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 …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Bad for corporates, but some good apps

    Quote: "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 inability to run multiple processes means that you don't actually need to run any kind of security application! If the apps are sandboxed from all other apps as they are on the iPhone, then any virus would be too. In other words, all a virus could do is run itself and that is it. It couldn't harvest data from another app. It couldn't inject itself into another app. Etc. No one is going to bother cooking up a virus for a device when all it would be able to do is absolutely bugger all. Ironically, it is if and when the iPhone OS is able to run background tasks etc. that this will become a problem. At the moment, its absence is a huge security win by default.

    In contrast, however, the lack of device level encryption... that is a problem for security and business deployment. Hopefully this is a nugget that didn't make it into the preview, but will be in OS 3.0 when it is released.

    Fwiw, you *can* remotely wipe iPhones to kill them.

  2. Herbert Barry

    Apple doesn't have to, nor should it, bow to Adobe

    This is a discussion of the need to let Adobe, and their practices regarding Flash, die a quiet death. Let Apple do what they're doing, and there's going to be a lot more competition and quality in all kinds of different tech areas. This is just one big one.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    @P J the cheap nokis user

    Your comment makes no sense you jut want a phone that does the job as a phone and no more so you use a cheap Nokia. Great, you should start drinking American beer as well because it does the basic job well but has nothing else going for it. The iPhone is like a well crafted homebrew that leaves the commercial offerings in the dust but only appeals to a small minority of the masses who prefer the megaswill offerings of the local shop. Get pissed and be happy but so not cove thy neighbours lovely pint of lovingly craft brewed beer. That or wait for the other commercials to offer kits of tin can brew and dump in a kilo of sugar and think you get smething lovingly crafts when instead you end up with a cidery beer with an omnipresent hint of skunk in the background no matter how much you try to make yourself enjoy it.

  4. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    @Ted, I'm convinced

    That the iPhone camera is good, for the reasons stated. The photos have great resolution and sharpness, good dynamic range and exposure as well. I'm a luddite when it comes to cameras, I'm still shooting Velvia on a Canon A1 (manual focus, does have a battery, for the meter), because I care about stuff like that. And I shoot things that generally sit still and I'm good at focusing and depth of field. I'm also something of a control freak.

  5. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo

    One problem ...

    Who says Apple wants to dominate or control the market?

    As far as I can see, they want a share of the people who can afford high-quality, higher profit-margin goods. Let the market take care of the rest.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    The real reasons the iPhone's been a hit

    Forgive the hubris :) I liked the article, and would like to see more in-depth on exactly why the mobile market (esp in the US) is so twisted --locked phones, weird carrier antics and so on.

    I think there are several reasons for the iPhone's success. Very few of them are technical.

    1. Apple paid serious attention to design. I'm not talking about the UI here, but about the metal and plastic stuff. There is a school of commercial design called "small objects of desire" going back 70 years, and Apple made sure they followed it. This isn't the place to witter on about design but take a look at old cigarette cases, fountain pens, lighters, ipods etc etc. Notice the similarities? Smooth textures, metallic silver finishes, never larger than 5x4" or smaller than 2x2; these are all design standards that have been proven over a long time to appeal to men and women. (Aside: Women were a hitherto neglected market: go into your local starbucks and see how many women carry blackberries and blackjacks vs iphones. Moreover. they're not stupid: the LG Prada phone attempts to follow the small-objects pattern but shoppers can recognize the difference between pointless bling and a genuinely well-crafted device.)

    2. The UI is 'good enough'. Not the finest, not the fastest, but very clear to read, and having that big screen was a game changer. It subconsciously confirms that It's Official - Phones Are Now Little Computers. But see #3 below.

    3. Perhaps most important. People can make money with an iPhone. Call this the Ballmer theory of developer economics. The AppStore and the dev environment was an inspired piece of business from Apple. Now the market decides what people want and Apple profit. Much like Microsoft did in the 90s. (I am old enough to remember when ads for Windows touted how many applications were available for it - remember "over 1200 applications run on Windows 3.0"? After a few years, MS didn't need to say that any more. Neither do Apple.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Analysis.. not at all

    jeezuz, make up you mind if you want to be a reporter, agitator or an advertorialist when you grow up. Your point is...

