Is the iPhone all hype?

Chris Kenton suggests that iPhone is all hyped up. His Treo can do everything the iPhone can:

“But what does the iPhone bring to mobile phones? Everything the iPhone does, I can already do on my Treo. Sure, the UI looks streamlined and the package is pure Apple sex, but the mobile phone industry isn’t exactly lacking in revolutionary spark–a hot new design from Motorola, Samsung or Nokia comes out, what, every Tuesday? The iPhone won’t even be available until June.”

In the BlogHaus we streamed in the Steve Jobs keynote (yes we’re not just about CES as some folks are complaining) and some compared Apple to a cult with a slick Telemarketing sales guy.

On the other hand, Scoble said he wants one, and Teresa too.

Update: The buzz from this not yet released product hit Digg. People are bidding for a product that does not yet exist. $1550 and up, it appears eBay has removed this faux auction.

  • I can’t even imagine how much apple invests in UI design. The iPod wasn’t the first to market. Yes it was small, but you didn’t need to read the instructions to operate it–that’s what set it apart.

    I have a so called ‘smart phone’, but there are still so many tasks that I need to do that cannot be easily gotten done immediately. I can’t add a call from my missed call list to my contact list and give it a name, for example.

    Apple UI lets you forget what you already learned how to do–you don’t need to remember it anymore. Wasn’t technology supposed to make our live’s easier?

    On the negative side, I just hope that, unlike the iPod, you don’t have to throw it away when the internal battery dies (or pay someone else to replace it). If it will play avi, most mpegs, divx, that will be pretty sweet. Now if you could just post video to youtube instantly with a single button after stopping recording.

  • How does Cisco’s lawsuit against Apple for copyright infringement (Cisco owns the iPhone name) affect what you think about the phone? Anything?

    Or would an iPhone by any other name be as cool?

    News story:

  • I haven’t read Chris Kenton’s full article, but I want to comment on part of what you quoted, Jeremiah:

    “Sure, the UI looks streamlined…”

    He says that and discards it as if it hardly matters. My question: Does anything else matter? The iPod didn’t win because it had the best feature set, it won because it has the best UI. The tech geeks have held on to their Zens and iRivers, but the public has voted overwhelmingly for UI over feature bloat. Why should anything change between now and June?

  • “some compared Apple to a cult with a slick Telemarketing sales guy.”

    No, I actually look at this as Apple creating products that are visually pleasing. If I could, I would recommend a book called “A Whole New Mind”, by Dan Pink. The book covers some very “left-brained” concepts..

    Why Apple is doing well:
    1. The products are cool.
    2. The products are hip.
    3. The products look great.
    4. Apple tries to make things as intuitive as possible.

    Note: I don’t own an Apple computer. I have an Ipod, however, and I’ve given away about 5 as gifts.

    Having great features, or at least too many features, can actually lead to decreased satisfaction with said product(s). Apple does a good job of trying to figure out what people need….but I think they could do better with community feedback.

  • Brian. I’m not sure of the impacts. to me, it’s silly. Apple will have to pay Cisco what ever they want, they accounted for this I’m sure.

    Damon, in my opinion, Apple is a Marketing company that happens to be in the Technology industry.

  • Which is a valid point, Apple is a marketing company which happens to be in the technology industry.

    For all the iPhone’s faults, lack of 3G (More down to the fact that they’d have to promote the carriers WMA and RealPlayer based music and video services when Apple probably wants them to offer the iTunes Music Store I’d expect), it’s lock out of third party app developers, non user replicable battery and so on, it will force a radical rethinking of how smartphones should be presented to the public.

    Just like the Bondai Blue iMac, and the first gen iPod did with Computers and Digital Audio Players.

    I bought my Nokia N80 as it did a whole lot more than a Treo, with it’s ancient OS, ever could. But it’s clunky to use for email and web browsing even though I have 3G and WiFi access speeds.

  • First of all, I agree with Chris wholeheartedly. The featureset presented in the iPhone is absolutely nothing new.

    That being said, I learned a little something from my time working in an Apple sweatshop.

    To wit – nothing Apple does is particularly original. However, they package it and market it better than almost anyone else.

    Need an example? How about, most recently, the iPod. There were lots of MP3 players out there that did everything the iPod did more flexibly (not tied to iTunes) and more reliably (no battery wearing out after 18 months issues).

    However, they were all marketed to geeks and gadget people. Apple spend major money on marketing portable (and easy!) music to everyone.

    So, while I think the iPhone is a waste of money, it’ll probably sell really well.


  • Mark

    I’d rather be with a bunch of Mac-users than PC-users.

