The least impressive thing about the iPhone is that it’s a phone

[Photo: At the Macworld expo, the throng of pilgrims paid homage to the iPhone. Detail from photo, below]

Just spent three hours wandering around the Macworld Expo floor. Here’s a quote I over-heard from more than one person at the massive Apple display area. “I wish they’d just sell a version without the phone.” Me too. It is a beautiful little piece of composite material running OS X with wifi and a touch screen with cute two finger dragging commands. It’s totally envy-drool stuff. It has all sorts of patented (“more than 200 patents,” said Jobs, what seemed more than 200 times) technologies that allow it to do things like go from vertical to horizontal display when you turn it sideways (something that is hard to explain but brings a smile to you when you see it). It also is a $500 Mac that will depend on a “cloud” model of data storage. The idea is that you store all of your data on the web — Google and Yahoo! were both on stage and will, certainly, both have their versions of such solutions. Think of a version of Flickr/iPhoto integrated into it, for example.

That it’s a cell-phone, so what? Yes, I’ll probably be an early adopter, but I doubt I’ll use the Cingular service. (Perhaps this is merely my bias against all things phone-like coming through. Perhaps it’s just because I think talking on the phone is enough for a cell-phone to do.) Indeed, I think the Cingular’s CEO presentation today served as a great metaphor for how odd the juxtaposition of “cell phone” and “Apple product” is. He presented boiler-plate “great partners” cliches from note cards, for god sakes. It’s worth tracking down to view it as a parody: “Hello, I’m an Apple CEO.” “Hello, I’m a Telco CEO.”

What’s more: Why should I have to be a Cingular customer to use iPhone’s phone? Not that I’m a fan of any cell-phone service, but I have a longterm, businesswide relationship with Sprint that I’m not going to unravel no matter how cool the iPhone is. I have several people interwoven with the Sprint relationship and it would be crazy to blow that up. Anyway, why should Apple have an exclusive deal with only one cell-phone provider? It would be like them offering TV show downloads on iTunes from only one network or music downloads for only one record label. Great for a novelty, but longterm success comes from having the most options possible. If they want to start out with Cingular for technical reasons, fine. But the deal that was announced today sounded like an exclusive, longterm relationship. That’s crazy. The more I think about it, the more I think I won’t be purchasing an iPhone until there’s no phone on it and it’s called iPod II or something.

My newsreader is filling with responses to the iPhone, AppleTV

  • Stephen Johnson: “I don’t think I have ever felt such an overwhelming desire to own — no, just to touch — a product in my life.”
  • Robert Scoble: “Is the Apple TV only 720p HD? That really, really, really sucks. If that’s true this thing is dead on arrival. Apple, the entire industry is ahead of you if that’s true. The iPhone looks really cool, though.”

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  • Some thoughts on Macworld before I read what everyone else says

    I’m back in my room briefly before heading out on the exhibit floor to see all the new stuff. Here are some thoughts:

  • The Swiss-Army knife — it’s everything — aspect of the iPhone is going to confuse a lot of the coverage. The cell-phone part is going to be the focus, but this surely ushers in a whole new class of Mac products that may or may not have “cell phone” service necessary.

  • The iPhone is a tablet Mac — just a little small. It’s OS X running on a chunk of plastic with a touch screen interface. Let me make this clear: A bigger profile and and you’ll have a tablet Mac…but it’s already a tablet Mac the size of a Moleskine notepad.

  • What’s with that whole trademark problem?
  • Jobs said the word “patents” — “we’ve got patents” — at the beginning, middle and end of the iPhone presentation. I think that means Apple expects lots of time in the courtroom.
  • TV reporters (non-tech) were working the man-on-the-street angle before the keynote by asking people in line, “Are you here because this could be Steve Jobs’ last keynote address because of the options scandal?” The people in line were dumb-founded by the question. It was obvious that neither the reporters nor those being interviewed have any idea what the options scandal is.

