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Apple iPhone: Calamity for the Mac?


Despite my near-absolute conviction that it would never happen, Chairman Jobs dropped the i-Bomb today on a suspecting crowd. By all accounts, the patented jobsian Reality Distortion Field went all the way to eleven at MacWorld Expo this morning as the Steve introduced the new Apple iPhone. The iPhone is, without a doubt, the sexiest-sounding piece of hardware ever, period. As its proponents were hoping, it brings to a mobile phone typical Apple touches, like motion-sensing gestures and easy media management, and does so in a way that will have Apple fans and detractors alike buzzin about it for weeks to come. It looks like a big, big win for Apple, and a disruptive entry into the smart-phone market.

“But hey, little Rube, why the long face?” you might ask, should you see the frown I’m wearing at this moment. And it may seem strange, me being a Mac Fanboi and it being Apple’s day in the sun, that I would be in any kind of mood other than near-ecstasy. So, I’ll explain. Although I’m a big fan of the Mac, there’s nothing here that bodes well for that platform. The iPhone will almost certainly be a cross-platform device, which means a lot more Windows users are going to be using it than Mac users. And since I’m not really in the market for a portable phone, it’s nothing more to me than yet another cool iPod that I can’t afford. The iPhone comes at the expense of the Mac platform, not for its greater glory. In fact, it stole from the Macintosh platform its annual holy day, the MacWorld keynote.

Probably the biggest news for Mac users, which will remain almost completely overlooked, is that a commercially-available version of Mac OS X now exists for portable devices. Windows CE has been, up to now, the only really normal OS for handheld computers (not including the current iPod OS, which is most certainly the best-selling). But today, Apple showed they have a portable, flash-based version of OS X running on a hardware platform that includes wireless networking, bluetooth, and a brilliant touch-screen display to show it on. This makes the iPhone the best handheld PC on the market.

This bodes well for the iPod, of course. I don’t see Apple abandoning. the sub-$500 market completely, and now that they have the hardware and software platform for it, could 802.11-enabled, bluetooth-capable iPods finally become a reality?

What I would like to see happen now is a hard-disk based iPod successor, somewhere in the 30-60GB range, with the form-factor and OS X version of the iPhone, but without the mobile phone part of it. It would be the second coming of the Newton, at a time when nobody gives a second thought to plopping down 350 bucks for an Apple product that fits in their pocket.

Jobs’ demo today showed why Apple have made a lot of the decisions we’ve seen over the past year or so. First, they dropped the PortalPlayer iPod platform at the height of its popularity. Then, they made headlines all over the Web by securing enormous amounts of flash-memory around Asia, and everyone postulated flash-based MacBooks by year’s end. Then, it leaked out that Apple had patented resolution-independent user interface technology, presumably for large screens running OS X 10.5 Leopard. Who would’ve thought that they were actually thinking about high-density mobile displays running a tiny, tiny version of OS X?

While everyone was salivating over a phone today (a phone for gossake!), I was thinking just one thing: Cool! There’s a version of OS X that runs on StrongARM (or whatever’s in there), includes Safari and Cover Flow, and runs entirely from flash memory! I wonder what the boot-times are on one of those phones?


Windows CE
The Macintosh

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Today has been disappointing for me also as a Mac user. I'm desperately waiting for iWeb 2 as part of iLife 07 and there's still no sign of it. And little new info on Leopard.

But... I think we have to look at the big picture. iPods got people using apple hardware and iTunes got PC users using apple software. The iPhone will get them using OSX and once they've had a shot (provided Apple doesn't screw up) it will remove the final "fear" factor of buying a Mac desktop or laptop. There will be a pay-off in Mac sales in years to come. The iPod "halo" effect has been talked about for years - the iPhone is phase 2.


I'm just wondering how Apple is going to settle with Cisco. After all, Cisco has owned the IPhone name for the last 7 years or so. They'll be shelling out some big bucks, I guess.


Theory among Mac folks is that Cisco hasn't secured their trademark enough in the area of telephony; their iPhone is a VoIP product. Nevertheless, Jobs got what he wanted: The world knows his product as iPhone, even if it's called 'Apple Phone' or 'iPod Phone' or whatever it is when it comes out.

Apple beat the Beatles, despite Apple Corps Records' obvious trademark seniority. They'll probably beat Cisco, too.


It's a no lose situation for Apple because there are still several months before the iPhone goes on sale - very clever actually. Cisco sue Apple and if Apple lose they have to change the name. It's not like its going to go like these things usually end up with the losing party having to pay out a substantial sale of profits from the item - the iPhone has no sales yet so no profits, so nothing to risk (other than legal costs). If Apple win they get to use iPhone name, Apple lose and they are no worse off than before.


Hey, David

if you're an avid iWeb user, you might be interested in taking a look at <a href="" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Dashcode's Beta page</a>. Looks like Apple's put together a pretty cool WYSIWYG HTML editor there, with support for DHTML stuff.

Maybe some of that technology will find its way into iWeb 2.0.


Cheers for the Dashcode link - very interesting but a bit techie for me! I'm not even asking for much from iWeb 2.0 - just the ability to add a little raw HTML for meta tags, favicons etc without having to add it in another application/editor and a little better file/image sixe management would do me. Just hoping they don't keep us hanging on for too long, although I do like the suggestions that iLife could in future become part of Leopard.

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