace to keep interest high for a prolonged period of time.

    …just a guess.

  13. speedbird says :

    (This makes a lot of sense to me, BTW.)

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