Apple previewed its iPhone 3.0 beta on Tuesday and there were plenty of items that weren't earth shattering, but add up to a big deal.
Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster says:
We believe the many new features announced today add up to a major difference in the iPhone's value proposition. We believe Apple addressed key issues that were leading some consumers to competing devices for multimedia messaging (MMS) and enterprise email (improved exchange support and a horizontal keyboard). Also, a new version of the App Store now supports new business models such as subscription apps, and micropayments for additional content within an app.
It's all about the App Store. Apple demonstrated new business models for the App Store including subscription payments. Developers keep 70 percent of the revenue as usual, but can experiment a good deal. Magazine subscriptions, additional levels to games and eBooks are all possible. Renewals are all a part of something dubbed in-App purchases. In a nutshell, iPhone 3.0 software will enable a lot of a la carte purchases on the fly.
Significance: When every platform--RIM, Microsoft, Nokia and Android--are launching stores Apple is making the right moves to keep developers in the fold and make them some extra dough. Because Apple is an early mover on app marketplaces it can adjust quicker since it has already made and learned from its early mistakes. The success shows up in the developer count. Apple has 50,000 developers in its iPhone developer program and 60 percent of them are new to the platform.
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Push technology to improve battery life. I've heard of folks disabling 3G during the course of the day just so they can preserve battery life on the iPhone. What's the point? Realizing that battery life is an issue, Apple 3.0 will have push technology. Apple was late to the push technology game, but re-architecting its system push notification and the elimination of background processes should help battery life.
Significance: Apple had to do something to preserve battery life on the iPhone.
Apple is trying to show the enterprise implications of the iPhone, much to the chagrin of the faithful. Oracle showed off an iPhone app and got panned. Groans, comments of "Boracle" were everywhere. But Oracle has five apps on the App Store and the inventory alerts may not be as much fun as a stupid game, but I guarantee you the ROI is better.
Significance: Apple's push notification addition may encourage more enterprise apps.
Accessories matter. Apple appears to be using accessories as a way to embed the iPhone in day to day life. One of the more interesting demonstrations came from Lifescan, a Johnson & Johnson company. Hooked up to a glucose meter, the iPhone becomes a nice way to check sugar levels for diabetics.
Significance: There are new markets for the iPhone and one could be verticals. If the health care sector was hot for tablet PCs just imagine how they'll drool over an iPhone.
There was a good bit of catch-up being played. Apple added some new features in the iPhone 3.0 beta that arguably should have been around before. Exhibit A is cut and paste and support for MMS.
Significance: Only Apple can make playing catch-up look good. Nevertheless those features will eliminate any stray complaints about the iPhone.