iPhone


What’s the point of Java on the iPhone? Great question. I’d put the question about Flash in the same category. The category is: Things That Have a Comfortable Place on Traditional Computing Environment but Need to Be Re-Thought for the iPhone. For $400 please Alex.

Seriously, the “big” thing about the iPhone isn’t that it’s a small form factor desktop computer. It’s not a UMPC. It’s not meant to run everything that a desktop or server OS runs. It’s meant for a new breed of applications that are light, engaging and can effectively (and efficiently) use the cloud for additional processing, routing and storage. Unlike our current desktop environments, the iPhone isn’t about having as much local as possible.

Java on the iPhone is a party that not many people care about attending.

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Call me stupid, but I don’t quite get the rationale for needing a Twitter client on the iPhone. I have a Twitter account, but hardly use it and generally don’t have time to track the Twitterings of others, but from my limited usage it does seem that Twitter works because of the desktop OS-based application multi-tasking paradigm that we’re all used to. Twitter provides glanceable and easily interpreted information because it can sit off to the side in a browser window, an RSS feed or a custom desktop app like Twitterific. But the iPhone, while allowing applications to multitask, doesn’t allow the UI to multitask. You’re in Mail or your not. You’re using Safari or you’re not. There’s no concept of windows, so have to continually open an iPhone Twitter app to check status seems, well, useless to me. Perhaps if the clients were focused merely on setting status, that would have some value, but then the Twitter interaction becomes pretty one-sided.

What am I missing here?

Ouch. I was an iPhone early adopter and paid dearly for it. You never, ever could foresee Apple cutting the price on an existing device; that’s aberrant behavior from them. It is however, a throwdown to the other players in the smartphone category. Apple wants the category as badly as what used to be called MP3 players or digital audio players — they’re now just called iPods.

Expanding the multitouch-enabled product portfolio is a key strategic move for Apple. Multitouch is a new user experience paradigm and a huge differentiator for Apple in the market. It’s no coincidence that Steve Jobs very clearly stated that they patented the heck out of it when rolling out the iPhone last January.

I was thrilled that the new enhancements will be available on the iPhone. I can’t say that I’ll use the WiFi iTunes Music Store that much, but one never knows. I do hope that the software update brings the iPhone and iPod touch UIs closer together. Did anyone else notice that the Calculator icon has changed?

Once again, another Apple event that will leave their competitors scrambling and all of the existing Zune owners figuring out how they can unload that thing for an iPod.

As usual, there’s a tremendous amount of speculation about tomorrow’s Apple Event stoked by the invitation and rumors about the next generation of iPods. I find it interesting that most are focused on new iPod hardware and really aren’t thinking about the impact to the new iPod hardware Apple released in June: the iPhone.

Steve Jobs has gone on record saying that the iPhone “is the best iPod we’ve ever made.” It would stand to reason that whatever new capabilities are released tomorrow, they’ll not only manifest themselves inside of new iPod hardware, but they extend to the iPhone as well. Logic would dictate that Apple would seek to reduce its production costs by aligning the iPhone and iPod platforms at many levels: software, components, manufacturing, etc.

I hope the new devices aren’t an iPhone without a phone; they should be unique physically as there’s still tremendous upside to keeping the iPhone and the iPod similar but distinct. The iPod is an established platform with a vibrant ecosystem of 3rd-party accessories, whereas the iPhone is a new platform with unclear iPod ecosystem impact.

If Apple does release iPods with new software capabilities that cannot be leveraged on existing iPhones, they’ll have some serious explaining to do. After I just shelled out $599 for the “best iPod we’ve ever made,” and one that’s based on an architecture that lends itself to a level of dynamism not seen in previous iPod platforms, I better see an iPhone update sitting in iTunes this week.

Michael Gartenberg, covering the availability of iPhone refurbs, points out:

One of the interesting things about Apple is how every detail, every word is parsed and analyzed for nuance and meaning. So it’s no surprise that when Apple posted that re-furbished iPhone’s could be has on their site for $100 less, it sent some folks into a tizzy about the state of the iPhone market.

Rubbish. Just about every major vendor, Apple (which sells iPods, Macs and Apple TV re-furbs as well) included sells re-furbs. Nothing new or surprising and it says nothing about the state of the market. It does say some units break and need to be replaced, some just get returned for whatever reason. Those units get re-furbished and are sold back into the channel. The numbers of re-furbished units is likely low but no one sits or tosses that inventory. It’s a common industry practice.

Name me another cell vendor that offers refurbs of their units. Is there a market for refurbed Nokias or Motorolas? One would say “no” because the price points are lower than the iPhone, but it’s still an interesting phenomenon.

A killer next-generation feature for the iPhone would be an always-active service establishing your contacts presence status. I’m envisioning something like the iChat buddy list or Mail’s indication of presence. Granted, it’s based on a different modality, instant messaging, but being able to quickly see if a contact on my iPhone is “online” in some fashion, instantly reachable by SMS, email or hopefully, an iPhone-enabled IM app, would be incredibly useful.

I really like having my entire set of contacts and calendars available on my iPhone. I’m using the new Plaxo 3.0 engine to sync calendars and contacts between my Mac’s iCal and Address Book, Outlook 2003 on Windows XP and my iPhone. What’s becoming a pain is having to use iTunes to facilitate the syncing of iPhone with these data sources.

What I’d really like is for continuous background synchronization of all my iPhone data (songs, photos, contacts, calendars, etc.) whenever I dock my iPhone with my Mac. Let me use iTunes when I need to do some direct management of data, e.g.: modifying playlists, but don’t force me to keep iTunes open just for synchronization purposes when I don’t need it.

I’m hoping that Leopard has a completely revised strategy and architecture for using all variety of syncable mobile devices with Mac OS X. Today’s process is fine, but it could be refined to be far more elegant and automatic.

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