  • The Apple TV is very cool, but I’m confused. Can I play a DVD on my computer and stream it to my big TV?

  • If I want to purchase an iSight camera for my Mac, they’re no longer available at the Apple store or on Apple.com. I mention that because there are a lot of Mac-related announcements that are obviously in the queue that weren’t mentioned today. Unlike the typical “state of the union” address in which Jobs touches on a wide array of software and hardware developments, this keynote was rather focused — so look for lots of peripheral announcements later.

  • Cingular? I’d rather just use it with wifi. (I’m sure I’ll be changing carriers one day, however.)

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  • Macworld 2007 keynote speech

    9:05 It is 8:59 pacific time and I’ve just been let into “the room” where “Steve” will be. This is a test to see if I can post. As I seem able to gain access via my phone’s evdo, I’ll continue to post here. It will be in chronological order (I will add the lastest to the bottom).

    9:18 Over half of new Macs sold to “switchers.” Shows a new commercial – Vista switching. “If I don’t come back, you can have my perepherals.” This is all we’re going to talk about the Mac.

    9:17 Now we’re going to talk about the music business. iPod nano is the worlds more popooular MP3 player. iTunes: Sold over 2 billion songs. (applause) There was a report that sales were slowing, “Don’t know where they got their data. Ours shows sales doubled last year. Over 5 million songs a day. 58 songs a second. Now, “we are the fourth in music sales” (behind Walmart Best Buy and Target — passed Amazon.

    9:30 Introduces Apple TV (formerly known as code name iTV) “A way to enjoy your media on your big TV.” You can buy great content on iTunes store and download it to your computer — I’m going to use a Mac. You can purchase and big screen TV and wirelessly connect your computer to your big TV. (Shows graphic of the back of) (lots of specs that will be available anywhere are spouted off to applause).

  • Can auto synch from one computer. (i.e., queue up most recent downloads)
  • Can stream up to five different computers
  • (Jobs demos streaming of movie trailer (good shepherd), movies (zoolander), TV)
  • Demos how it can be used to stream music into home audio system. (uses Apple favorite, John Mayer, in demo, “doesn’t burn a hole in your plasma TV, he jokes.
  • Demos displaying photos on TV via Apple TV (but he keeps calling it iTV).
  • Demos streaming a TV show from his “neighbor” Phil — a scene from 30 Rock. Uses a pen number to gain access. (For security reasons, he says.)
  • Priced at $299, shipping in February, orders taken immediately.
  • Turns somber. I’ve been waiting for this day for over 2 1/2 years — to introduce a revolutionary product. Reviews 1984, Mac; 2001, iPod. Well, today, we’re introducing three new revolutionary products:
    1 widescreen iPod with touch controls
    2. Revolutionary mobile phone
    3. Breakthrough Internet communicator

    But these are not three separate devices. And we’re calling it iPhone…and here it is…

    “We are going to reinvent the phone”

  • “Revolutionary UI:” Why? (shows 4 smart phone — what’s wrong with them. It’s the keyboards that are fixed in plastic and there even when you don’t need them. You can’t add buttons later. The buttons and the conttrols can’t change, now or down the road. How do you solve that. We solved it in comoputers 20 years ago — bitmap screen and pointing device. How are we going to take it too mobile device: Just make a giant screen.
  • Giant screen
  • No sylist: Uses finger. “Multi-touch” works like magic. More accurate than any touch screen. Can do multifinger jestures. And, boy have we patented it.
  • Software: “At least five years ahead of anything else” — it runs OS X. Allows “desktop class” applications. Quotes Alan Kay (one of the original Apple fellows), “people really serioius about creating great software should create hardware.”
  • Synchs w/ iTunes (PC or Mac) — your media: also synchs a lot of data: photos, notes, bookmarsk, email accounts….you set it up synch w/ iTunes
  • Design: Only one button — home. 11.6 millimeter thin, 3 1//2 in diiameter. 2 megapiixle camera, top. headset jacke, sim card, sleep button. bottom: speaker: iPod connector…

  • 9:55 Starts demo. (The audience is in awe…I can’t type.)

