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back to article Apple proves: It pays to be late

This week Apple threw the kitchen sink at its iPhone/Touch software stack (details outlined here), removing most of the most irritating nuisances at a stroke. It's a stunning achievement. So Apple now finds itself where everyone else in the mobile handset business wanted to be 15 years ago. Large companies full of clever people …

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License the iPhone OS

Is SymbianOS really the problem for Nokia? Or is it S60? Can someone out there run the iPhone OS on a usually underpowered Nokia handset and see what the performance is like?

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Go

Good overview

Completely agree: Apple came late and with a phone that had a limited set of feature compared to the competition but what it did, it did very well. As for Nokia, they have a simpler option than licensing Apple's OS: bring Maemo from the tablets to the phones. However, what they will also need is an application store built on the same lines as the iPhone one, which is what they're already doing IIRC.

Interesting times ahead in that market and thanks Apple for rocking the boat of the network providers!

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Yes, but

I agree with almost everything said here. Only 'almost' though:

I really don't think different versions of the iPhone ('iPhone photo' 'iPhone touch') are likely to appear. There is nothing like the iPhone - a statement where the emphasis is on 'THE'. Whether correct or not, I feel Apple will would see multiple models as a dilution of the the brand. One major alternative (iPhone Nano) maybe, but more than that would be counter-productive.

As pointed out Apple have done well by not going for market segmentation and ticking all the boxes, but going for the one killer product that completely outdoes the competition in that zone.

While I'm quite sure the writer is aware of the difference, he has somewhat blurred the boundary between OS (Symbian) and UI (S60). Nokia are actually in a strong position of running Symbian which is a good solid base for running proper native applications. Faster task switch is mentioned as a problem on the iPhone - the iPhone doesn't DO task switching, there is no multi-tasking at the application level, it merely gives the impression of it with stateful application switching, whereas a Symbian Phone can task switch all day, my E71 will happily run Gmail, Google Maps and my Calendar all at once.

Now as it happens I quite like S60, but then I'm happy to read e-mail from a command line, so I'm not a good example. Perhaps Nokia are following the mantra of 'it pays to be late'. They got beaten to the punch with swish UI's, they might as well wait for the dust to settle from the Pre, and then wander onto the pitch and knock all the young'uns for 6, having seen all the lessons they've learnt.

Will

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How would that work exactly?

I have trouble with some of the suggestions for the iPhone. I would agree that a better camera, video, Flash, and background processes would be nice additions. I don't miss them, but they would be nice to have. But a physical keyboard instantly kills the advantages of the iPhone and turns it into something crappy like a blackberry. The advantage of no physical keyboard is that the keyboard can be modified via softare (as they did at least once already) and you get the new improved version without having to buy new hardware. Along the same lines the budget iPhone nano makes no sense either. Right now an iPhone is $200 with a contract. A nano product would be smaller, rendering the screen real estate unusable for much of the functionality it has now. So now you have a crippled phone (like every other manufacturer makes) and you sell it for what? $99? $49? You've saved the customer very little money and you've destroyed the usability of the phone.

I just don't see a physical keyboard nor a nano version happening. I think those suggestions often come from people who don't understand the design decisions Apple made when creating the iPhone, or how they envision the device being used by their customers.

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Not for me

The iPhone is undoubtedly a wonderful product, but it's simply far too large to be carried in my pocket comfortably. Also, I prefer a proper keyboard with buttons. So I prefer a smaller, specialist phone.

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I wish they'd get there finger out....

Put simply the only thing stopping me ditching my N82, is the woeful camera on the iPhone. At the moment I carry my 16GB Touch and phone around,, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the jump between the cameras resolution. Roll on July, but certainly now with my breath held....

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Jobs Halo

Now this was very good until ...

... you stated that Apple should make loads of different phones.

You mention the low end of the mobile market having razor thin margins. The only way to make money is to make cheap phones that are plastic crap. Just like the PC biz Apple is leaving other companies to have a race to the bottom while it keeps turning out high quality kit.

If you like Apple is an expensive 'escort' who leaves you feeling like you've had the Girl Friend Experience. The other phone/PC makers are the street prostitutes who leave you feeling grubby and ashamed (and with an itch) as you know you are feeding their crack habit.