    It seems that the technorrhea 2.0 hive mind notion of what analysis is porking up unending cross-atlantic PR shrieking that a shined-up Palm Tungsten will rule consumer communication, that shitloads of people have it and that shitloads more people will want it forever.

    This phone is WAP 2.0 - the reason why network operators like it. What makes this arrangement between network operator and manufacturer any different from its predecessors? Are carrier exclusivity, walled gardens, blah blah new and wizzo ideas? Have Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson not been there some years ago? The rest of the world is not resurrecting the WAP corpse because it’s crap. The rest of the world is moving to a phone separate from a SIM card. A tarted up WAP 2.0 Sony Clie can’t cope with that.

    And please, its success is circumscribed.

    Other than dainty men with a liking for greasy earprints (and their grannies) there don’t seem to be that many people who can cope with the embarrassment of holding up a shiny spade to their ears.

  8. R Cox

    The Performa

    This advice is very similar to the advice that lead to the Mac Zoo of the early and mid 90's. In my opinion, this excess of hardware lead to a lack of focus on quality and a lack of development in the software. Apple forgot it was a systems builder, not just a outfit that stuck parts together and then slapped in an OS. Computers like the performa did allow more people to buy the computer, but did not increase long term market share.

    What happened was that apple just began putting computers together to meet a price point, rather than building systems that met consumers needs. For instance, my newton was a wonderful computer, but it was not integrated as system with the mac. The palm was, so even though palm was an inferior machine, I eventually traded my newton for a palm V.

    So no, apple does not have to serve every segment of the phone market, any more than it has to serve every segment of the computer market. What it has to do is design software, and keep hardware costs down, so people who want a systen, rather than a random collection of parts, will pay the markup.

  9. Anonymous Coward


    What a blatant iPhone-fan article...

    If you want to advertise, be less obvious PLEASE.

    Though there was many interesting tidbits about the market etc.

    But the main article itself has an angle that only a blind would not see.

    (icon related)

  10. Matthew

    @ Ted the Moron

    Of course Mega pixiles are a indication of quality you retard - if you had a *really good lens* and a 1mp camera then you're never going to harness the full potential of the lens are you? You need BOTH. I.E, a K series SE. Oh and the iphone Camera sucks balls anyway compared to other phones in the price range.

    Great article by the way!

  11. go


    Seriously? .... "ditch the highly developed and well understood Symbian OS and back the completely unknown quantity that is Android instead."

    I MEAN SERIOUSLY!!! What is wrong with people? jesus christ, you can't flog a dead horse (OK you can, but it's no fun) Symbian is DEAD give the fucker up! It's had it's day, it's slow, crappy and needs to be put to rest along with all the other OLD stuff that just needs to be moved on, seriously It's time for some new stuff to get put into the mix, this historical thinking is the same reason I have to waste my life fixing crappy NT4 boxes that still exist because the world just can't accept that things move on, technology changes, it might not be perfect but it moves on.....

    Hopefully motorola will give Apple a run for it's money, I mean, I own an iphone, and I love it, but Ir eally want someone to challenge apple so they actually do something interesting with the iphone, at the moment they are sat gently sipping coffee enjoying life because they know they have a great product and nobody seems to be able to touch it...So please phone manufacturers of the world listen up, GET A MOVE ON, don't invent the new iphone invent the next new thing! At least that way apple will get off their arses and won't take two years to release the OS the iPhone always should of had!

  12. go

    Oh and....

    If you want a decent camera then get a *ucking camera, go buy yourself an SLR and learn how to use it, don't point some crappy phone at something and act all suprised when the photo's look "a little bit shit"

    Phone cameras are for a few things:

    a) Capturing drunken moments displaying your increadible skills

    b) Capturing drunken moments of friends who would rather not see the photo on facebook

    c) Capturing non drunken moments that you really don't care about but are going to rpovide slight levels of humor.

    It's a fucking phone, and that's what I like about the iphone, it's a good PHONE first and an average camera second...

  13. Steve Evans


    ""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..."

    Really... Odd because I took advantage of their late opening to park (free after 6) in my local town, walk into the O2 shop and buy another microSD card for my Nokia... There were more staff than customers in the store, and I would have been in and gone in 2 minutes if all the till staff weren't trying to resolve a problem with an iPhone registration!

