Is the iPhone a phone ?

Steve Jobs has done it again: the introduction of the iPhone is without doubt THE event of 2007 in the telecom and internet world. How does a computer producer succeed in shaking up this market? What is so special about the iPhone?
The iPhone didn’t miss its entrance: on September 1st, only 74 days before the introduction, the 1 millionth iPhone was sold. It seems that Apple will easily obtain its target of 10 million sold devices by the end of 2008. Despite these phenomenal figures this introduction should be interpreted on a larger scale: in a market that sells about a billion mobile phones each year, the sales volume of the iPhone are thus far just a fraction.

Certain important innovations can largely explain the success of the iPhone: the simple usability through an innovative and very ingenious touch screen allows new possibilities without the need of keyboard or pencil. The splendid web browser and the simplicity to install widgets creates a bunch of possibilities for customization. The iPhone is also an immediate eye catcher because of its sober and very attractive design. Finally, the media hype – neatly orchestrated by Steve Jobs before the introduction – clearly didn’t miss its effect.

Apple iPhone

Yet we are convinced that the impact of the iPhone will be more than just a brief hype. For us, the iPhone isn’t primarily a phone, but rather a mobile internet device, targeted at a large mass market. The built-in automatic and powerful Wifi detector is an important element for this. It is expected that other mobile phone producers won’t wait long to introduce similar internet products on the market.

So will we all soon be walking around with an iPhone? Despite the fact that version 1.0 already offers an incredible amount of features, it won’t come to that so fast. For example, it is a pity that the current version of the iPhone only provides 2G (gprs, edge) access. In the European countries, where 3G is more and more the norm, this is an important handicap. To enthusiasm a larger mass market for the device – which is clearly the strategy of Apple – the high price tag will also have to be lowered a lot.

With the iPhone, Apple has caused yet another shock in the industry: the mobile operators, with whom exclusive distribution deals were set, pay Apple a fixed amount for each new subscription that is done by the iPhone. Initially, the iPhone was only offered in the States on the AT&T network. The devices were specifically secured for this. Soon however the first crack algorithms appeared online and currently there are more than 250.000 “unlocked” devices in use. Too bad for Apple and AT&T, because this means an important loss of revenue for both companies.

The impact of the iPhone on the development of the mobile internet on the consumer market will possibly even be bigger than the effect that the Blackberry caused on the business segment by making e-mail accessible on the mobile. The Nokia’s and SonyEricssons of this world won’t be erased by the iPhone, but Apple has once again put the standard at a very high level and will without a doubt give a strong impulse to the mobile internet.

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