Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Faster, Better, Cheaper ?

You know the adage right? You can never have all three, at very best two. There's usually a compromise across all three of faster / better/ cheaper. It depends on how you define these terms of course but with Apple's 3G iPhone announcement yesterday here's my initial thoughts.

1) Apple's mobileme: a cross between Zyb + Ovi(?) + Gdrive. Push mail, contacts and calendar with synch and sharing across pc, mac, iphone, appleTv - (not free). What about MS Mesh and the plethora of other backup, synch (funambol,dashwire,lifecache,sugarsych etc..) and share services in the cloud of Web 2.0 ? Will mobileme play nicely with the other web2.0 players for sharing photos, contacts, mail and calendar entries for example or are we back in walled-garden-world ?

2) Interesting to see the planned(?) "leaks" yesterday in an attempt to soften Apple's hype machine ie. the N85, N79 and 5800. Samsung also chose yesterday to launch the Omnia/Instinct - and RIM, well, they already announced the Thunder - classic prememptive tactics ?

3) iPhone battery improvements. Battery-life usually vanishes when multi-tasking multimedia when mobile on a fast connection. Intra-day charging is the norm for me just to survive, on any handset. If it lasts as long as the N78 (just like its predecessor the N73) I'd be happy (pretty sure it won't though).

4) 3G iPhone price point is crucial (£free- £100 tariff-dependent) with contract (18 months x £30 cheapest) - jailbreaking and unlocking will not be possible as in-store activation only? The hacker community will find a way - they always do; although it probaly won't be pretty, simple or quick...Will the mass market uptake (they might with a PAYG option) ?...When you compare what feature-phones and smartphones you can get for the same total-cost-of-ownership over 18 months in the UK - the 3G iphone offer is comparable now at least.

5) 22 countries on July 11th for the 3G iphone launch - 6 million 1st Gen iPhones sold so far, apple ** really ** must want to achieve that 10 million target, by end of the year 2008. Still a tiny drop in a big ocean of handset sales for perspective ...but the co-ordinated release date across 22 countries means word-of-mouth marketing will continue the next 6 weeks.

6) Hardware: No haptic feedback, no front camera, no camera upgrade or video support (what! - do Apple realise 8mp camerphones + xenon flash will be shipping this year in Europe), 16gb max storage (will it be enough - lots of apps will be > 10mb) and no keyboard or better bluetooth. Flush headphone jack (as it should have been). GPS chip and 'perceptively' thinner. Obviously there are tradeoffs, but camera over GPS ? - hmmm, perhaps apple should have attended a music concert to see what people do their with their mobile in this setting.

7) Software (iPhone v2.0) & apps - free upgrade for existing iphone users (good) and lots of interesting rich applications ready to launch (eg. mooCow's Band). Background tasking and push notifications aside (perhaps for another post), no MMS and copy/paste functionality? Lots of enterprise related software support including enhanced vpn, exchange and app-tieing-to-phone features - is this where the real money for Apple is ?

I'm underwhelmed, but from a strategy perceptive Apple are addressing the 3 pillars of consumer (price-focused), enterprise (corporate/security/email application focused) and developer (centralised distribution and strong revenue model plus SDK via the Application store focused) - how they maintain the momentum is yet to be seen.

So faster (3G bearer, faster-to-market than competitors less than 12 months for 2nd gen etc...), cheaper (just) but better?

What do you think ?