  14. Dipika

    Networks aren't a global problem

    The mobile phone networks don't dictate terms everywhere in the world. In India, the buying process is: 1. buy phone from whichever manufacturer you want. 2. Choose network provider/Use existing. Ofcourse Prepaid accounts have always been more popular.

    So I always find the American/UK situation quaintly messed up, cause I have both the network and manufacturers falling over themselves to get me as a customer. Nokia rules here BTW and its low-end phones are easy to use with good battery life.

    In this situation, Apple has gone ahead and tethered itself to postpaid accounts of two networks. The price doesnt seem subsidized to the least (even that's an alien concept here) and the handset is mostly available in the network's showrooms. Apple has made it hard for people, who pay that much for high-end Nokia handsets anyway, to buy the damn iPhone. So most people I know buy the prison-breaked version from the black market. Way to go Apple, for complicating things!

  15. F1reman

    you can't keep a good product down. GEM OS?

    @ Andrew O

    I hope they don't introduce a keyboard because in my view it would make the phone far too chunky.

    What is it that you don't like about the software keyboard Andrew O?

    @ Andrew Thomas and other non-believers

    To be honest son I've never much liked my previous phones such as the N82, K750 and E70 because they always stood out a mile in my pocket. Such smart phones were really annoying for us blokes who wanted a decent phone but who don't condone the use of handbags. I tried a neck strap but just too chunky again.

    my Iphone is slim. I'll repeat: SLIM. With a curved back. What this means is that it does not stick out so much as a phone half it's size in width and height but double it's depth.

    @ Andrew O re E70.

    Yep, I gave my E70 to my gf and do you know what? She fecking loves it. She's always texting and that fold out keyboard is ultimate for this girl. And it fits in her normal handbags.

    @ GhilleDhu

    @ Ted

    @ Bad Beaver

    Yep, the camera is woeful. For that reason alone I miss my N82. And my K750. No actually wait....the Apple is about as bad as the k750, which was amazing when it first came out...5 years ago!! Come on Apple, produce the goods on the camera hardware. Der.

    It's not about megapixels Ted and no-one said it was. I've no image stabilisationa and there is tons of noise in a dark pub. So in a dark pub/club/bar/restaurant (which is where I tend to use camera phones) I get blue lines and a fuzzy image that needs a flash and image stab.

    Then, in the park on Sunday, I have to get everyone to 'hold still' for 5 seconds. usually the 5th attempt comes out alright. And that's in bright sunlight. OK so the App "night camera" helps with these problems but please, the N82 kicked ass.

    Guys, if you know of something to cancel out the noise and blur please let me know.

    @ Jez Caudle


    @ Andrew O

    there's no point to an iphone nano because then the screen will be too small. Unless they do Tocco I suppose, which is a great little phone. Hmm. Maybe they will and then they satisfy the small phone addicts.

    Interesting fact. iPhone came second to HTC Touch HD in battery life test on PC Pro tests. At least 10 smart phones tested so it seems iPhone battery life is actually better than most other smart phones. wierd.

    For business users they need to compete with Blackberry and so until they introduce central control and market leading security features Apple are going to be left out in the cold.

    @ Gene Feierstein


  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not strictly true

    Tethering has been prevented by the phone networks. It's in the 3.0 version of iPhone OS but it doesn't appear if your network operator declines use of it.

  17. Dr Raymond Cocteau

    The factual version of the space pen story

    The Russians used a pencil - not ideal because of the dannger of bits of conductive lead flying about.

    The space pen guy spent millions of *his companies* money developing the space pen. NASA paid pretty much the counter price for them. Then he made a fortune selling "The pen used by NASA".

    These pens are now standard for use in space. The Russians use them as well.

    Pretty much a parable of how free market capitalism *can* work.

  18. P. J. Isserlis
    IT Angle

    @AC the cheap nokia user

    I understand why you stay anonymous: I never said these things are all one wants. I want these things at a minimum. I know a couple of people who have got an iPhone for when they can carry it and want to show off 'photos (down loaded after being taken on a camera) or emptying beer glass pictures. But they keep a Nokia or equivalent for general use: telephone calls, SMS etc. and smaller size, greater robustness all the time.

