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July 20, 2007
Impressions of the iPhone
One born every minute?
I'm going to run home and ring people just to say 'Guess what, I've got an iPhone, bye!'
Well the iPhone is well and truly launched. This posting is now collecting impressions and comments from the press, blogs etc. Will it live up to the hype is the big question. As stated elsewhere on the blog the real issue for me is how well this gadget is going to work with iTunes and where is iTunes going to go? I think this will be the secret of its long-term success (or not). I'm guessing that Apple are making a play for the mobile moving impage market which will become increasingly important over the next few years. In Britain the big year will 2012! Why? UK goes fully digital & the Olympics are being held in London. Who wsaid that concidences don't exist? (A: Arthur Koestler).
To prove my point here is the comment of a journalist from Business Week, Arik Hesseldahl:
Just installed iTunes and looked in the preferences tab and noticed a new feature specific to the iPhone: Looks like it will back up data from the phone, which is a feature that cell phones in general have been needing for a long....
The Role of iTunes
As a kind correspondent in the comments box has pointed out the facility to back up is available on some phones. A contributor to the Business Week blog above has also noted this. It is the link into iTunes which is important. In this sense iTunes is just bundling already available technologies. Intantaneous subscriptions to podcasts & vodcasts as well as everything else which iTunes has to offer is a powerful marketing tool. iTunes is already a proven and popular technology which other phone companes simply do not have.
Whilst Apple is nominally ahead of the game Nokia, Sony etc will not be far behind but as with the synergies produced by iTunes and iPods supporting archiving and downloading software is going to be crucial. This is where Sony MP3 players have lost out. Functionality combined with becoming a style icon is the game.
An interesting issue is whther iTunes is going to make deals with video content providers which could effectively lock consumers into a sytem. With music the content providers and therefore iTunes had a problem. Music was easy to download in 'pirate' versions and at the end of the day anybody could go to a record shop and get a Digital Rights Management (DRM) free CD. This isn't going to be the same with video content. This huge commercial game seems to be less about phone sales than grabbing a good share of content provision via an online database like iTunes. The chic technology provides a bigger screen and an automatic widescreen facility. Whilst the technology geeks are watching out for what the next versions of the iPhone has in store look out for signs of business dealings with content providers. This is what will drive iPhone sales over the longer term once the gadgetry spree has run its course. If Apple gets this right its share price really will start to become stratospheric and with good reason. A quick look at the Footsie 500 companies will quickly show that the software providers are making more profits on less turnover than hardware providers such as Sony.
I think Apple are likely to be outstandingly successful with this combination. They have learned a lot through the iPod / iTunes combination and this is likely to pale into insignificance once the video infrastructure catches up
Thus far Apple has the edge. There are also some video links to current iPhone "rivals", which aren't really on the link below:
Some people had been queuing for days outside Apple and AT&T stores across the US to ensure they got hold of one of the devices. (The BBC provide a link to an iPhone demonstration from this page).
Can your phone do this?
Whatever else Apple appeared to get off to a good sales launch with over half a million phones sold in its first weekend. (Thursday, 5 July 2007) That has to be impressive by anybody's standards. According to this BBC report 02 is the phone company which is getting the contract to provide iPhones when they launch in the UK in this autumn (2007). However MacWorld of 20th July has discovered an argument that Vodaphone may well be the company which has iPhones if the work of a clever hacker is anything to go by.
The price is expected to be in the region of £300 initially. These sales need to be put into the perspective of the sales of other mobile handset makers. some are arguing that even sales of 10 million is still 'small beer' compared to the Nokias of this world as a BBC analysis argued in January 07 when Jobs announced the gadget:
Mr Jobs predicts Apple will be able to sell in the region of 10 million iPhones in 2008, when the device will be available not just in the US and Europe, but also in the fast-growing Asian market.
While sales on that scale would be good for Apple, they would still be relatively small beer when compared with total annual global mobile sales.
US handset maker Motorola revealed last year that it had sold more than 50 million of its Razr branded mobile phones since its market debut.
Analyst: Apple to Sell 45M iPhones in '09
One web report on the iPhone by an industry journalist Jeff Gamet8:05 AM EDT, June 7th, 2007 comments on the predictions made by a leading analyst called Gene Munster about the sales potential for the iPhone :
Jaffray analyst Gene Munster is predicting that will signal the beginning of a skyrocketing climb leading to 45 million units sold in 2009. For calendar year 2007, he expects Apple will sell 3.2 million units, and 12.4 million in 2008.
