iPhone: Changing the paradigm of connection

There are dozens of thoughts swirling through my head after Jobs’ keynote at Macworld, but there is one that is uppermost in my mind and, perhaps, is a slightly different perspective than others about the amazing package Apple has delivered with the iPhone.

The accelerating human-to-human connection that a global internet and mobile telephony provides is astounding. But when you think about the implications of the world’s knowledge AT YOUR FINGERTIPS with extremely powerful handheld devices it gets even more interesting, lifechanging, and truly an enormous catalyst to drive interactions online.

Not that smartphones haven’t existed before…it’s that they’ve been “just OK” since they’re replete with compromises. I love my Treo 700p and think it’s cool…but the operating system and applications on it (I use the PalmOS version) feels like the old, shaky, MacOS 9 instead of the robust, unix-based Mac OS X operating system (which the iPhone is based upon). The Windows Mobile version of the Treo is worse since Windows Mobile feels like Window98 stuffed into a phone and has a PC-centric user interface.

The iPhone is a reinvention of the concept of a portable, rich, elegant, comprehensive communications device for your hip or purse and if the keynote or Apple web site animations are any indicator, this is going to be one phenomenal device. Are there tradeoffs and compromises? Probably…but sitting on my desk right now is the first generation iPod which looks laughingly clunky right now even though it was launched in October of 2001. My…how things have changed with the iPod devices in that short time. We can expect the same with this class of device from Apple and others.

Now think about the trends in social software; in Web applications; in video, audio and animations; in education. How cool is it that you could easily and seamlessly interact with them all from wherever you happen to be at the moment?

I can only imagine the possibilities of searching Google and having location-based advertising show up. Or being able to grab a picture and moblog on the spot. Or working on some machine and quickly looking up the manual online (I do so now but go to my computer, find the PDF, print the page and take it with me). Learning (education and training) is the category that promises to be changed the most since why bother to memorize tons of information and data when you can just look it up? Having the world’s information at your fingertips will have profound implications and I’m already experiencing many of them today via my Treo and the fast Verizon EV-DO network.

I have one year left on my Verizon contract with my Treo 700p but will undoubtedly buy one of these anyway and sign up for Cingular. Wow.

1 Comment

  1. Marc Orchant on January 13, 2007 at 1:39 pm

    Steve – you raise some interesting points. Like you, I’m a longtime Treo user and have gotten much good use from my current Verizon Treo 700p. And, as we’ve discussed in the past, the Palm OS is in serious need of refreshing to keep up with where Windows Mobile is heading, not to mention the implications raised by Apple’s announcement.

    But you’ve missed a big piece of the picture by not including Symbian devices in your discussion. Having had the opportunity to work with a Nokia N93 device – I’m still not sure what the best label is for this incredibly capable machine – I can tell you that Symbian S60 Series 3, the current state of the art on this platform used on Nokia handsets worldwide is a powerhouse OS capable of many astonishing tricks.

    Unlike Palm OS, it mulitasks which allows instant switching between running applications. Unlike the current Windows Mobile offerings, it doesn’t have a Win98 look and the added disadvantage of ActiveStink (which Vista will hopefully make a bad memory this year and next).

    There are many applications available for the OS in every category you can tick off (check Handango for an idea) and the UI is very well-designed and customizable.

    Nokia stated at CES that they have 850 million handsets in use worldwide. That is a global market segment that needs to be factored into discussions like this one, even though we live in the US where Nokia is still equated more with inexpensive, underpowered devices. While in Europe last month, I gained a much-needed perspective adjustment on how the rest of the world is working. In June, when Apple ships their phone (whatever it’s called and assuming they hit that target), there will be four, not three, platforms to consider – especially given the obvious commitment Nokia has made to increase their visibility and presence in the US market.

    All of which, in the final analysis, is great for always connected folks because choice is the ultimate good for us consumers.



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About Steve Borsch

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