iPhone sports aged look?

Telstra chief operations officer Greg Winn believes Apple's iPhone isn't a big deal. Is he on the money?

commentary Yes, according to Telstra chief operations officer Greg Winn.

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Last week, Winn launched a verbal tirade against Apple, where he made special mention of the much-hyped iPhone all-in-one mobile device.

The iPhone is slated to have three main functions: mobile phone, wide-screen iPod with touch controls, and Internet communications device.

"There's an old saying -- stick to your knitting -- and Apple is not a mobile phone manufacturer, that's not their knitting," Winn told AAP after the telco announced a 20 percent fall in first half profits.

The iPhone, he said, didn't have anything new to offer.

"You can pretty much be assured that Nokia, Motorola, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and ZTE and others will be coming out with devices that have similar functionality.

"I think people overreacted to it -- there was not a lot of tremendously new stuff if you think about it.

"It was maybe kind of cool on the touchscreen technology but touchscreen technology is another domain, so it's only a matter of time before it went to the device," Winn said.

For a company whose biggest claim to fame in recent time is a TV commercial on rabbits and the Great Wall of China, Winn is on the ball here.

He's absolutely right in saying the iPhone doesn't present anything new but in the business world, you don't have to create something new to make money ... the smart way and the right way would be to innovate; build upon existing products and services to make 10 dollars from spending a dollar.

Apple has shown the way with the iPod -- MP3 players have been around for ages but the iPod's design, functionality and uber coolness blew the competition away. The iPhone will enjoy similar or greater success.

The iPhone arrives in Australia some time next year although the US release is mid-2007.

The Telstra executive, who happens to be an American, also took Apple to task for teaming up with US mobile carrier Cingular, saying: "They [Apple] did an exclusive with Cingular and they talked about a global rollout -- well, Cingular is not a global company."

He's right again. Cingular isn't a global company but AT&T is.

Granted that Telstra and AT&T play in two different segments in the telecommunications market in Australia but when you have an influential parent, anything can happen. So will Winn lose or draw? Watch this space because Apple clearly has big plans to keep the rabbit out.

Fran Foo is ZDNet Australia managing editor.

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