    So, again, I just notice that a lack of comments that the iPhone (note the "phone" in the name) is good or bad at its basic role, making or receiving calls and (basic in a mobile), SMS and MMS handling as good as other models, nor much about the current battery life. This is not to say that it may not be wonderful at all these things; but as they seem to be ignored, I wonder.

    Of course, as a gadget, it is great. But beware, the designers may drink American beer and even be American (hence some of the early lacks as USA usage and experience differ from that in Europe, perhaps).

    So, again, how good is it as a mobile 'phone, especially for those of us not always wearing jackets, baggy trousers with big pockets or carrying handbags and always near a power socket and carrying a charger, but still want a good 'phone with some smart-phone extras that can withstand the knocks and weather of daily life (and for the price, for a significant time)?

  19. c

    Pays to be late?

    Am I missing something here? The iPhone in all its incarnations has sold 17M devices in 2 years or so. That is an absolute piddling number. Nokiafor instance ship that many devices a MONTH and Samsung not much less a month.

  20. Throatwobbler Mangrove


    ". (Aside: Women were a hitherto neglected market: go into your local starbucks and see how many women carry blackberries and blackjacks vs iphones. Moreover. they're not stupid: the LG Prada phone attempts to follow the small-objects pattern but shoppers can recognize the difference between pointless bling and a genuinely well-crafted devic"

    I'm not exactly sure what point you are trying to make (are you saying that women prefer "flashy" iPhones to "dorky" technical devices?) and I am obviously no statistical guide, but of all the iPhone owners I know, 100% of them are men, and 100% of the BlackBerry owners I know are women. So...where were we again?

  21. Wayland Sothcott Bronze badge

    @ Ted

    Someone said you were a moron for saying that megapixels were not important. I get what you mean. Apple are smart enough to craft a complete device. A well made device is not the sum of the parts it's more the multiplication of the parts.

    Examining the parts you might say, oh not enough megapixels, well actually there are enough but then lens complements the camera too.

    Lack of multiprocessing in some ways could be an advantage too, it requires less CPU power.

    I think apple are right not to make lots of models. However they should allow the phone to be used on your choice of network. O2 is not suitable for all areas.

  22. David Edwards

    @Go.... CAMERAS are not for drunks

    I know some people think that phone cameras are only for taking pictures of drunken mates and snaps for your photo phone book, but you are wrong.

    In a business context they are good for.

    Taking pictures of whiteboards and flipcharts after meetings

    Taking pictures of thinks like cable configs, pipes, or other enigineering stuff

    Taking photos of documents for OCR (Evernote does serverside OCR thats good, shame the iPhone camera lets it down)

    Taking phots of rooms/sites etc

    Now obviously I could carry my camera round all the time, but why? when decent camers can be built into phones. I swapped my N95 for an iphone and the camera capability is the only thing I miss.

  23. Dan Wilkinson


    There is a finite size in which to squeeze in your megapixels. I've seen 12mp phones advertised, although these haven't exactly been what I would call "slim". But for a more direct comparison a lot of the competition seem to be hovering around the 6mp area.

    There is an interesting argument to be had about the quantity v quality debate when it comes to increasing the amount of pixels you cram into your lens. Without moving to larger form factors than a slim phone, the rule of thumb is that clearly having too few pixels gives a poorer picture. But this doesn't tell the whole story. Cram in too many, and you start to have to reduce the size of them, leading to each pixel letting in less light, and as such producing poorer results. Bigger filesize, larger image, poorer quality overall.

    Now obviously there is a happy medium inbetween, one that balances everything from the size requirements, the speed at which the captured picture can be written to flash (again, more pixels = slower), even the amount of JPEG compression used to keep both the kilobytes down and the time taken to write it.

    I reckon that having a lesser resolution high quality lens/CMOS etc, that doesn't need to compress the image when it saves it, is going to produce a similar overall "quality" of image to a camera with more lower quality pixels and associated compression...ESPECIALLY when you consider what the intended usage of the photo will be - and let's face it most pictures taken on digital devices are only ever viewed on other digital devices. I really can't see the point in having massive photos that will have one of three things happen to it:

    1) It stays in a folder, and you view it downscaled to fit a maximised monitor on your PC/Mac. Let's be generous and say you have a full HD 1900x1080 display. That'll be 2.1 megapixels then...

