Apple launched not the iPhone but their MCNO

So the wave of information is clearing up and the real information about the iPhone are coming out from the announcement of the Apple iPhone. Some personal thoughts on this new PMP+phone.

And here is the real deal. Apple has not launched the iPhone, they have launched their MVNO or better their MCNO “Mobile Content Network Operator”:

  • M: Apple provides the hardware, software and applications, iPhone, iTunes and Widgets. They brand the phone.
  • C: music and video are provided by the media owners using iTunes.
  • NO: Cingular in the US provides the wireless network.

This is a very close and protected environment which might work in the US, but in “mobile educated” countries people buy the phone first and then they pick their own operator/carrier. So not sure how it will work. So the 2 years contract is not good. “Mobile Educated” people are used to change their unlocked mobile phone every 8 months.

Mr. Apple statements of “we reinvented the phone” or “smartphones are not so smart” are quite pretentious and the fuzz around the Apple iPhone just demonstrate the power of marketing and how few “Mobile Educated People” are around. Also Nokia, Morotola, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, LG and so on did not go through the process of creating such type of phone? I am sure that most people in the world do not even know who invented the phone.Read the following great posts about the Apple iPhone:

The functionalities that were shown are already available on most smartphones for quite sometime. External SIM Tray and the visual voice mail (the core function is made by the carrier not the phone manufacturer) are great additions. I liked the concept on how to access some functionality using the UI. The album scrolling is great. I liked the concept of “you can touch the music”. Wide screen is great too. This type of UI reduce the number of clicks to get to an application which is good.

Let’s look at the individual functionalities:

Browser: full browsing is great. Nokia already implemented this with the S60 Browser which is based on Safari code! Great move by Apple. Now, I have a question, I did not see clicking a link on one web page to go to another.

Flash: no Flash or Flash Lite.

Video Calling: No! I think Cingular is going to support this on their network.
Wireless and 3G: no syncing via Wi-Fi. I think Wi-Fi will work only at home. Cingular does not have a Wi-Fi network. No 3G, why? Very simple, Apple would have to pay high license fees to Qualcomm who pretty much owns most 3G licenses.

GPS: no GPS and they showed a Google Map! That would have been a great integration!!

Multitasking: did not see any hint on multitasking. Can you listen at the same time music and surf the web or run the widgets? This is a fundamental capability for a mobile phone to be called a smartphones.

Camera: only 2M pixel, no flash. Seams no video recording! You are kidding!! Hope they change this if it’s true.
OS: a lot of people are convinced that the OSX is the same from PC. This cannot be since the CPU cannot handle it. It’s probably a scaled down OSX. Another OS for mobile devices!

SMS: after the calling function, SMS is the most used one. Touch screen keypad is not the best to perform this action since you must look at the screen when typing. People using SMS frequently do not look at the keypad at all anymore. By they way I liked that Mr. Job called SMS and not Text messages since that’s the real name (this goes back to “mobile educated people” issue).

Syncing: seams better then other mobile phone syncing software. Since it uses iTunes to do everything, I would be careful at virus/hacker stealing personal information on your computer.In any case this goes back to the “mobile education” concept that you do not need a computer to have a mobile phone. You should be able to handle all your information and content on your mobile phone without the need of a computer, which is what the majority of the 2.5 billion mobile phone users are doing!

Batteries: no replaceable batteries. Ops! This is not good.

Screen: large is great, but how about scratches? How long will it last? Take a look at your PMP, MP3 player or mobile phone and check how many scratched does it have? Multi touch is a great functionality but it’s not a new concept.

Sensors: great touch here but not a new concept. The Nokia 7650 had already this capabilities in 2002. Switch from portrait to landscape is great.

Patents: 200 of them?! Usual business!

Price: $499 and $599 those are prices for a smartphone. Plus contract for voice and data with Cingular. Let’s see if people are willing to spend those kind on money in the US.
3rd party applications: Apple will not allow 3rd party apps to be installed. This alone is a big issue. They will decide/develop which widgets get to the phone.

Firmware Update: no words.