    In your face!

  • Hi Jeremiah,

    I think it would be very easy to state that Apple is both a technology company and a marketing company. You could have the best product(s) in the world – but it isn’t going to do any good if people don’t know about them via marketing (buzz or traditional).

  • Yulia

    I agree with Damon on this topic. Though, most of the audience is technical here. But it does not hurt to hear from the masses that add up to the sales .

    Apple has 2 core strengths: great design (=product) and great marketing. Give me an example of any other company that can be close to Apple? It appears that it is the only company who has more ads that consumers create or parody than any other. I am not a Mac person either, but I love my Ipod. And I would get an Iphone, just because of the “intangible” LOVE factor that Apple is using so skillsfully. People like mysteries and cults, and they would PAY for that as long as Apple keeps delighting them 😉

  • Brian: They could call it the \”PoopPhon\” and I\\\’d still want one.

    Jeremiah probably thinks I\’m a Macsturbator, and it\’s true that I do love this. I\’m willing to admit that the iPhone is nothing new. But it\’s not so much about the what as the how.

    Apple provides seamless integration and ease of use better than any other company. The revolutionary thing about this phone isn\’t about what it will allow you to do, it\’s about a user interface that allows you to do it with a smile on your face and a minimum of stress.

    I understand why you would say that Apple is a marketing company that happens to be in technology, but I disagree in part. Yes, Apple understands what people want better than any other company. It gets packaging and it certainly understands marketing.

    But Apple doesn\’t just use its understanding of human beings to market products. That understanding informs the design. If anything, Apple Computer (or should I say Apple, Inc.) is king in the world of user interfaces. They understand how humans want to interact with technology and then design an interface around it rather than telling people how they should interact with technology.

    If that\’s good marketing, great for them. But it\’s more than good marketing, it\’s the future of technology.

  • oh lord. I messed up on the close strong tag…

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  • Teresa, I fixed the tag. no worries.

  • Mark

    Why’s everyone putting things in my face lately? sheesh.

  • Yulia

    I really see Apple and Google in very similar categories.

    Would it be possible to put great design into the Marketing category? Isn’t the job of Marketing to help provide product requirements to engineering?

  • Yulia

    Jeremiah, I would agree with that. Translating or interpreting user demands into the design is something marketers should do. Traditionally, Product managers are the people doing it. Marketers are usually the post-design folks, translating the desingned item into the product customers would want to purchase. This is just my personal opinion and observation. Apple reinforces the role of marketers in its culture and ties them together with designers. Thus, they have a powerful team that gets the customer and designs cool products. In general, most tech companies in my experience are ruled by engineers, and this is ok, but what it comes out to is tech-oriented production only, which is not enough in technology saturated economy.

  • I can’t help but think that this sounds like the reaction that the iPod got when it first came out back in 2001. There were many other mp3 players already on the market (e.g. the Nomad Jukebox) and many people thought that the iPod offered nothing unique.

    Sample comment back then:
    “This isn’t unique, just a nice MP3 player with the ‘Apple Touch’.”

  • Just for the record, I wasn’t saying “Oh, Pish!” (yes, people really say that) to the iPhone. I was just saying that I wouldn’t count it out just because it isn’t anything unique.

    Latest Apple “Innovations”:
    1) An MP3 Player
    2) A Linux/Unix-based OS
    3) Intel-based computers

    Latest Apple Revenues (okay, before all of the options issues): Through the roof.

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  • I call time on people putting stuff in Jeremiah’s face. I started it, so I get to call it.

    No more… but Mark?

    IN YOUR FACE! Kidding. Just kidding.

    The iPhone is a VERY cool looking gadget. I don’t wanna judge it until I actually get to see one in operation, but I think it’s more than likely that there’s a market for it, just as BlackBerries have found their market and are used compulsively (despite a lack of iPod like passion for them)

    I think JO’s characterization of Apple as a marketing company that happens to be in tech isn’t out of line.

    And I think that what the gearheads forget is that if the best technology was what mattered, we would have had Betamax.

  • Ok Everyone: In YOUR Face.

    Thanks Bob, the betamax is a good example.

  • Roger Smith

    iPhone is available with Cingular ONLY!?
    And what if I am stuck under contract with a carrier OTHER
    than Cingular but still want a iPhone?
    Well, the only solution
    I could fine was
    they get you out of any cell phone contract!

  • Your article is very informative and the use of graphics adds to understanding the process. I think some of your sentences are too long, and a few minor commas are missing. One thing I was taught, never end a sentence with a preposition.

  • Very interesting post. I really enjoyed reading it.