Friday, November 17, 2006


What iPhone has going for it

  • Friday, November 17, 2006
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  • iPhone concept #8,490Yesterday I took a shot at the iPhone for being long on compromises and short on utility and your comments were tremendous. Today I want to take a look at some of the positive aspects and potential of the iPhone.

    No carrier baggage
    One of the single best potential features of the iPhone is that won't be tied to a specific mobile phone carrier. One of the commenters yesterday said it best:

    Even the best and most popular phones on the US market are always a political compromise between makers and carriers. Everyone pulls in their direction; carriers want features that will squeeze more money (sending pictures and videos; text messaging, etc); makers want more and more features, so that they can charge more. Ordinary users are ignored.

    Locked phones are heavily subsidized by the carrier so that they can be sold for almost nothing - with a two year contract and significant early termination fee. The best part of a carrier-free (also called "unlocked") mobile phone is that Apple doesn't have to cripple its features because the greedy carriers want to charge for every picture, text and ring tone.

    A perfect example of this is how Verizon Wireless forces handset manufacturers to disable all but the Bluetooth headset profile. Another example of carrier compromise is the Motorola ROKR's artificial 100 song limitation and inability to purchase and download tracks from iTunes Over The Air (OTA). Hopefully Apple's carrier divorce will mean that the iPhone has features that users want, like BT syncing.

    Battle of the bands
    Another iPhone issue that came up in the comments is how many GSM bands (if any) it will support and whether or not it and will ship with Cingular 3G from the get go. I agree with the commenter, I would like to see it ship as a quad band phone and not have different phones for different countries.

    Button-less modular design
    It looks like Apple could take an interesting approach to the iPhone's form factor. A new patent filing hints that Apple may allow a button-less touchscreen iPod to transform into a phone by simply adding a sleeve of sorts. Seems like a bit of a reach to me, but potentially promising at the same time.

    Apple has just filed a new patent application for the adding of physical controls (like buttons or slides etc) to the touch sensitive surfaces of electronic devices. Apple seems to propose that you take a ‘blank’ iPod and add a wheel for a standard iPod, add a keypad to make it a phone - add a joystick to make it a game machine

    Battery partitioning
    The other great suggestion from the comments under my story yesterday was for a way to partition the battery so that there would be a dedicated amount of capacity reserved just for phone functions. Ever whip out your iPod at the gym only to discovered that it's completely dead? While definitely not ideal, it's not the end of the world either. However if your wife's blows out a tire on a dark and snowy night, it could be a serious safety issue if her iPhone was dead because she was jamming to a little too much Mariah and Brit - or even worse if she forgot to enable the hold switch.

    Wish list
    While I'm at it, Apple should go with a light version of Mac OS X for the iPhone. Can you imagine the potential of having light versions of iTunes, Address Book, Mail, iPhoto and Acrobat on your phone? I think that it would be tremendous. Apple should take a page out of Microsoft's Windows Mobile playbook and even offer light versions of iWork so that iPhone could open Word and Excel attachments too.

    What's on your iPhone wish list?

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