The iPhone: Revolutionary, or Revolutionary Marketing?

iPhone is more than just a breakthrough mobile phone device. It is a strategy that may expand Apple’s sphere of influence, from web browsing to social networking and even possibly search. If iPhone users embrace the multi-touch interface for browsing the web, then WAP will become obsolete. If Safari on iPhone and Windows manages to win peoples hearts, then Apple might gain a position in the browser market – perhaps as strong as Firefox. Incidentally, for now this plays in Google’s favor, as Google is friendly with both Firefox and Apple. And if Apple starts building a social network around the iPhone, then MySpace and Facebook will have to start paying attention.

Read Why iPhone May Really Matter from the Read/Write Web

Most obviously, the iPhone is locked, as is de rigueur in the wireless world. It will work only with one carrier, AT&T. Judged by the standards of a personal computer or electronics, that’s odd: Imagine buying a Dell that worked only with Comcast Internet access or a VCR that worked only with NBC. Despite the fact that the iPhone costs $500 or so, it cannot yet be brought over to T-Mobile or Verizon or Sprint. AT&T sees this as a feature, not a bug, as every new iPhone customer must commit to a two-year, $1,400 to $2,400 contract.

If Apple wanted to be “revolutionary,” it would sell an unlocked version of the iPhone that, like a computer, you could bring to the carrier of your choice. An even more radical device would be the “X Phone”—a phone on permanent roam that chose whatever network was providing the best service. Imagine, for example, using your iPhone to talk on Sprint because it had the best voice coverage in Alaska, while at the same time using Verizon’s 3G network for Internet access. Of course, getting that phone to market would be difficult, and Apple hasn’t tried.

Read iPhony from Slate

On topic: Why the iPhone wound up invented here, from C|Net

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1 Comment

Filed under Business 2.0, Media Evolution, Networks, Social Media, Tools, Usability, web 2.0

One response to “The iPhone: Revolutionary, or Revolutionary Marketing?

  1. Ellen Rigsby

    I do wonder whether “locking” the iPhone to ATT isn’t a back way to undermining net neutrality. If, as you say, the iPhone device becomes a mode of networking, then the concept of net neutral is already compromised: when the “way in” changes the content of the experience, then the net isn’t neutral.

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