End of the PC? No, iPhone is the end of the cell phone

End of the PC? No, iPhone is the end of the cell phone

Summary: It's a longshot, but if they succeed the cell industry will be soon shrinking rapidly into irrelevancy. All that wasted money! Too bad because all things will be Internet Protocol-based -- the best true convergence. The Wi-Fi spots today will burgeon and blossom via new WiMax meshes, and later via satellite-based Internet canopies (for higher "roaming" cost, for sure). Your PC and iPhone (using the same guts and GUIs) will hop along an IP constellation, with certain "visitor" fees applied but no single-provider lock-in.

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TOPICS: iPhone
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You can read a lot from what the Apple iPhone will do, and surely there are a lot of glaring deficiencies. What can we read of them?

And what should we make of the iPhone's company on stage at this week's Macworld? Google, Yahoo, and Cingular. The best of the Internet, and arguably the worst of the cell and broadband wireless providers, albeit with some AT&T heft yet to be leveraged.

What this tells me is that Jobs and company are forging a bold stroke, and forcing a major confrontation. Ultimately, in the long run, would you as a business user and consumer rather have ubiquitous Internet access and VOIP, or the current piss-poor assemblage of mangled handset (but it's sleek and pretty!), hopscotch cell networks, analog-to-digital dreck, call drops and poor customer service, bad software, bad billing, and lack of integration to your PC and content?

The fact is that the needed convergence between handset makers, network providers, content aggregators, and software third-parties (including Microsoft, screwing around with Vista) have failed miserably -- at least in the U.S. This has left a huge hole open through which Apple will drive the iPhone.

It's a longshot in the short-term, but if they succeed the cell industry will be soon shrinking rapidly into irrelevancy. All that wasted money! Too bad because all things will be Internet Protocol-based -- the best true convergence. The Wi-Fi spots today will burgeon and blossom via new WiMax meshes, and later via satellite-based Internet canopies (for higher "roaming" cost, for sure). Your PC and iPhone (using the same guts and GUIs) will hop along an IP constellation, with certain "visitor" fees applied but no single-provider lock-in.

Connection costs should drop away; advertising-oriented services will pick up the economic slack. The true cost will be in buying the best devices, and pay-per-view content. You know, the Apple way plus the Google way.

The trick, as Apple well knows is to provide enough stick and enough carrot to drag the users to this inevitability. The design and feature set of the Apple iPhone as described is that combination of stick and carrot, and that best describes its odd selection of strengths and weaknesses. If successful the iPhone could destroy massive global industries while advancing the newer Internet-based companies, largely to the users' benefit.

Because if the software-hardware-UI designs are so compelling, as they seem ... And if the voice capabilities can be good enough to just keep up with an existing mediocre cell service ecology ... And if Google and Yahoo can provide the compelling content and services (and ad-based financial support) ... Well, then the tug of the user may be enough to drag the telcos and others in the colliding industries along -- or into the dust. The iPhone may be able to finally push all the convergence over to the top to all IP/VOIP/OS X all the time, everywhere.

And so what remains to sew up are the essential missing ingredients: the VOIP and sufficient WiFi/WiMax mesh. I expect that Google will soon unveil a beta VOIP offering. If they were smart they would share it with Yahoo, but not MSN. You recall that Google collects cell phone numbers when one signs up for certain Google "free" services, such as Gmail? These call numbers are convertible.

While I have been less then wowed by VOIP as a replacement for a landline, I expect that VOIP on a mobile device such as an iPhone would be an amendable transition from cell service, as long as I have sufficient mobile broadband. Google has most everything in place to do VOIP right, and, by the way, integrate its advertising and location capabilities right in there. Talk about a killer application.

Cisco will do quite well allowing these networks to work together well. They should get out of the way on the iPhone trademark and focus on the iRouter instead. One should know when they are a pick and shovel.

One corporation missing but not unfelt on the stage at Macworld was Intel. My blue-sky musing here would be pie in the sky without Intel as a behind-the-scenes kingmaker. Intel forges together the disparate architectures of the end point with the mesh. I'm thinking of the massive investment in time, clout and partnerships needed to bringing about the continental WiMax capabilities for the major metro markets. Perhaps the governments would like to weigh in? Would general productivity be in the national interest?

If this all somehow works out in near the fashion I envision then the U.S. approach could spread around the globe. That's right, no G3. No G3 ownership! Auction it all back and write off the loss. It all goes IP, and the same BRIC countries that like Linux may also like state-managed WiMax. The once-nationalize telcos will follow, no doubt.

So in June, vote with your dollars and drop your cell phone and pick up an iPhone. It's the Internet. It's the future.[poll id=12]

Topic: iPhone

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51 comments
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  • I can't belive what I am reading.. Are you on drugs?