I know which one I'd like to suck my cock.

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Paris Hilton

Apples' sucess

is down to the fact you can only buy one iPhone (memory limits aside) whereas Nokia has 5 zallion* models, as does Sony,Palm etc.

Doing only one model means everyone gets it, level playing field etc etc. The phone operators can then do their own price plans (extra text, data etc etc) to be different from each other (or own price bands - cheap estate yobs or business paid-for yuppies).

One advert, one model. Any colour (as long as it's black etc etc).

Basically Apple is keeping it simple because their target audience is simple.

Speaking about KISS and simple....

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Gasp

Good God, a balanced iPhone article on el reg - do my eyes deceive me??

Enjoyable read - nice one. :-)

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Anonymous Coward

US market

This is a no brainer in the US. Americans are very patriotic and will buy American products in preference. Why buy a European phone when a cool US device exists?

Motorola used to dominate the market, but lost the plot. Apple have simply taken this over, barging their way in with a device that left Motorola dead in the water. However, it was still US vs US companies.

Motorola's response? - ditch the highly developed and well understood Symbian OS and back the completely unknown quantity that is Android instead. Same reason behind this though - Android perceived as American, Symbian OS is European.

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@Will Wykeham

"Perhaps Nokia are following the mantra of 'it pays to be late'. They got beaten to the punch with swish UI's, they might as well wait for the dust to settle from the Pre, and then wander onto the pitch and knock all the young'uns for 6, having seen all the lessons they've learnt"

Did you learn nothing from reading that article?

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@Apples' sucess

"Basically Apple is keeping it simple because their target audience is simple."

Sounds like a Nokia owner.

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@Andrew Thomas

Too large? I admit I was a bit worried about that before I bought my iPhone but actually, it's so thin that it slips into either a front or back trouser pocket very easily without you even noticing it's there. Quite literally so... on more than one occasion I've frantically searched the house trying to locate my iPhone only to find it was in my pocket the whole time!

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What's wrong with Nokia's S60 UI?

It works perfectly fine on my 5800... and strangely enough, I've played with an iPhone before. So... again, where's the fuss?

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@Will Wykeham

Whilst I also don't necessarily see the draw of Apple running multiple lines of iPhones, you're not quite right when you say "I feel Apple will would see multiple models as a dilution of the the brand", I think you're forgetting the iPhone's closest corporate relative, the iPod. Apple have clearly 'diluted' the brand here. Once upon a time the iPod was the iPod. Nowadays, it's everything from that ridiculous new nano thing, all the way up to the iPod Touch. There are flash versions, hard drive versions. Some have screens, some don't. Some come in a thousand fruity flavours, ... well you get the idea.

At this point, the iPod Touch is closer to the PDA you always wished Palm would have made, than the original iPod. It's a long way away from the "it does one thing and does it well" ethos that was the original iPod mission statement.

So yeah, I disagree with Andrew Orlowski's take on where Apple should take the iPhone, but if Apple see a way of creating new product lines that wont cause too much user confusion, don't doubt they'll do it.

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I dislike the Title field

The media cycle continues – the rest of the press is cooling off on Apple, whilst El Reg (ever the contrarian) begins to defrost. It's cute!

Not sure I follow your logic towards the end; Apple's great strength has been a unified product, done well... so they should diversify into different lines, and abandon that? As other commenters have pointed out, that doesn't seem like a great idea. Although, a certain amount of differentiation could be accommodated (eg., better camera added, or some features missing – like the iPod Touch doesn't have a cell radio or GPS), it seems like this would probably be more trouble, and cause more confusion, than it's worth.

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No need for specalist versions...

... it's got that dock. Better cameras, phantom powered condenser mics etc could be added fairly easily.

Better advice would be for every other manufacturer to make fewer phones. SE cut its _to_ 78 models recently. 78 is ludicrous. I'd get it down to 5 or 6. Any more than 10 is insanity.

Nice article.

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Simplicity wins

I just cant see the point have something really unnecessarily complicated, the Americans spent zillions of dollars developing a biro that would work in space whilst the Russians used a pencil.

