December 18, 2006
Apple Phones, iPhones and Skype.
The iPhone was released today. There has been hype for years about Apple releasing an iPod phone, but today was not the day fanatics have been waiting for....they'll have to continue to wait. Having worked in the cell phone industry on the provider side for years, I know there is some demand, but maybe not as much as the Apple people think or even the tech pundits think. Most of my audience doesn't read the same things I read on the internets, so I'll give a little background. The recent recent and loudest news on the iPhone was out of two sources. Kevin Rose of Digg (with all new features) leaked (warning: adult language) some information on an episode of Diggnation saying that it would have two batteries (one for the phone and one for the mp3 player), it would come in two varieties 4GB and 8GB (so we're talking a Nano), and that it would be available with all carriers. I know some folks in Alaska that wet themselves if they heard that. Most people in the know believe that the Apple phone will be announced and released in January at MacWorldExpo in January. The second source was a recent post on Gizmodo that much of the tech community immediately denounced. Why did they denounce the short cryptic blurb? They assumed iPhone meant Apple and they assumed that Apple would stick to its standard protocol for launching products. Well, it turns out iPhone was trademarked in the US by Linksys years ago and released a product today called the iPhone. The thing is I have more of an interest in getting an iPhone from Linksys than I do any phone from Apple. Especially now that Skype launched version 3. If you haven't jumped on the Skype bandwagon yet, you should give it a try; It could just change your life. Back to the Apple phone issue for just a bit. I read today that Apple will be opening their own MVNO when they launch their phone. This is probably the smartest thing they could do. Sure, ESPN mobile flopped, but they had a pretty narrow market. The issue is that just about everyone already has a cell phone and thus they have a carrier. With Apple having their own MVNO from Cingular it gives them the power of the Cingular network combined with the power of the Apple brand. The issues that I saw with using carriers to distribute your phone were that Apple likes to set the price of their products. Authorized dealers of iPods and Macs aren't allowed to set their own price. If you want to buy an iPod from Best Buy or from Apple, it's the same price. Cell phone carriers and third party dealers like to run campaigns based on lowering the price of the phone in order to encourage longer term of service. Who knows what the billing/plan service side of things would look like for Apple whether they continue to target the young kids by making a prepaid product or whether they play with the big boys and try the whole family plan mess and other traditional plans. I guess we'll just have to wait until January to find out we've all been wrong...even Kevin Rose.