Looking at the 45 million unit prediction for calendar year 2009, Mr. Munster commented "While this may seem like a bold prediction, we believe a number in this area is not as far of a reach as some may think. Specifically, to reach iPhone units of 45 million, we believe the product will have 7.0 percent hand set market share in North America and 2.8 percent handset market share in the rest of the world."
Whilst one Internet wag has noted that 45 million phones in one year is a significant amount of the world's population the key point is that Jobs has given an estimate of 10 million sales by that time. Obviously any sales in excess of this will be a feather in the cap of Apple.
What Apple aren't saying
The handset has also been criticised because it does not use the 3G network, does not support instant messaging or voice-activated dialling and does not let people choose ringtones beyond the 25 pre-installed on it.
Some critics have said that the iPhone's touch screen makes texting hard work but most agree that the design is likely to filter down to other mobiles.
Disability & the iPhone
The "Ouch" BBC Disability Magazine has some intersting individual postings such as the one below. The posting has included some choice quotes from Apple geeks which are blunt to say the least.
I'm a bit of an Apple geek on the quiet, so when their sleek and shiny new iPhone was announced last week to whoops of delight, I'm afraid that I rather joined in the chorus of "I want one! Gimme one!" I'm ashamed to say that almost the last thing on my mind was how accessible it might be to blind and visually impaired users, considering that its operation relies almost entirely on touch-screen technology.
I must admit that a phone which is marketing itself on its visual capabilities primarily the playback of larger size video is by its very essence unlikely to be very useful to blind or partially sighted people. Clearly phones which are primarily for voice communications and interface via more haptic or aural methods are going to be more suitable. It does seem a little pointless attacking Apple for designing a piece of technology which is about visual communications. The issue is surely are there a good range of alternative technologies available for bling and partially sighted people. Voice recognition and being able to connect with soembody using voice only instructions seems the way to go. I'm sure this would be more useful for most people as well as for visually impaired people than the iPhone.
so far no manufacturer has made a phone that you can completey customize (font size, colour scheme etc) like you can with say Mac OS or Windows.
One comment on the entry seems to make the point well. Interfacing which can be accessed flexibly by a wide range of users is going to be be better. I imagine this would appeal to a wide range of people. Nevertheless touch technology as an interfacing system for large audiences is in its infancy. I suspect mobile interfacing still has a long way to go. On this basis Apple's technology is to be welcomed even if it is still limited.
Apple sold up to 525,000 iPhones at its stores and AT&T's in the first weekend since the device launched on Friday, the Los Angeles Times has reported.
By Ian Hardy
Click's North America technology correspondent
April 24, 2007
This posting is for some of the student work which has been done in response to a brief research esay comparing some of the latest new media technologies that are current or due to be released in 2007.
Student Essay 1:
Emma Williamson - Comparison of the Blackberry Pearl, iPhone and Sony UX1.
The Blackberry, iPhone and Sony UX1 are very similar in their features and style (apart from the Sony UX1 which is more like a mini computer), but they all have those slight different functions, main priorities and appeal to different markets. All of these devices have functions such as camera, music, e-mail, internet and phone capabilities. However, they all have different key functions that make them unique and different to each other.
Firstly, the Blackberry I believe has been brought out being marketed at businesses and business people. This is because it has features such as an organizer which allows you to keep an integrated address book (make phone calls and send e-mail instantly), a calendar to keep your appointments and meetings organized, a memo pad to jot down those important ideas and points from a meeting, and a tasks function which allows you to tick off your tasks as you do them whilst your on the move. Even though a lot of phones, PDAs, mini computers etc. come with internet access and e-mail account capabilities, the difference with this Blackberry is that you are able to manage 10 different e-mail accounts and log into the internet whilst on the move. For business people this is very good because they will want to be able to manage their e-mails and get in touch with people whenever and wherever they want, and the Blackberry allows them to do this. This device also has some interesting interface features such as a pearl-like trackball navigation system and a small ‘phone-like’ keypad, this uses less space on the interface therefore allowing a slightly larger screen. Also because the Blackberry Pearl is described as a smart phone (www.discoverblackberry.com) it is only phone-size and therefore easy to carry around for everyday business needs. The Blackberry also includes normal everyday functions such as text messaging, ringtone downloading, camera etc. There are some downsides to the Blackberry though, firstly it only has a 64MB integrated memory which will not be large enough of people to store their images and notes etc. that they want, this means that those who buy them will have to buy a compatible microSD card.