No pun intended, but if a phone is too complicated you just either get pissed off with it or dont use the complex bits, my wife has an iPhone & its not only straightforward to use, but quite good fun as well.

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(Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

Re: Gasp

Ross - right from launch, I hoped the iPhone would shake up both sides of the mobile business, and that Apple's innovation and aesthetics would be rewarded.

see http://www.theregister.co.uk/2007/01/10/iphone_where_is_the_market/ ;-)

And I'd still be using mine if it wasn't so slow. (Compare checking your accounts in Profimail on an E71 with an iPhone 3G)

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Problem with Nokia

As one of the ex-EMCC who left to work on the iPhone I can say it's Symbian AND S60 (plus UIQ which was also awful).

The problem is that it was an OS that was designed for low powered devices years ago and now has major structural problems that basically prevent Nokia from doing much to improve that. If you ask me Nokia should just wrap it up, and use Android or buy Palm for their Web OS which looks VERY nice.

However as I saw at EMCC, it's probably the case at Nokia that too many people have put their reputations or it's where their skills lie behind Symbian and therefore will ignore the issue until it's too late.

Shame!

But I don't think it's the performance of the phones hardware. I think the N95 actually beats the iPhone in OpenGL benchmarks.

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Replies galore

@us market

As an American who can't swing a dead cat without hitting another American (I'm surrounded by the bastards!) I have to disagree with your assessment of Americans buying phones because they are perceived to be American made. While a small segment of the population undoubtedly feels this way (hardcore union members with cult-like devotion come to mind), most Americans don't care. I'll bet only 1 out of 10 Americans could tell you the home country of many phone manufacturers and far less than that would have a clue that Android was released by Google. A small subset of them are technophiles and would know, but most technophiles just want a device based on certain specs, not country of origin. I believe the iPhone is a hit because Apple released a device where all functionality was easy to use, unlike any other cell phone over her released by any other manufacturer (foreign or domestic).

@Jez Caudle

Your post is one of the finest posts I've ever seen. You and I obviously share the same gift of using vivid, clarifying analogies. I find that creating a prostitute analogy clarifies an issue far greater than anything else I could possibly do. If you are trying to make an argument and you really want to pound it home (no pun intended) then go for the prostitute analogy.

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everything

@Adam Starkey

"Nowadays, it's everything from that ridiculous new nano thing, all the way up to the iPod Touch."

Let's see, the Shuffle, Nano and Touch. That makes 3, you covered 2, wow I guess that's "EVERYTHING". If you want to say 4 by mentioning the Classic, well that's just a leftover from early days and doesn't really count. The Touch is the replacement for the Classic and represents the high end music player. The other 2 were created to grab up the bottom end of the music player field.

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Anonymous Coward

I would like to complain in the strongest terms possible

about the almost complete absence of anti-Apple bias in this article. Indeed, it can almost be read as suggesting that The Register in some way tacitly approves of an Apple product, and I'm we're all aware that this represents the thin end of the wedge. Before we know it there'll be a grudgingly impressed review of the latest Mac Pro, thoughtful analysis on the release of OS X Snow Leopard an wholesale delight at the next iPod revision. Stop the rot before it starts, say I, and down with this sort of thing.

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Gold badge

Bad for corporates, but some good apps

We've got a few as surrogate Blackberries (i.e. hooked up to Exchange et al).

The inability to run multiple processes means there is NO way to run any kind of security, so if someone cooks up an iPhone virus you have a problem. The lack of cut-n-paste was also a HUGE omission, and there is no real way to kill the phone when lost or stolen - the contents cannot be protected AFAIK.

And there's that stupid aspect of not being able to use it as 3G modem..

However, after saying all that, sometimes an app comes along that makes the phone worth it for the app alone. For the Sony Ericsson P1i it was the business card scanner (OCR for business cards), for the iPhone it MUST be "Tap Forms", the database application.

Never since the Psion Organiser II have I had my hands on a database application easier to use. Sure, I had to improve the UI to the Psion's FIND and SAVE functions (the input editor sucked) but it was useful due to its simplicity. This is really the first time in years I've had my hands on something that betters this.

