Our World. Our Minutae.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

iPhone: Your In-Car Touchscreen Music Jukebox ... and Just the Beginning ...

In all the cries of what's in - what's not in and who's going to be suing whom, people have sort of skirted over the fact that you no longer need to rip apart a MacBook and add a touchscreen to create an in-car jukebox.

Attach a Mac Mini somewhere in your vehicle. Create a mount for your iPhone. Plug in the iPhone USB connector to your Mac Mini. You have iTunes for music, photos, audiobooks, podcasts and videos - and instead of a cap of 8 GB, you could go up to a couple terrabytes.

You can also of course use it as a phone - how common of you though ...

With some hacking, it can probably read emails to you and to take it further - start a mini broadcast while your rollng slowly down the highway - you can create your own mini radio/podcast station - and others can wifi to access your live "I'm stuck in traffic' blog.

Think BIG!

Monday, January 15, 2007

iPhone: The Un-Answered Questions

No surprise, there's a lot of FUD and the backlash has begun already ... consider these numbers:

6,500,000,000 people on Earth (approximately). 45,000 people on Earth who have actually been in the same room as iPhone (MacWorld South Hall). 100 people who we have seen or read comments from that have actually touched the phone.

So before you go half-cocked, full-cocked or .000000001% cocked - until you even seen or touched it - keep your thoughts, opinions and comments in perspective - everyone is entitled to an opinion but keep it in perspective or post your disclaimer up front.

But to deflate some FUD trial ballons that are going up:

EXPENSIVE? Yes and no. It all depends on your needs, wants and income. At current prices, you get a $249 iPod built in - and the other $350 in cost to you for in that same device? You get an Apple cell phone with an Apple UI plus essentially a Nano Mac Mini.

Sure, you paid anywhere from zero to $250 for your phone now. I think it's safe to say that with a billion sold EVERY year, very few people think it's the greatest consumer electronics gadget they have ever seen or even in the top 10 of things they've ever bought. You would think that after selling tens of billions of something, things would be vastly better but my Moto phone today is only marginally better than my Moto phone of the 1990's. There are so many things wrong with it, it's hard to decide what to note first ... from the speaker at the back of the phone so I can never really hear what the other person on a conf call is really saying to the fact my phone cannot figure out that there is daylight savings and I have to manually change my phone time or that Moto's sync means if my contact has 7 phone numbers, it automatically gets 7 listings. These are just some of the 100 things not quite right and frankly - stupid about all cell phones. If it's not the three things listed, it's another 97 things. These are not difficult things - they are just careless droppings from telco bureaucrats so whether you intent to buy an iPhone or not, hopefully Apple entering will shake people up. Ignoring the status factor factor of having the phone in the first few months, it's whether having a world class UI and a world class phone with a world class screen is worth $350 to you? Presuming you're the type who love music also and/or wants 4-8GB of HD space for $249? If not, there are free phones and you do NOT have to buy the iPhone. For some people $599 is rent money, for others, it's their monthly sushi budget so it's for and not for everyone.

CINGULAR/AT&T - Yes, I have no love for the telco twits at AT&T and sure, it would've been great to have an unlocked phone to drop in my SIM card but here's the reasoning. Apple is all about plug 'n play. Let's say they do sell an unlocked phone - while 10-25% of people would clearly know how to drop in a SIM card, what about the other 75-90% people? Does Apple let them wander randomly into stores, booths and guys on the street corners promising to hook them up with cell service? There would be a mass of peope at the Genius Bar asking them why their iPhone doesn't work with Fred's Cell Phone service. So, yea, this is a decision that annoys the 10% of us online, at phone forums and who love to fiddle with every setting but for the VAST MAJORITY of people, they just want to make a phone call - having it at Cingular/AT&T is a choice "average" people understand - and also as important - every cell phone company has their own "advanced" services - in this case, the visual voicemail & the internet surfing features of the iPhone. Every phone company has a slightly different protocol, I'm not saying it's a good thing as the reason they make it different is so you can't readily switch but that's the way it is now so again, if you buy a $599 cell phone, the LAST THING the average person wants to hear is, "Oh, you can't access T-Mobile's voicemail or our internet access with that thing." Or conversely - does Apple want to bother making sure the most advanced services work with each service? What would that entail? And sure in some sense, Apple loses some leverage that way - by only allowing one company to sell it, Apple can probably get some guarantee of advertising and/or actual paymebnt - perhaps tied into a % of the revenue per customer, etc ... it's not the best solution for 100% of the customers but it is the simplest solution for the vast majority of customers and easiest for Apple. And after two years? Almost anything is possible from an Apple branded service to wifi max in metro areas or simply unlocked phones in other colors ... but who knows what will be happening in 2 years?

