So less than a week after I start my hip and trendy BlackBerry blog, Apple introduces the iPhone. Everything about the iPhone is interesting, to the point where you have to wonder why someone else didn't come up with at least some of this stuff. Even the name is interesting. Apparently Cisco trademarked the iPhone name a while back and there were 11th hour negotiations going on between the companies' lawyers to allow Apple to use the name. Either that, or Jobs just figured he'd deal with it later ??? which seems unlikely. So given my extensive expertise on such matters, here's my thoughts on the thing. The one button format, along with the touch screen is the sort of thing you'd expect from Apple. It's cool, well thought out and seems largely functional. About the only thing I'm even slightly worried about is whether the touch panel QWERTY keyboard is as functional as the fix button keyboard on my BlackBerry. Typing on a BlackBerry is no exercise in ergonomic delight, I'll be eager to see if the iPhone is any better.
On the face of it, I have to say, the iPhone seems to answer most every problem I've had with handhelds. I'm not all that interested in a camera, but I'll certainly take one. If I'm going to have an iPod, I'd sure like it to do more than just play music and videos. Essentially, I want one thing in my pocket, and the more it can do, the happier I'll be. The Europeans have been ahead of us in this regard. Symbian devices are much closer than anything else we've seen in the US. So much so that in Europe, smart phones are about as ubiquitous as laptops are here. And I certainly wouldn't mind heading out for business meetings without the laptop in tow. Perhaps this assault on the Laptop is exactly what Apple has in mind?
But of course there's a lot to be learned about the iPhone. It's safe to assume that as an iPod it's as good as or better than the Nano ??? after all, it does wide screen video. But is it a good phone? How does the camera do in low light - safe to assume there's no flash. The IMAP and POP integration is certainly fine for most consumers, and would be fine for me too, since I've avoided my company's Lotus Notes system. But will it generally (and does Apple intend it to) address the needs of business users? Certainly if you've gone to web based calendaring and use IMAP as your client email protocol, all is hopeful. But it's a small fraction of businesses who've done that. Then there's the matter of managing the thing. If the corporate users lose the phone, can it be remotely wiped clean? Could be a lot of sensitive data on 4GB iPhone.
Having said all that, I want one. The candy bar format beats the pants off the waffle-iron format of my BlackBerry. And the fact that the Blackberry can sense when it is in its holster lets you know that no one with any fashion sense was consulted about its design. A week ago, the Pearl seemed like an interesting solution. Today it just seems silly. Chalk one up for Mr. Jobs.Art Wittmann is a former editor for InformationWeek. View Full Bio