At this year's dconstruct conference Peter Merholz explained how just packing more features is not a good way of evolving a design and how the iPod and Wii are examples of that. Not the most technically advanced or feature packed compared to rivals but got the user experience part right and is a success as a result. ( here his lecture in the dconstruct podcast here)
The idea of not feature stuffing a phone seemed to be a great idea then. Especially when you consider 80% of people only use 20% of the features of their phones. However, at the price point Apple have launched with you would have to say the that it likely only the 20% elite/pro users that would pony up the record-breakingly expensive fee and contract combination.(see prices here)
Surely early figures will show great sales but hype and a shiny interface will only get you so far. Users that had basic handsets before will love the iPhone as it does the basics incredibly well. But if you have a top-end pocket-PC or symbian phone you'll be hugely under-whelmed and may see you're upgrade as a bit of a downgrade.
I've been using the iPhone since it launch in the UK a few days ago and the novelty has already begun to where off and I sorely miss my XDA exec. It's not just the big features like video calling, 3G Internet, and picture messaging - it's even little things like being able to select text/numbers on a webpage and paste them into a word doc/email or being able to delete music/video/app without a computer. Also the camera seems to be such an after thought. The quality is so low - not just resolution but sharpness too. There are also no settings to adjust, or support for recording video.
These issues may cause iPhone sales in europe to reach critical mass sooner than Apple may have planned for. Once the mac fans that would buy a brick with the apple logo on and then those that are caught up in the hype/fashion statement of owning one have all purchased the price will have to drop to sub £50 for the real target audience - the 80% that like to use the basics - will start to lap it up. By then I am sure the novelty will have worn off for the serious phone users that like their features and so many will be looking to get out and buy a more feature rich phone. Perhaps by then the Apple iPhone 2 will be out - but will it be too late. Will the pro users be once bitten twice shy? Will Google Andriod be a serious rival by then? Will the next generation of windows mobile have surpassed the iPhone interface?
With all these questions hanging over the iPhone I wouldn't put money on the long term success of Apple in the mobile market as readily as some who seem to think they will take it by storm like the iPod has with the portable music industry.
The current kings of mobiles remain symbian and windows mobile based smartphones - watch out for the new 8GB Nokia N95 (black) and the XDA Exec if O2 still let you buy them now that they do the iPhone.