Now if there was only a way to add a laser keyboard I'd be fine - I'm still all thumbs on the iPhone..

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jai
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multiple iphones

I also can't see Apple producing multiple iphone models

they said they were only looking to get 1% of the market within 2008

they've done that, they're probably looking at getting 5% next, but not looking for total market control yet

and anyway - they're computer and ipod ranges aren't diversified. Apple don't like to be mediocre in all ranges, they prefer to be good in just one or two.

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Unhappy

@ N

that story about NASA's pen and the Russian's pencil is an urban myth....a pencil wasn't allowed in case the lead broke off and got stuck in an air duct or something...

http://www.snopes.com/business/genius/spacepen.asp

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So much potential

and still a shit phone

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Jobs Horns

@Yes, but

"Whether correct or not, I feel Apple will would see multiple models as a dilution of the the brand. "

Not necessarily. As mentioned above, they have done it with the iPod...

Now the question is: was the iPod brand diluted? I don't think so, but depends on what you mean by diluted. It seems to me like the iPod brand is still quite strong.

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@Lantz

"If you want to say 4 by mentioning the Classic, well that's just a leftover from early days and doesn't really count. The Touch is the replacement for the Classic and represents the high end music player."

My wife has a 16GB Touch and absolutely loves it because she never had more than about 8-9GB of music on her old 120GB iPod, and the combination of wifi and decent browser means she can check her regular online haunts without having to lug her laptop all around the house with her.

Me, on the other hand... yeah, the PDA-ness of the Touch appeals to me, but I've already got a Touch that provides all my PDA needs, it just wears a HTC logo instead of an Apple one. And I've got roughly 120GB of stuff on my Classic with probably 10-15GB more waiting to be encoded/transferred off the PC, so the idea of even the 32GB Touch being a replacement for it really doesn't work for me. Now, if there was a Touch with at least 128GB of storage, for around 200 quid, then I'd be interested. Until then, the only replacement for the Classic is another Classic.

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@Jessica Werkz

"Did you learn nothing from reading that article?"

On the contrary, I think Will hit the nail on the head.

Apple are selling a single product concept - THE Jesus Phone/THE iPhone.

and @ Adam Starkey

The iPod is a different product entirely although part of the same brand family - Apple have been careful to keep this distinct in the eyes of the consumer. The similarity is in the Apple brand generic (like Hoover or Heinz) not the target of the product per se.

No, Apple will not bring out a family of iPhones with subtle distinction of functionality and size, they will be careful to maintain the distinctivity of the iPhone, although they will continue to upgrade their current offering of it. The main dstinction of the iPhone is the large handy touch display - making a small one makes it just another fancy phone.

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Erm...

"recall the tumbleweed that blew through empty stores when O2 and Carphone first launched the iPhone in the UK"

--well thats not true is it ?! it was covered in the news, queues of people outside most apple, o2 and carphone warehouse stores...

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Ted
Go

The iPhone camera is rather excellent...

Just a bit of a rant... I'm so tired of people that have never seen an image taken by an iPhone, but then go out of their way to complain about it... trust me, as the user of over 12 camera phones in the last 8 years... they are all CLUELESS.

Megapixels aren't nearly as important as the LENS... the iPhone is in the upper 90% of cell phones in this area, the images coming out of iPhones are far superior to most all cell phones. They only see "megapixels" and mistakenly think that is an indication of "quality"... which is untrue!

Wake up people, the iPhone produces better images than most all cell & smartphones... take a look at real images from any iPhone model:

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1321/688934336_3ffdbe4c7a.jpg

http://becksilverman.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/10/beckiphone.jpg

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2384/2081014579_706b0b5a93.jpg

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3538/3323138091_719be1b5e1.jpg

2MB does NOT equate to quality... learn how digital camera operate!

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Jobs Halo

Very good article

Though as with others I struggle with the question of whether or not more models of iPhone would dilute the brand. I can see both sides of the issue but at the end of the day I kind of have to come down on the side of slowly introducing at least a couple different models. I don't see it as a race to bottom edge of the market sector but simply expanding the available options and further generating "good will" so to speak among people who may at this time be on the fence. Lets face it they have more than proven (with the iPod being just one example) similar products with different features that speak to a specific market segment.

