Wednesday, September 5, 2007
More than meets the eye
Apple's announcement(s) today of the iTouch/iPhone and wireless iTunes store has some far reaching ramifications for the future of computing as we know it. As I said in my previous post, Apple would announce innovation, not imitation, and we got more than we fully realize.
First - The iTouch. Ok, the name sucks, but once we get past that what we have is essentially an iPhone without the phone. No biggie. What we really have is a handheld OSX based computer that doesn't suffer from the restrictions of the AT&T/Apple contract. Why bring in AT&T to this? Just because the iTouch isn't a "phone" doesn't mean its not a phone. Sure you don't have a 2G radio to access AT&T glorious network to place a voice call and get crappy data services, but you DO have a 802.11x network that can do a heck of a lot more than just surf the web and access the wireless iTunes store. Get it? And while Steve made no mention of it running OSX - he didn't say the AppleTV could run it either. UPDATE - Yes I know it has no mic - but some marketing shots had a bluetooth logo in the upper right of the display. If there's no bluetooth then VOIP is toast unless you could do some sort of freaky aftermarket accessory that uses the dock connector for sound in/out.
Second - The price drop. The Apple fanboys are all agog with the price drop with the iPhone. They're pissed about the $200 and making motions to call the FTC, etc. to cry their little hearts out. Hey guys - get over it. You PAID to be an early adopter. The only difference is that the time it has taken for a price drop to go into effect is a heck of a lot shorter than with previous products. (UPDATE - Apple is giving these early adopters a $100 Apple gift certificate. ) The REAL importance here is that the price drop does two things. 1) The iPhone now has access to a larger market and 2) the price drop creates room for the next product to be announced by Steve at MacWorld in Janaury. (go through my archived posts for more about this). Remember - this "one more thing" product probably is NOT governed by the five year AT&T deal. This deal bothered me for a long time - seriously, a FIVE YEAR DEAL? I couldn't fathom why Steve would agree to that until I realized that he's not concerned about it because its just the beginning of the future. Not the future itself. Steve doesn't give up the high ground and he didn't with the AT&T deal.
Third - The wireless itunes store makes iPhone's and iTouch units able to function WITHOUT being tied to a master computer. Sure there are still some issues with setting up your iPhone with iTunes, but what we're seeing is a clear departure from these units being tethered to your desktop or laptop to function. This is important.
Fourth - I consider the Starbucks announcement to be purely an experiment. Its a social and psychological experiment into how your interact with entertainment and how to deal with the physical and networked world. There was no mention of TMobile because when your iTouch or iPhone interacts with the hotspot at Starbucks, you will NOT be on a TMobile hotspot. Well, I don't think you will be. I could be wrong here, but I think that the rollout slowness was due to Apple and Starbucks having to built out new wireless access points at Starbucks locations that are essentially a VPN network to Apple's various data centers. This isn't about internet access, this is about iTunes access. They're starting with music, but its not going to stop there.
Fifth - Steve's reference to 1/3 of all music this year being released ONLY in a digital format was very important. It was a DIRECT message to the music industry. Actually, it was a warning and a threat, all in one. And those music cronies STILL don't get it. Oh well.
Ok - that's all I'm going to post for now. I gotta run and catch a flight to LAX.
(the image is from Engadget.com. Check them out. Their coverage of the announcement was most excellent)
UPDATE - Yes, I KNOW its not called the iTouch. ;-p