Next there is the iPhone. Obviously the first thing that stands out to everyone is the huge 3.5inch widescreen display with no keypad and touch screen capabilities, so you can easily navigate yourself round your new iPhone easily and effectively. Also the iPhone still allows you to sync your device straight to itunes using your pc or mac. Obviously the iPhone has revolutionary phone capabilities as well, using the touch screen keypad to write e-mails and text messages, contact your friends through phone calling and managing your voicemail like e-mail and choosing what to listen to. The iPhone is also compatible with Wi-Fi, whereas the Blackberry does not as of yet, however, there are plans for the future to add Wi-Fi to future Blackberry devices. You are able to browse the internet whenever you are in a Wi-Fi hotspot. You are able to get the iPhone in either a 4 or 8GB built in memory which would be fine for people who just want some music, but for those who need the iPhone for bigger and better things you cannot put in removable memory. The iPhone also comes with an integrated 2megapixel camera. I think that it is obvious the iPhone is most effective for leisure and most probably aimed at the younger market because of the music, film, TV, camera and photo capabilities.
The Sony UX1
Finally we have the Sony UX1, this device is effectively a handheld laptop. It has all the capabilities of a computer just in a smaller package; it comes with word processor capabilities, e-mail, internet, Wi-Fi connection etc. This device has the largest screen (4.5 inches) of the three but also comes with a computer like keypad/board, also it too has touch sensitive screen like the iPhone (two choices, you can choose what you prefer.) the Sony UX1 I believe is being aimed at business people again, and people who need the capabilities of a computer whilst on the move but do not have the space to be constantly carrying round a laptop. You may notice that the UX1 does not have actual phone capabilities but, over the internet you can make internet calls (via a microphone) and log into your favourite instant messaging service (like MSN) to have a chat with your friends on the move. Also the UX1 comes with two integrated cameras, a 0.3megapixel one on top and a 1.3megapixel camera on the back. The UX1 is considerably larger than the other devices but still only weighs a mere 500g, which makes it possible to maybe not carry it in your pocket but all you need is a small bag.
I believe that the intention of the designers and companies of these devices was not to be competing with each other for the best device but because they have so many of the same or similar functions they are, this is because the public want the best new technology. They are aimed at different audiences and markets but they still over lap and could appeal to different people still. The iPhone is definitely aimed at the younger market, for its main leisure capabilities, and the Blackberry and UX1 are both aimed at businesses but the UX1 could also appeal just to those who want a small computer but not a large laptop.
Student Essay 2 (but better):
Mike Crockett - Comparison of the Blackberry Pearl, iPhone and Sony UX1.
Coming soon. . . .
April 15, 2007
Which is best?
This is a research question for AS Students (OCR Media Studies) doing the 'New Media Technologies' option for audiences and institutions. Other readers may use it to help them review the changing nature of the handheld device market, noting that new entrants may be competing or trying to develop new markets. Bear in mind it may well be that the growth of wireless technologies particularly in cities will increase fragmentation in the handheld device marketplace.
Please use the comments boxes below the entry to discuss any issues.
AS New Media Research Question
Using the BlackBerry (8800 & Pearl), iPhone and Sony UX1 as examples compare and contrast the different devices and discuss whether you think they are aimed at different markets or whther they are competing with each other.
To do this question you should:
- Use the links below to research the devices
- Clearly explain the main differences between the different devices (don't go too teccie here)
- On the basis of the technical differences discuss who the likely market for these devices is likely to be (business / leisure)
- Discuss whether you think they are in competition with each other or whther you think the markets they are aiming at are different. (Here you should dicuss price and where and how the devices are marketed)
- You should make a note of the most important sites you use and the date upon which you visited them. (These are essential research skills. The examiner will expect some hard evidence so they can check your assertions made in the exam).
Please note the folloing part of the entry: Several ordinary mobile phones have been released featuring the BlackBerry e-mail client which connects to BlackBerry servers. All these phones have full QWERTY keyboards (except the Motorola MPx220, Nokia E50 and Nokia E60).
This site has an excellent Flashbased product review with full sound.
This site gives you some background details into RIM the company who make BlackBerries
This gives you a review of the Blackberry 8800. The review is useful as it evaluates the Blackberry's leisure abilities as well as business uses such as having bulit in GPS.
Latest business news story fromm BBC on BlackBerry. Make sure you read this one!! note the recent facts and figures about the company's market. Link the market details into the details from the story below also from the BBC:
BBC story on BlackBerry health hazard
This is a useful independent assessment of the BalckBerry from University of Essex computer services department.
Apple's own promotional material noting how 'revilutionary the product is. Please note what features that the iPhone combines which they think justifies the term 'relovultionary'.