    2) You stick it on Flickr/Facebook - after downscaling it to 800x600

    3) You print it. Chances are you will print it at 6x4 inches, at which 2mp is sufficient.

    Don't be fooled by the megapixel scam - it's like the Mhz wars of years ago. More is not ALWAYS better, unless you are using a full size form factor. In smaller portable packages more can be less.

    I'm sure Apple did plenty of actuall testing and analysis and tried numerous lens/CMOS combinations, before settling on the one that produced the best overall package for the camera given it's brief. Clearly there is no technical engineering reason why they couldn't wang a 10mp monster in there, but what does it gain them? Just bragging rights, and if they wanted to compete on the more is better front, they wouldn't do that and then leave out other features like MMS etc. They aren't competing on spec sheets, like many other manufacturers, they are competing on the overall experience.

    I'm happy with the camera for what I use it for, I'm sure the next hardware revision will have a higher megapixel camera in it, but it will also I'm sure be done for quality reasons, not marketing. I also bet it will still be less than 5mp. Personally, I'd rather see them throw in autofocus...

  24. Anonymous Coward

    Camera - megapixels, lens and sensor

    The size of the sensor is also important, and this is constrained by the size of the actual device. See

    I'd like a better camera in the iPhone too, but 2 megapixels is fine. Unless you're cropping your photos later on, there's not much point in having anything that produces a resolution higher than a HD TV can display - how many people are going to display their photos on a device with a resolution higher than 1920x1080 anyway? The extra pixels in the photo are just wasted as far as I can see. Sure, there's the odd person who look at their photos on a computer screen that displays a higher resolution, but that's pretty rare.

  25. F1reman

    Go El Reg - Down with Apple yeah!

    Actually it does make a refreshing change that at least one online source is not willing to kowtow to Apple. I think it's quite funny that Register does not get invited to Apple hype events. At least I can trust them to be objective when it comes to Apple.

    With regards to cameras. The iphone camera is rubbish for me and it's me that counts to me.

    I don't know if it's is because of a lack of auto-stab, auto-focus, no flash, software or whatever. Fact is I try to take a photo at night forget it. And during the day the picture needs to be of a statue or it's blurred.

    I accept that not everyone wants to take pictures of people, and for them I'm happy, but for the folks like me who like to take quick snaps of animate objects it's no good. 5 years ago fair enough. But now a days I don't see the excuse.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Throatwobbler Mangrove

    TM, my point was that people like things that are physically well-designed. The iPhone, because it hooks into people's subconscious view of what a small desirable object looks like, comes across as "well-designed". In doing so it breaks the link between having a sophisticated phone and being a geek. Which from Apple's point of view was always going to be essential if the handset was to achieve mass penetration in the marketplace.

  27. Kenneth Trueman
    Thumb Up

    iPhone is more than hardware or the OS

    I thought it was a great article. Only part where you lost me is at the end. The typical carrier and handset provider approach is that it is about the hardware. A focus on hardware resulted in multiple SKUs, many of which were essentially cheap knock-offs of better products (Nokia is guilty here of producing lousy low-end handsets that damage its brand)

    Best case to date, some interest in the software (Symbian, Android, etc.)

    However, both views miss the point of what sets the iPhone apart. It is the client software that sets the iPhone apart. It is the applications that you download on the hardware and the OS that are the real difference. They are also what allow you to create a unique experience for each and every iPhone owner. For sure, you need to cover some basics like a camera, etc., but once you have those, you run out of HW features to add... iPhone enables a form of market segmentation via a personalized software experience.

  28. Elrond Hubbard

    It always pays to be late

    "First mover advantage" is a myth. The market nearly always belongs to the company that stood back, watched things develop and then produced something that answered customer issues with earlier products.

    There are few exceptions to this rule; when people name a first mover who they think is still the market leader, it usually turns out that the real first mover was so totally and utterly destroyed that hardly anyone remembers them. (Remember Garrett AiResearch, everyone? It was they, not Intel, who produced the first microcontroller. Intel wasn't even second, Texas Instruments was.)


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