weekly roundup It's cool, it's hip, it's sleek…and it's not in Asia. I'm talking about Apple's new mobile device iPhone, of course--walk past any water cooler this week and that's probably what you'll hear others talk about, too.
After keeping the rumor mills busy for months, the iPod maker finally raised the curtains on its much-anticipated mobile phone which analysts say may have etched a new category in the handset market with its "very high degree of differentiation".
Apple has also differentiated the device by putting Asia last on the list as the region in which the iPhone will be commercially available. While the mobile phone will make its debut in the United States in June, followed by Europe in the fourth quarter, Apple fans in Asia will have to wait until 2008 before the device makes its way here.
I am baffled by this decision, especially since Asia currently has some of the world's highest mobile penetration rates and houses some of the most savvy mobile users. In fact, Gartner stated that Asia-Pacific led the global mobile phone sales in the third quarter of 2006, accounting for 54.7 percent of sales--one in every two new mobiles worldwide was sold in this region.
It's perhaps hardly surprising that the company has chosen this route, when you think about how Apple's online music service iTunes is still not available across most of Asia, other than Japan and Australia.
Maybe it has concerns over illegal file-sharing problems and the hassle of getting copyright licenses from each country, but can Apple really afford to put Asia last if it's serious about becoming a major player in the mobile space?
It also remains to be seen if the iPhone, which runs on the Mac OS X platform but doesn't come with 3G support, will indeed ring in the cash registers, and whether Apple will be able to resolve its lawsuit with Cisco Systems.
In other news this week, Singapore's multimedia tech industry gets a boost while Dell Computer goes green. Also, find out what stones Microsoft has left unturned and what Motorola wants to strap onto bikes in future.