BBC technology page reviewing the iPhone
Guardian article on impact upon other phone companies on the announcing of iPhone
Wikipedia entry useful on development of touchscreen technology
this review form Znet makes some useful comparisons with the iPhones capabilities as a mucis / video player with the current top of the range iPods. Note the comments on different screen sizes for example. Also note this extracts below:
The convergence device also takes a step away from its iPod brethren by offering a built-in mic for audio recordings. And unlike most mobile phones, the iPhone offers a standard 3.5mm audio jack, which will work with all mainstream stereo headphones. There's no FM radio but that's nothing new from Apple.
2.0-megapixel camera, a photo-management tool that rotates the display for landscape photos (like with videos), support for Google Maps, conference calling, a speakerphone, and text and multimedia messaging. We imagine there will be personal organiser applications as well, but Jobs kept quiet on such fine details. Connectivity options also look promising with stereo Bluetooth (thankfully), Wi-Fi (a huge plus), POP3 and IMAP4 email, and a Safari Web browser. The free push Yahoo email application looks especially cool since we won't have to wait for syncing with a PC.
On the downside, we were hoping for wireless iTunes music downloads. And it's too bad Apple stopped short of 3G support. Also, we're hoping that Apple introduces a standalone touch-screen iPod without the phone element as not everyone will want a convergence device. And here's the biggest caveat: phones are only as good as the calls they make, so we'll have to wait for our final assessment once we get a review product.
Please also note link to Znet video on iPhone below:
Blow extract from a blog review comment on
Guardian blogs pointing out the comparisons with the BlackBerry market:
Not many people care and this is not aimed squarely at the blackberry/windows market (no outlook sync and Word app yet) so I don't think expandability and applications are an issue (I wager that Apple will add more 3rd party 'controlled' apps a la Google Maps before long). I am more peeved that iTunes songs will not be able to be used as ringtones!
A sceptical comment from the Observer on the iPhone
Link to a blog which points up some iPhone weaknesses
Financial Times Article of March 2007. this article is the most recent an well informed one about the commercial prospects of the iPhone with links to the mobile network in the States which is likely to be the first to provide it.
The Linksys "IPhone" from Cisco
This was an interesting market intervention. Cisco systems a massive global company had patented the name IPhone for quite some time. Apple have had to do a deal with Cisco to use the name iPhone:
Link to US based Linksys for promo materials. What market is being targeted here?
Above BBC report on the story
The Sony UX1
For details on the technology and the promotional and web based marketing material please link to my blog article on Sony Vaio UX1
Review of Sony Vaio UX1. Please also link to the following discussion below. (Note developments in interactivity via the internet here for exam purposes!)
Extract from Sony's initial marketing blurb (please note it is from Sony Europe compare this with the iPhone which is not yet out and with no clear information about what is happening in Europe regarding its release).
Everything about the UX1 makes it the ideal choice for anyone needing full PC capability on the go, particularly when they don’t have the luxury of time and space to open a notebook computer. Architects, engineers, doctors, sales professionals or anyone else, if your work takes you away from a desk, the UX1 can make a real difference.
A discussion blog on the relevance of the Sony Vaio UX1 and whether it will find a market, and if so who is that market?
Where it competes with iPhone:
- It's barely bigger than a thick-ish paperback book, yet it packs a full Vista-touting PC
- It weighs a mere 500g
- 32GB model - it's a Flash drive. This has two advantages: it's faster than a standard drive and it's also more durable since there are no moving parts.
- The 4.5in screen
- The screen is touch-sensitive too
- Features two cameras - a 0.3-megapixel model in the top of the screen and a 1.3-megapixel job on the back),
- One might observe that current UMPC's don't offer cell phone functionality. Until we recall that they DO have 3G or EVDO as well as Bluetooth 2.0. Skype and a bit of software are all that is needed to transform them into mobile phones.
Some of the issues which arise from this are what is the likely future of the Sony Vaio. Given their previousd product release history there will be a better one than the UX1 in a few months time. It will probably based on having a much larger flash memory and will probably be priced at the same level as the UX1. The UX1 will probably come down to about £1300.
The advantages of the machine are obvious for business and professional users. whilst its price may hold it back in the consumer market the ability to write it down as a business expense against tax will help lever it into the professional and commercial market. This should help amortise the obviously large development costs reasonably quickly with an eye to having version as a consumer product in the next couple of years. The fact that it exists now may well persuade many to wait before making a decision over something which is as expensive as an iPhone yet is 'locked down' in terms of its flexibility.
The other issue is what will BlackBerry do. It is clearly a smaller organisation than either Sony or Apple. what it may need to do to compete with iPhone is to improve its memory size and have better entertainment features.
The jury is out over whether these will keep separate markets or go head to head. For many people the Vaio with its abilities to edit video and photos and the current ability to add in extra usb portable hard drives as well as cameras etc will be very attractive to the semi-pro image market as the price comes down.