Now is there a risk that in doing so the dilution that many fear would occur and Apple would have to play catch up? Certainly, but if done carefully they could get some very good tests of those other waters while still protecting their main interests.

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jai
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re: @Yes, but

but how long did they take to dilute the ipod brand? there were many years were the only ipod was the form factor that we now refer as the "classic" model

and it's still only really 3 models - the Touch if anything is part of the iPhone brand, just with the pesky battery-draining phone options removed

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@Lantz

"the Classic, well that's just a leftover from early days and doesn't really count. The Touch is the replacement for the Classic and represents the high end music player."

So neither the Nano or the Touch offer storage capacities greater than 16GB, whereas the Classic offers 120GB, and in your world the Classic exists purely because someone at Apple forgot to remove it from this year's product line-up.

Don't be a pillock. The Classic will be around at least until the Touch can reach 64GB at an acceptable price point, and even then, it'll likely still have a place in the market. It exists, because it fulfills a need that none of the other iPods can. So, yeah, there are *four* products in the iPod line, all of which are very different, and are marketed in very different ways.

Anyway, what was your actual point again?

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One model makes sense

Because Apple just have to brand 'iPhone'. Their latest campaign is about the number of apps:

'only on iPhone'

Adding new models implies that some apps won't work on some models or won't offer the full range of functionality - and that's a way of pissing people off.

Sony Ericsson, whilst they're still with us, constantly has to struggle to tell customers the differences between its nigh on indistinguishable and bafflingly named phones. They've already lost the marketing war.

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But I want a mobile phone

Nobody tells me if it is a good 'PHONE what is the reception like? Can one hear clearly? Does it ring/vibrate loudly/hard enough to be heard/felt on a noisy tram? The battery of my simple Nokia (3.2M camera, alarm, calendar, good SMS/MMS) lasts for nearly a week of light, daily use and still for two or three days of really heavy use, including travelling (I notice that travelling by train or car drains the battery, presumably because the 'phone is working hard to keep a signal as it changes cells). It looks decent too and is genuinely small enough not to look like a teaplate against the ear.

In other words: I want a powerful telephone, with good message sending/receiving, decent alarm/calendar, loud ring and, really important, long battery life for those logn weekends away when I really do not want to carry a charger. A decent camera is a definite "nice to have". Oh, it should be small enough not to compete for space with all the other things one has to carry in one's pockets nowadays and robust enough to survive the usual drops, knocks and crushes of real life.

So, much as I like Apple computers (I've got one, Death to all Windows), tell me, can the iPhone compete with a cheap, simple Nokia for that lot? Or is it really only for the man/woman wearing a jacket/handbag and being very careful not to lean against the bar, crushing the device nicely? And if it is running a form of OS X, why can it not do multi-tasking? Has it managed to learn British English or Swiss German or are we still expected to become American? (my biggest gripe against Apple computers).

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Complete agreement

"Basically Apple is keeping it simple because their target audience is simple."

Exactly right - which is why I LOVE my iPhone!

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re: gasp

I remember it Andrew, and agree with pretty much everything you've had to say.

But you can understand my surprise given some of the other articles that just pan it :-)

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/18/iphone_version_3/ I'm sure there are others if I could be @rsed to find them

Agreed Mail is slow. I've found proxying everything over VPN works rather well due to the inherent compression that comes with it (and I have a funny feeling the DNS servers leave a lot to be desired with O2, causing most of the slow down).

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So does this mean....

...that El Reg will stop trumpeting every new phone, mp3 player, craptop, lawnmower and food processor as being the next 'Apple *[insert product here] Killer'?

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Anonymous Coward

Mental Sheep

The author excellently explains in the first half of the article how the Apple iPhone does things the right/Apple way, and dominates the market. This way of business is the complete opposite of what the other companies were doing.

In the second half the author reverts to a mental sheep, going baa, baa, but Apple HAS to do things the way the looser companies did it to stay ahead.

