Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How revolutionary is the iPhone? Let's count the camps

There are several camps of thought on the revolutionary capabilities of the iPhone.

1. The first camp is of the true believers who say that the killer app. is the phone itself, which is simple to use (has only one button to reach home screen), has a fast response unlike other phones that are slowed down by ‘bloatware’.

This camp constitutes the core fan group of the Apple brand and is willing to forgive Apple for choosing a carrier with slow speeds, not allowing any Keyboard add-on, and no memory card expansion slots either– simplicity at times can be blinding.

2. The second camp believes that mere hard disk space and Safari web browser do not a revolution make – with the in-built hard disk, you can use the Safari browser on your browser to download ringtones and other mobile content without having to use the mobile operator’s gateway.

However, all this depends upon the success of the Safari browser beyond the Apple platform – can it be a Firefox?

The operators’ walled garden will be a one to break through.

3. Camp #3 is excited that the announced iPhone Web kit framework, which allows developers to develop Web 2.0/ajax applications for the iPhone, through the Safari browser.

4. However, Camp #4 that was expecting full-fledged SDK kit from Apple, which is not the case till now. As Gizmodo says, ‘the iPhone's potential as an amazing computing and communication platform will never be realized. And because of this and no matter how Apple tries to sell it, the iPhone won't make a revolution happen’.

5. Which brings to Camp #5, which believes in true independence – freedom from the vagaries of the mobile operators’ jail-like system that is suffocating the truly liberating spirit of mobile communications in the United States and beyond.

A: The Wireless operators control the software on your phone. The nifty new phone you just bought has no use if the operator doesn’t support it. Try taking your address book, ringtones, music, video from your mobile phone to other device and you will agree it is a painful process, putting it mildly.

B: The only third party players the operators allow are the content producers, the operators hoping to extract every penny out of the system.

C: A full-fledged SDK would enable developers to add new functionalities to the phone.

Think VoIP, Wimax, P2P data transfer.

People are waiting for the day when the mobile phone is as hackable and open-ended as the net-connected PCs of today.

The hopes of this camp are with the hobbyists who will hack away at the iPhone anyway, making their their own mini-apps.

Short of anything revolutionary, but a start nonetheless.
That is what I also think about the iPhone.

A roundup of Mobile phone, iPhone and revolution articles can be found here.



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