Well, it's official. Apple has finally become Microsoft. With all the noise about Apple's market cap over the past few weeks, what most of us failed to consider (until yesterday) was what truly differentiated Apple from Microsoft: the demo.
Steve Jobs has always been a demo god. His ability to hold an audience is legendary. His timing is flawless. His uniform of black turtleneck and jeans is iconic.
Oh, and one more thing... wireless sucks!
Microsoft's demos are supposed to crash, not Apple's. Say what you will about those kids in Cupertino, they've always had rock-solid demos.
But even Apple's near-flawless demo prep can't hold up to the load of a crowded convention center. As my friend and colleague, the very wise Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols described it in Help! I'm out of bandwidth and I can't get my demo up! the problem isn't just the Apple demo. It's that the wireless infrastructure in the United States is inferior -- and we're just seeing the tip of the iceberg.
Some regions are talking about replacing wireless phone networks with variants of WiFi. But as Jobs so frustratingly demonstrated, WiFi is vulnerable to overload. So, if you're one of only a few going online, you're fine. But if you're in a crowd, you're scrod. Sjvn is right when he says it isn't just a WiFi problem. He says:
The root cause of all of our bandwidth woes is a lack of infrastructure.
Apple announced all sorts of video capabilities on the iPhone 4. If you think AT&T couldn't keep up before, wait until this sexy, new, surprisingly low-priced phone gets into real use. AT&T's network is simply going to melt down.
And what of our broadband infrastructure? According to Speedtest's Net Index, the United States comes in 26th in terms of broadband speed.
Let me put this in perspective. The Greatest Country in the World has broadband speeds slower than Latvia, the Republic of Moldova, Lithuania, Romania, Bulgaria, Andorra, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Slovakia, and even Estonia.
How can that be? Andorra, a country a smaller population than my home of Palm Bay here in Florida, has better bandwidth speeds than the United States. There's something wrong about that. If I were Glenn Beck, it'd make me cry.
So, go ahead and buy your new iPhone 4. You know you're going to do it. But don't use it, or, well, you might break the network.
Can you hear me now?