Apple will do business the way it is doing it now. The iPhone will only get better, it will not splinter into 20 different devices.

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This is entirely correct.

"In their wisdom networks have done all kind of similar things over the years - disabling Wi-Fi, for example, or blocking ports. But most of all in their pricing policies for data."

Every potentially interesting phone manufactured is locked down in a stroke of brilliance by the networks. I wanted to develop MidP Bluetooth applications to control a home automation server via bluetooth, the Nokia SDK had support for it. The kicker was that Cingular disabled all 3rd party MidP functionality of the phone including letting the user run his own Bluetooth apps. I've seen networks sell phones with disabled WiFi also.

For a decade the networks have routinely blocked all innovative potential because they wanted to control innovation, as a result, innovation was stamped out.

Apple came along and produced a phone where it appeared to be innovative, but in reality it was simply unencumbered by many of the restrictions networks placed on other phones. Apple definitely benefits from being a status symbol and can charge 70% more for that reason, but their true innovation is embracing third party development with their iphone store. Although personally I am still extremely disappointed that the iphone must be jailbroken to install any apps by oneself. This control Apple reserved for itself is an obvious avenue for someone to come along and sell an even "more innovative" phone.

The bottom line, sell a phone that is open and innovation will follow as it did with the PC/internet. This is what people want and as apple has demonstrated, are willing to pay for.

All I hope is that their success convinces everyone else to overturn decades of bad decisions.

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Why?

Dilution of the brand should be secondary to dilution of purpose. I'm more likely to spend an extra £50 on a phone if it has a very good camera/screen etc.. Making a version with a shoddy camera just infuriates people as if they wanted something with good EVERYTHING, they cannot get it in one device.

HTC need to learn this lesson with their cameras.

iPhone Nano is where they'll go, everyone loves things that do the same as X but in half the size.

If they really want to to be fancy they could stick a mini projector in it for when you want to watch films or run size-dependant iPhone apps but the screen is too small.

Still wouldn't buy one myself, but undoubtedly the iPhone hugely publicising touchscreen tech and making it available is a factor in it's success, you think it would have been as popular with a normal keypad and screen? Add to that an existing fanbase for Macs and you've got yourself a free, frenzied word-of-mouth ad campaign.

I liked this article as it answers the question I raised the other day to a friend, why did they stop the fold-out keyboard (n-gage-esque) designs? My friend had one and it was flimsy but showed potential.

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Stop

there are going to be new iphones

Anyone else see the news that there are codes for iphone 2,1 and Ipod 3,0 in the in the latest software relesae? given that the current ipone is 1,2 this leads to the idea that there will be atleast 2 whole revisions of the iphone... most likely a 'nano' as the accessories are already being made for it and will be intended for China and probably a more 'pro' edition as described.

Appealing to larger segments of the (still all top part of the) market is pretty simple business sense.

With S60- The general impression I get is that people always loved Nokias as the interface was rock-solid and super fast (in comparisson to all the other older OSs). Dont discount the want for simple but works over flashy and never gonna use.

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Flame

For a tenner?!

I'm amazed. In Germany, you get 200MB HSDPA for €25. If you want flat data, you're looking at €45 minimum and you'll still pay through the nose for most calls & texts unless for some reason all your contacts like to get shafted by T-Mobile too.

@ Ted: 100% ACK. One can take very decent snaps with the iPhone.

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So that's the problem

"So the classic technique for a successful manufacturer is to differentiate"

Ah, I wondered why I've been waiting a decade for a single device that does everything I need, despite there being no technical barriers whatsoever to its inception. I guess I'll just have to stick with my 5 year old Sony Ericsson a while longer.

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Nice analysis

Yes, some people buy Apple to be "cool" but to let that obscure the actual innovation they do, I always find to be amusing. They've managed to do the impossible: design products that appeal to users that minimize/quit every app before using another (and view in a full-screen window), AND technophiles...

(I guess everyone doesn't have to dig it, but at least give Apple credit for fighting back at a recidivist monopolist and creating/upending a whole new segment.)

@Andy: haha. I was thinking the same thing...El Reg may actually get invited to an Apple event -- as long as they don't allow Bill Ray to post another snide, childish, pointless article following the next update. Whoops, spoke too soon.