    Apple iPhone is the biggest crap I have seen so far
    and I would not touch it with a mile long stick
    it is not a phone it is a phone capable iPod not the other way around.
    I do agree with the other points about universal connectivity and
    owner free service, but that is not the case, at least not in the nearest future I can see
    I belie the Europe has the right idea on what the cell phone service should be
    and how to implement it.
    vbp1
    • Yeah! He has to be!

      You said enough to cover the matter, vbp1. While many of Gardner's statements are accurate, the iPhone isn't the answer -- and probably won't be. It's an overhyped WinMobile5 with a couple of extra bells and whistles. The solution to what's missing and what needs to be fixed is still out there, waiting to come forth.... I wouldn't own one either, but then... I wouldn't let an Apple computer in my house either.
      Mr_Wizard
    • Have you even taken the time to see how it works?

      I've read quite a few negative comments and I really don't think these people have taken the time to watch the demo (go to Apple.com and watch Jobs do the demo). The iphone is nothing like any cell phone I've ever seen. To say that other products out there are the same is crazy. This negativity comes form people's dislike of Apple and the fear that they compete with MicroSoft,or whatever. To look at something as new and innovative as Apple's iphone and be so critical is really being close minded. How about trying to be a little more open minded. For the average person, this product has the potential to be something really great.

      Another crazy thing that is showing up in people's comments is the idea that Apple should have designed a product that is absolutely perfect with no room for future improvements or new versions. I got the impression that one of the major benefits of the iphone is that it can be upgraded without having to scrap the hardware,(unlike current products) but by downloading new software.

      I see in the future - more providers, third party applications, and other things you can't even predict.
      Prime Detailer
      • Actually, yes I have...

        Prime Detailer said:

        "I've read quite a few negative comments and I really don't think these people have taken the time to watch the demo (go to Apple.com and watch Jobs do the demo)."

        I have watched the Jobs demo. He stated what the new handset has onboard, and described and demonstrated *some* of what it can do.

        I have also followed up on other descriptions of the handset.

        "To say that other products out there are the same is crazy. This negativity comes form people's dislike of Apple and the fear that they compete with MicroSoft,or whatever. To look at something as new and innovative as Apple's iphone and be so critical is really being close minded. How about trying to be a little more open minded. For the average person, this product has the potential to be something really great."

        Actually, there are a number of products "out there" which have similar features. No, they are not the same as Apple's handset. But they do perform similarly, and many of them are *not* locked into a single carrier the way Apple's product is.

        The fact that Apple's product competes with Windows is irrelevant.

        And I would say that Apple's product equally has the potential of being the average user's worst nightmare.

        " I got the impression that one of the major benefits of the iphone is that it can be upgraded without having to scrap the hardware,(unlike current products) but by downloading new software."

        Really? Perhaps you should take a look at David Berlind's blog about upgrading the OS on his Motorola "Q" smartphone. (Sorry, I don't have a link for you, but you should be able to find it under "Berlind's Testbed".) While I think the process would likely be less convoluted than the upgrading (rather, entirely *replace* the installed OS) process you must go through with the "Q", I also think that it is likely to produce the same outcome--a crashed phone that is unusable.

        Do you think that Apple would be willing to offer a free OS upgrade? Have they done that recently with OS X for their computers? Think again.

        Also, what would happen to any files or applications (presuming that one can load applications on the Apple handset) if/when you "upgrade" its OS? With the "Q", you transfer them to a flash memory card, then reload (or reinstall, depending) them after you have (hopefully) performed a successful OS replacement. Since the Apple handset doesn't have a flash memory port...

        No, the iPhone(no TM) is nothing more than iCandy. It is not going to replace other smartphones. And, the way things are looking, it may cost Apple millions of dollars to get out from under the onus of having trampled over somebody else's (CiscoSystems') registered trademark, along with the bad publicity that this particular situation has already generated.

        I see a very rocky future for the iPhone(no TM)...
        M.R. Kennedy
        • iTunes

          While I haven't read the article about upgrading the Q, I don't think those issues will be relevant since the iPhone syncs with iTunes.

          I don't know about you, but upgrading my ipod has never been complicated. I would expect nothing less with upgrading the iPhone.

          What people fail to realize about what Apple is doing here is that it has nothing to do with whether the product is or isn't "better". What matters is the marketing and the integration.

          There are countless other mp3 players that do more, better, faster, cheaper, but no one's buying them. If Apple can take all of the functionality of a Blackberry and move it from the hands of traveling salesmen into the hands of every college kid with a myspace account then it opens up entire new markets to vendors at every step of the market.

          Apple didn't invent USB, but my eliminating all other ports but USB on the iMac it forced peripheral manufacturers to make more USB products.

          Apple didn't invent Wifi, but the Airport was simply easier than what was previously available.

