Among consumers, the excitement around today's launch of Apple Inc.'s iPhone centers on its cool looks and innovative interface.
In the cell phone industry, the iPhone will be closely watched because it breaks several conventions governing the relationships between handset manufacturers, carriers and consumers. If successful, Apple could end up changing the way phones and the industry work.
The iPhone can handle phone calls, e-mail, Web browsing, music and videos. There are already cell phones that do those things. What's unusual is that on the iPhone, Apple software is behind all those functions.
The music and video store will be Apple's iTunes, rather than a proprietary music store run by the carrier. The Web browser is a version of Apple's Safari browser. With the iPhone's relatively large 3.5-inch screen, the gadget will give relatively easy access to the Web at large, unlike the Web snippets, chosen by the carrier, that are available on most other phones.
In another example, Apple has said that about 10,000 videos from Google Inc.'s YouTube will be available on the iPhone at launch, and the rest this fall, the AP reports.
Early reviews have highlighted the large touch-sensitive screen and the full-blown Web browser, while expressing concern over the quality of AT&T's network, the Apple phone's virtual keyboard and lack of features such as picture messaging.
The iPhone is already making itself felt in the industry before even a single unit is sold.
Rival Palm Inc. said it could post a small loss and lower revenue this quarter due to slow sales and fears that the iPhone could hurt demand for its Treo smartphones.
"It's likely that as people try (the iPhone) out, there may be some stall in our sell-through," Palm Chief Executive Ed Colligan told Reuters on Thursday.
Apple looks set to sell lots of phones when the device hits shelves at 6:00 p.m. in each U.S. time zone on Friday.
"We're building a fair number of them, but we may not (meet demand)," Jobs told the Wall Street Journal in an interview. "We've taken our best guess, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if it ain't enough."
What's less clear is whether sales will hold up once the initial burst of excitement has waned.
Apple's shares have risen 30 percent since Jobs unveiled the phone in January, though the stock has fallen 2.5 percent over the past five days.
Jobs has targeted sales of 10 million units in 2008, which would give Apple a 1 percent share of the global market and at least $5 billion in revenue that will be recorded in quarterly increments over two years, Reuters reports.
Discussion over the iPhone may be frenetic in some tech happy circles, but there are just as many people that either have no idea the phone is coming out — or could really care less. For those people trying to understand the hype behind the phone, here’s the scoop:
- It will cost you. The iPhone runs $499 for the 4GB model and $599 for the 8GB.
- AT&T is your only option. The iPhone will only be provided through the new AT&T Mobility (formerly Cingular and AT&T) and can only be purchased with the minimum of a two year plan through AT&T. All plans include unlimited data and visual voicemail.
- The phone does just about everything. Pictures, music, videos, text messaging, email and Web surfing will all have their places in the sleek new phone. Sync your iTunes library with the phonor enjoy watching videos on the beautiful screen display. YouTube is even in the process of converting its entire video library to be accessible by the iPhone. One drawback: you can’t wirelessly access your music.
- It is stylish, sleek and smooth. What the iPod’s layout did for MP3 players, the iPhone is trying to do for mobile technology. The phone is one giant touch screen, manipulated by the user’s fingertips. While this allows more viewing area for the screen, it also has created some problems for large fingered individuals trying to type onto the virtual keyboard appearing on screen, Meridian Star reports.
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