Do I doubt there will be an unlocking utility in 6 hours? Let's bet, does an iPhone get bought and smashed on the sidewalk and the video posted to YouTube first? Or an unlock hack? But again, how many people outside of DIYers and hackers want to spend $600 on a phone only to be missing 2-5 important features? (We also keep hearing speculation on .Mac sychronization so who knows what else we might have to live with using an iPhone on T-Mobile?) for the vast majority of users, they just want to buy a phone, activate it and start using it (of course, shooting the first UNPACKING video if possible).

It should be also noted that ANY choice that Apple made would've been followed with "grief": Verizon, incompatible CDMA! T-Mobile, smaller than the two biggest choices. why oh why? Sprint, financially in trouble - how could they compete with the big two? Why not go with a better choice? Or going it alone as their own branded service? ESPN Mobile anyone? So, you see - any choice would've only met with different FUD - because you can find a problem with every choice including if Apple had not announced a cell phone ;-)

NOT THE ONLY iPHONE - Sure, are there features other people want? Of course. Some people seem to think Apple is going to release one phone and that it will only feature these things announced forever ... first, Apple could decide to add almost anything in 6 months - once FCC approval is completed and it's a minor add-on that doesn't require them going back for more approval - anything could be added - and sure - down the line, GPS or 3G could be added - if you decide that is the most critical thing to you - then wait. You have to keep in mind that of over 150 million cell phone users in the US, there are barely over a million people using 3G or the EVDO services - and of course, they all seem to be bloggers :-) but keep calm people - you make it seem as if Apple is only releasing a DVORAK keyboard version ... (and no, I do not know if you can change QWERTY to DVORAK on the iPhone :-)

3RD PARTY APPLICATIONS - Sure, I would like that feature and while Steve was probably over-simplifying what the situation would be but the facts are that out of the 150 million users in the US, only about 3% of people have a "smartphone/PDA phone," so clearly there are not a vast amount of people clamoring to load apps onto a phone right now - again, I think what Apple is simply trying to say is that for the vast majority of users, they want a phone, they do not want to deal with an installer or the worst case scenario - having to buy Symantec software to keep your phone clean. Again, would it stun me if hackers devised a way to load apps? No, not really but like the iPod, I'm sure at some point, there will be a "sanctioned" way to load apps but also keep in mind if you need to read text, spreadsheets or whatever - you can read them off the internet - and people seem to think that iWork will be closely tied into it. I'm also positive at some point, you will be able to load 3rd party apps.

LAWSUIT - Some people seem stunned that anyone would sue Apple or vice versa - I would bet money all 1,000 top Fortune 1,000 companies have some lawsuit or legal action pending at some point or another - we live in a society that likes to sue people and companies for good, bad or whatever. It's just another day for legal. Clearly if Apple calls a lawsuit "silly," they feel confident - whether it's misplaced or not is hard to say at this point. It isn't so clear and dry, it's not like Apple wants to use RAZR or TREO so big whoop. At worst, it might be called iPHON or iMobile or whatever - the name hardly matters - the iPod could've been called anything else but not from Apple with Apple design and UI - it would just be another Mp3 DAP.

COMPETITION - Oh no, there will be competition and it's not a cakewalk ... (keep in mind, even in a cakewalk, you're not guranteed a cake or the one you want :-)

Okay, now name a product class in today's global economy where there is no competition? THERE IS COMPETITION for anything and everything - even the free food giveaway at Costco has competition. Apple is literally a big boy company that can play and compete with other grown up companies. NO ONE is guaranteed anything anymore and EVERY company on Earth older than a year had has its failures ... okay, coincidentially, maybe only Pixar is exempt :-) though you could claim they were not very/barely successful as a software company ... okay, I feel better now :-) so oh yeah, it's scary out there and yea, beyond the million they will definitely sell in the first two weeks in June, it's hard to say how many they will really sell but that's true of any company and like the iPod in its early days, many people are skeptical of people oohing over it and as cynics - dismissive but once it's out and they've seen it close up or touched it - like the iPod, it will help turn the tide ... and in late April (I'm guessing) when the pre-ordering starts and in May, when the hype starts back up or Apple casually announces 3G (it could happen ;-0), the craziness will start back up again - along with $100 million in advertising and signage AT&T will throw at this thing.

AT&T's cell phone network will go down the day it arrives in hand as it's like the 1990's - people calling up everyone and shouting, "Dude, you know what i'm calling you on?" :-)

And if you still have any un-answered questions? Don't forget to check David Pogue's Great Summations of All Questions Smart & Not So Smart - Part I & Part II.