  • He uses the Beatles in a demo, so I guess that means there’s a Beatles announcement somewhere?
  • Demos video that is, I’m sorry, you’re going to have to watch a video demo to fully comprehend this.

    It’s the best iPod we’ve ever made. “You can now touch your music.”
    iPhone: The killer-ap is making calls. We want you to be able to sych w/ your contacts:

  • visual voicemail: go straight to the message
  • Quad band GSM + Edge
  • Excellent audio quoity
  • Wifi and bluetooth
  • Demos the interface of the contacts, calling and conferencing features. SMS. Photo-management (awesome).

    2-finger control called “the pinch” awes audience.

    10:15: Internet Communications Device — on iPhone

  • supports IMAP or POP3
  • runs safari
  • google maps
  • “we have widgets”
  • communicates via wifi or edge — automatically finds wifi
  • Announces: Free “push” IMAP email from Yahoo! Begins demo of IMAP/POP mail, google maps and widgets.

    Demos Safari running on the iPhone — not a WAP or mobile version – uses a “double tap” on any content and it screens up” — (Editorial Note: you will want to see this Demo’d quickly — it will change the way you perceive small-screen surfing). He demos using NY Times and Amazon. (Ed. Note: Again, this is hard to explain. You’ll have to see for yourself.)

    (Editorial note: Second mention of Apple Board member and Nashvillian Al Gore.)

    “If you’ve ever used a “web browser” you’ll know how radical this is, he says.

    Demos widgets: They look exactly like on dashboard, but fill the screen

    Demos google maps on iPone. Full screen, overlays a keypad, searches for “Starbucks” and immediately, points appear all over the map. He then calls the Starbucks — and pranks them: “I’d like to order 4,000 lattest to go…sorry, wrong number.” Uses the “pinch” to navigate google maps. (Ed. Note: Those who use google maps on Treo or other mobile device will recognize the tricks he’s doing — however, it’s still cool with the pinching and double tapping.) “That’s the colleseum,” he marvels. “That’s the colleseum.” “Right on.”

    It’s the internet in you pocket.

    Dr. Eric Schmidt , CEO of Google, walks on (following is NOT verbatim, but my notes: “Congratualtions, Steve. An incredible job. I’ve had a privilege of joining Apple board. “What I like about this device is you can “merge without merging.” Each company should do what they do the best. Internet architecture allow you to take braintrust of Apple and those at Google and put into a seamless way for users. At Google, we’ve tried to partner with other companies and working with other data services. This is a set of data so you can really get the full integration. It comes together seamlessly. This is the first of a whole generation of “cloud” computers (Google) that devices like IPhone can take advantage of.”

    Jerry Yang, founder and Chief Yahoo: (following is NOT verbatim) “I’m not an Apple board member but would love one of these. Mail is a killer app and Yahoo is trying to reinvent email on mobile devices. It’s like having a blackberry without the exchange server. We want to take what Apple’s doing on the phone device and recreate the web experience/services also.

    He demos the whole she-bang thing. (Ed note: He is truly the master of CEO demoing — he knows the product and is so well rehearsed he uses power functions I doubt anyone will ever do – simultaneously, at least, and in front of 4,000 people and a global audience.)

    He introduces Stan Sigman (of Cingular/ATT) who demonstats how truly bad a CEO can blow a presentation by pulling out 4 x5 cards and reading the worst canned speech of all time — whoever at Cingular let this guy on the stage should be fired.

    Steve: “We come from different worlds.” (No kidding.)

    Steve then has a technical problem. His “clicker” won’t work. He vamps by telling a Steve Wozniak story the audience loves. Someone backstage takes over.

    Steve announces they are droping the “Computer” from the Apple Computer corporate name.

    More:

    Engadget’s coverage
    Macworld Expo07 Flickr Pool

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