I would like to see a UAProfile and understand which audio/video/image codecs are available. Be ready to look at the FCC site for more details and specifications.

Market: Apple wants to own 1% of the market by the end of 2008, which is about 8-10 Million iPhone sales. Can they make it? Not sure. Without 3G they will not sell well in other markets.
Unknown: way too many questions, DRM, Voice dialing/recognition, video recording, security/certificates, MMS, Bluetooth sharing and more capabilities are still unknown. Apple needs to learn that for a new mobile phone launch all the features and capabilities need to be known.

Conclusion: great “concept” phone close to production and great jump in the mobile business for Apple. They must introduce 3G and OTA delivery. I hope for them they will make those numbers. One model phone does not make Apple a mobile manufacturer. Will people buy it? Yes. The move is necessary since their core business is to sell hardware and standalone MP3 sale are in decline, convergence devices are the way to go. I think is a great shake for the mobile world, it will spin some great innovation and will push mobile manufacturers and developers to explorer other ways to develop mobile phones, UI, content and applications. In any case mobile phone manufactures need to make a much better effort to marketing their products. Most of the features are already available but people think that those iPhone features were original and completely new.

If you buy it, don’t ever drop it!!



  1. hip2b2 says:

    It is all about the brand. Apple basically wants to keep control of its brand. Hence, the absolute control of the iPhone platform. This is also another of those ominous signs where the telco (in this case, Cingular) is simply a dumb bit pipe. All the value is in the handset and content.

    The Cingular bitpipe.

  2. alpha says:

    The question is : is it a phone ? Is it a smartphone ? Is it a PDA ? Is it an iPod ? I have the feeling that the answers are no. Yes, of course, you can phone, you can listen to music etc… But, it does not capture the essence of the device.

    When Steve Jobs is saying that Apple is reinventing the phone you can think it is extremely arrogant or perhaps it depends on the point of view. I don’t think they will compete with the current phones because it is not a phone. I think they are creating a new market for a new kind of device with a totally different user experience. So, yes, their phone is not the best. Weak on connectivity, control of the applications you can install, no Flash (from what we know but not sure). Yes, there are better smartphones with real keyboards. But, I think it is not important because I don’t think it is a phone. It just has some phone features.

    It is like the iPod at the beginning. Expensive, with less features than some competitors. They created a new market : a new way to enjoy music. A new user experience. A new definition of what a MP3 player had to be.

    I think their device is a hint at the future of mobile computing. And that’s why OS X is important. When they say they run OS X I believe them because it means:

    1 – An Unix on phone. Ok. We already have Linux on phones so why not having a derivative of BSD too. It is a realistic assumption ;

    2 – They are using ObjectiveC instead of C++ like Symbian. Totally realistic. gcc can already generate code for ARM. And porting the ObjectiveC runtime is not that hard.

    3 – They have ported a part of the OS X API : probably Quicktime. But, here again we have Windows Media Video and RealVideo on phones so why not Quicktime. It is realistic.

    4 – The core of their kernel is portable : PowerPC, Intel but before (NeXT era) it was working on other processors. So, having a version on ARM is not suprising.

    5 – The only interrogation is the microkernel. I can’t imagine they have ported Mach. I suspect they may have ported L4 which would have some importance for the future.

    So, I really think they have delivered a new embedded platform for mobile computing (not just phone). We are just seeing the beginning of what is possible. For having developped on Symbian, OS X, Win Mobile etc… I can say that having OS X and its software infrastructure on embedded device is probably what is the most important in this iPhone. It is a huge competitive advantage.

    So, I expect to see several derivative of this iPhone in the future. Some will perhaps answer the points you raised in your post.

    Of course : this comment is just a list of assumptions. I may be totally wrong. But, I don’t think the phone aspect is the most important in the Apple announcement.

  3. [...] As I said before, Apple is creating their own  Mobile Content Network Operator. This is the same business model as “waller garden” that carrier/operators run. Nothing new! Anyway, if you are in the Boston area you can come to the iPhone SDK party meeting organized by Mobile Monday Boston. [...]

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