Tom Evslin says Apple Fails to Reinvent Telecommunications Industry:
Steve Jobs claims that iPhone will “reinvent” the telecommunications sector. Wish it were so but it ain’t!
The design of the phone – no hard buttons, all touch on screen, sounds like everything we expect from Steve and from Apple: it’s all about the GUI and that part’ll be fun. But the business relationship is as old school as it can get: exclusive US distributorship through Cingular
Short term this is a good tactic for Apple because it protects the iPod franchise for a while. Long term I think it’s terrible strategy. It invites an endrun from someone who IS willing to reinvent the industry or simply allies themselves with a Cingular competitor.
Remember how wonderful the Mac GUI was? But it only ran on machines from Apple. Remember how crappy Windows was at first? But it ran on machines from everyone and their brother. And now there’s Linux – even less restricted – running on anything that moves. Tell me again why it makes sense to have a phone that runs only on a service from at&t (in the US).
It looks like the FIC Neo1973, showing at CES, due to ship this quarter for US$350, running the OpenMoko platform (presentation), will be more in the right direction — unlocked and open for developers. Andy on the openmoko list has a very early comparison.
The Neo1973’s big missing feature, at least initially, is apparently Wi-Fi, due to a lack of open drivers. As a late adopter of gadgets, I can wait. I acquired my first and only mobile phone in 2003, and it’s easy on the eyes.
That said, I’d really like Portable online by 2010 to be true:
This claim is judged YES if and only if, by January 1, 2010, in any state with more than 5 million inhabitants, at least 25% of the adult population are “portably online”. A “state” can be a country or a member state in a federation.
Read more for how “portably online” is defined (the contract was written in 1995). My current guess (and the market’s; last trade at 30) is that without a more significant smartphone revolution than we’re seeing the criteria won’t be met before 2010, but not terribly long after.