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.

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  • sam

    lol, then it wouldn’t be a phone

  • scott

    if you’re not going to use cingular’s service, than you’re paying $500 for a widescreen nano with wifi? lol. btw, if you think talking is what a cell phone is for, why do you have a treo and not a basic phone? because the treo offers tools you can use in addition to making calls. i remember someone posting about tethering and how great it was. who was that?

    come on, you follow the tech world enough to know this isn’t uncommon. rim signed a deal with tmo to offer the pearl exclusively for x months. the same happened with the treo, the razr, the fill in the blank new and shiny must have device. assuming, as is likely the case, that the phone will eventually move to other carriers, they couldn’t exactly say that with the cingular guy standing there. cingular wanted apple bad because they wanted switchers. if his steveness said “cingular for 3 months, and then cdma and a tmo version by september or october” waaaaaaaaaay too many people would just wait.

  • Rex Hammock

    I use the Treo for one reason: EVDO and bluetooth. Actually, that’s two reasons. I use it because I can have web access on my computer even when there’s no wifi around. It allows me to save money when I use it from hotels and airports that charge me for wifi access. I spend so much time in airports and hotels that it made sense. As for the Apple/Cingular arrangement, I hope you are correct. However, the announcement today made it sound like the exclusivity arrangement was for a long time — not just a few months.

  • Blair Stilwell

    I’m sure that Apple at least considered alternate networks and technologies. I have little doubt that they narrowed the field down to GSM (what Cingular uses for their network) for at least the initial release since GSM is used world-wide while CDMA is limited to a few large installations and is not capable of roaming. CDMA providers generally require handset customization beyond just being fixed to their network too. I’m disappointed that they only list EDGE connectivity for Internet instead of HSDPA. Maybe a CDMA version supporting EVDO will come out.

  • Hudge

    Hey Ceeesco! – That didn’t take very long:

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