          Apple doesn't always make the best product, but if it's good enough, and fun and easy to use, then people will use it.
          mjc@...
      • There were similar comments

        about Zune when it came out too.
        wcb42ad
      • Too easily impressed

        I'm from the UK and as such we've seen it all before when it comes to the iPhone, most of its features besides the OS can be found on phones here for less than ?100.

        Also I'm not sure why people think Microsoft are Apples competition to the iPhone, Microsofts share of the Smartphone market is mediocre at best, Symbian is by far the dominant player here, at year end 2005 it had a 51% market share.

        Iphone may sell well in the States where they've come to expect less from a mobile experience, but in the rest of the world they'll struggle to make any great impact on the handset manufacturers who already dominate.

        If you want a true Smartphone with features that would make iPhone cry into its milk then Nokia's N95 springs to mind, iPhone is fine for use on backward mobile networks and for people requiring the basic minimum in some areas, for the rest of the world outside of America buy a Nokia N95 its made by a company with a pedegree and a rightfull market dominance gained from making quality products, and best of all its made to work with far superior European mobile networks.
        Skullet
    • What phenominal ignorance!

      WOW!
      The brightness of your stupidity is blinding!
      Reverend MacFellow
      • You Are No Doubt...

        ...referring to Gardner's column. But then, observing your username, maybe not. If you are referring to vpi's post, then look who is calling who stupid. If not, disregard.
        Mr_Wizard
        • No, he was obviously referring to vbp1's post.

          As it appears to be as misinformed and biased as yours.

          >>> But then, observing your username, maybe not.>>>

          and

          >>> I wouldn't let an Apple computer in my house either. >>>

          I wouldn't go criticizing someones preference and/or opinion (thru user name) when you made the close-minded, obviously biased statement above.

          It's your possible loss (and disservice to your family) if you refuse to even acknowledge or consider different options.

          Maybe you should try reading from another (previously) pro-Windows, Mac-basher...

          http://www.eetimes.com/showArticle.jhtml;jsessionid=IH5IXHZR31EAIQSNDLPCKHSCJUNN2JVN?articleID=196801439

          Then I suggest relieving all that pent up anti-Apple/Mac anger by taking a Wiz with your Zune (MS or Quebecois version, doesn't much matter) :-)

          ...
          MacCanuck
          • Wow.

            Why do all the Mac people hate someone based soley on the fact that they prefer not to purchase an Apple product?
            John Zern
          • Yes, WOW

            Please show me where I said I "hated" the poster.

            Expressing opinion or pointing out what you believe are mistakes (in information) are hardly expressing hatred.

            Now some of your posts on the other hand :-)

            ...
            MacCanuck
          • Take no notice of the Wizard

            He has installed way too many applications in WINDOZE
            via the trusty (50% of the time) WIZARD.
            johnpall@...
    • um... yeah.

      it's not a phone, it's a "phone capable iPod." that's the point. change the emphasis to internet/media/computing, and relegate the phone to a necessary side tool, and there will be no pain at all in eventually switching to VoIP.
      me111111
    • iPhone is Solid

      I must disagree. The iPhone finally frees our user community up to eventually select (via the unlocking capabilities being introduced as we speak)their Cell Carrier, if they need one and free them up from the Walled Gardens-Pay per minute craziness.
      Even more important that that is the potential (if Apple allows it) for 3rd party software developers to go crazy with this open platform-The prospects are breath taking.
      Wireless Broadband (operating over IP) rules and the new muni WiFi Mesh Networks and WiMAX mobile systems will allow these new devices to dominate this space.
      You need to re-read this article from Dana, he touches on some serious issues here and needs to be listened too.

      Jacomo
      jim.aimone@...
      • iPhone will be closed to developers

        John Markoff, NY Times' tech reporter wrote

        -- http://tinyurl.com/ydwzlv --

        Moreover, Mr. Jobs also appears to be restricting the potential for third-party software developers to write applications for the new handset ? from ringtones to word processors. [...]

        ?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.? [...]

        ?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.?

        -- end NY Times excerpt --

        By the way, you can update Nokia phones using Nokia Software Updater and a USB cable to your PC. Free.
        fad1956@...
  • How dare you have a thought.

    How dare you be different from 99.9% of all other articles and stories on the web on this topic today. You are ruining my nice, orderly Google search which gives me 1000 hits on the same 2 paragraphs from 1000 different information sources.

    This is the first article I have read from you and, frankly, I can't see me reading any more if they all involve using my brain.
    courtfool
    • Thanks

      I take that as a compliment, sir.
      Dana Gardner
  • Zune Phone

    MS has already responded:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WRLRjKCGHek
    tic swayback
    • .. we are working on something too ....

      "...we can't tell you what it is, when it will come, what it will cost, how it will work, etc....
      But it will absolutely blow all of the Apple stuff away, just like the Zune is soooo much better than the iPod!
      Don't buy any of this evil apple stuff, wait for us yah hear!"
      - Microsoft
      Reverend MacFellow