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/18/iphone_version_3/

@Ted: Good point about the camera quality. It's limited, but can take great photos in many popular use-cases, as seen on Flickr. Great geo-tagging too. ;)

@Andrew: Great analysis. I think too many have avoided mentioning what an earthquake Apple has caused with its iPhone and business model.

Fred Vogelstein at Wired, I think was also early in describing what has happened.

http://www.wired.com/gadgets/wireless/magazine/16-02/ff_iphone

---

Whatever is in the future, Apple do not seem to be letting up in continuing to kick everyone else down the street...in the most professionally humiliating and public way, I can imagine.

I mean, come on, if you're a product manager or VP or President, of a handset company or network operator, how have you been looking in the mirror after January 2007 or June? Designing sad, me-too, single-touch (not multi-touch) devices that crash or don't do anything new or better or easier?

All the whining I read about specific features or voice memos or MMS or group delete, cut/paste, tethering, turn-by-turn, or whatever is laughable. Yes, these are important features if you're used to them on your old POS handset. But, guess what?? Next software update...done, or the next; or get a new app; same hardware; for free -- app, may not be free; and try to continue justifying to yourself to not get one.

(Having said that, Andrew's point about email acct switching can be improved. I'm sure they'll just add a new config to double-click or triple-click the Home button and it'll auto-switch...possibilities are endless. I'm roaming in Brasil now, and if I do many tasks quickly, being on a roaming network -- not wifi -- seems to lag the iPhone OS sometimes...nothing a dual-core iPhone with PA Semi input and better network code won't fix.)

My sense is other device manufacturers will heed this vision: cameras, autos, appliances, TVs, DVRs, anything with software will now become upgradeable. This old, stupid idea of planned hardware obsolescence was polluting and wasteful and expensive and is now finally, dead, I think.

@Peter: Cool app, Tap Forms. This kind of software differentiation will drive iPhone further, I think (and Android). Hardware differentiation will be seen when the PA Semi chip and GPU multi-core code is added this June or next.

--

Will be interesting to see how Palm Pre and Android is received. (WinMobile, I see no hope, except who they pay off with "marketing assistance" -- LiMo, Android, Symbian, Blackberry we'll see.) But if it's only a "web phone" with no iTunes counterpart, it will be a different animal and maybe a smart side-step to not go head-on.

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What I took away from this article ...

... is the message that contract phones are killing innovation and are bad for the consumer. Not only do they get shafted with high rates, they also get bad phones. Operators have no interest in providing functional phones to customers, instead they make sure all unapproved applications are removed (see Skype story here on the Reg).

FWIW in Finland bundling phones with contracts was not permitted before April 2006. The legislation only applies to 3G phones, the purpose being to promote the adoption of new tech. Small telco DNA Finland were reportedly unhappy as allowing contract phones stifles competition and raises the price of calls. Consumers take heed.

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RDW
Happy

Hmm...

"--well thats not true is it ?! it was covered in the news, queues of people outside most apple, o2 and carphone warehouse stores..."

Yes, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia!

'that story about NASA's pen and the Russian's pencil is an urban myth....a pencil wasn't allowed in case the lead broke off and got stuck in an air duct or something...'

They actually carried on using pencils (and felt tips) alongside the Fisher pens:

http://www.thespacereview.com/archive/613d.pdf

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It's Symbian that holds Nokia back

It's Symbian, the royal junk OS for mobile devices, it was designed badly for really low end devices over 10 years ago and has all sorts of incredible stupidities when you develop for it; developing for Symbian is horrible, painful and buggy; you only do it becuase you get paid, compounding this is that ports to and from Symbian often entail a significat rewrite... if/when Nokia dumps Symbian from their line, they will be comptetive for 3rd party developers (in contrast their propietary OS, ISA for S40 phones although simple and limited is much, much easier to write for). When Symbian dies, the world of mobile phones will be a much, much better place: easier to develop for, more reliability and actually faster at the end of the day {Symbian's "optimzations" often slow you down because of the convulted programming one does to just write to a string.}

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