about a big Apple-related event at EMI Music this morning, and without more advance notice than that, we found out today that EMI Music will be selling DRM-free superior sound quality downloads across its entire digital repertoire, starting in May. I doubted that Apple would ever sell DRM-free music alongside regular, but it’s obvious now that the two-fer – no DRM and improved sound quality – sets a high enough bar for Apple to do this in ITMS. I suppose it’s important that the distinction be greater than just DRM/No-DRM (or price).
Well the iPhone announcement was almost a week ago, and there is lots of speculation, both positive and negative, about what this will mean for the mobile phone environment.
As far as the timing of the announcement, I think it was totally appropriate for Apple to be able to announce its own product ahead of all of the public filings to the FCC and others. So for me that’s not a big deal at all.
In terms of whether it will perform as billed – I think people are giving Apple a great deal of benefit of any doubt based on their past performance in interface design. Remember when the iPod was announced most people went, “uh, so what?” because there were already dozens of MP3 players on the market. The execution of Apple’s version, though, changed everything, quite literally.
In the phone world, Jobs is right that the interfaces are pretty bad. I love my Treo and all, but I can think of dozens of ways that it falls short of anything close to ideal. If Apple can execute in the phone world even half as well as they have in the music world, then I think it will be a big success and a big advancement on anything available now – even with roughly identical or even inferior specifications.
The “walled garden” aspect of it, though, is a huge problem, and I think it puts any human interface wins in peril.
The Blackberry is the closest analogue, I think. It’s more or less a walled garden (as I understand things), but it does one thing – email – exceptionally well. And so it has been a success – but is it’s success even half of what it would have been were it a more open platform? 10%?
On the other side of things, you have the Palm Treo platform. The smart-asses are right – the Palm OS is a joke! But it’s a joke with thousands and thousands of applications available, and custom applications can be developed on a whim by any organization because it’s really simple to develop for the Palm. So in spite of everything – questionable battery life, a lack of innovation in the past 4 years, a very old-fashioned OS – it’s still the leader in the marketplace. And in some domains, you’re pretty much tied to Palm because all of the development has been there – like medicine.
I guarantee that if we got a group of any 10 readers of this site together for half a day, we could come up with 10 innovative applications that use the iPhone system in really really great ways – that Apple alone will never come up with, let alone release. NOT taking advantage of that could be a huge problem for Apple unless they do open it up as a development platform.
I predict that the iPhone will launch as a closed platform, but I would be surprised if there weren’t an announcement soon – when’s the next WWDC? – about development access. The program will probably still be pretty restrictive, but I don’t think Apple’s so out of touch that they really believe they can do everything on their own.
a how-do-you-do during today’s Apple presentation, but the new AirPort Extreme Base Station is probably the thing that I’m most excited about. Put the thing in a closet with my DSL modem, a USB 2 hub, a couple big USB HDs and my printer and suddenly the promise of a truly unwired office is a reality. My desk has no wires except for power, and I don’t have to give up outboard storage or printing to get it. And I can do my daily backup from my couch – I don’t have to go upstairs, plug in to the hub and then start my backup script.
featuring Steve Jobs and a bunch of new Apple stuff is set to go in just under an hour, and for a few weeks now we’ve (we = people who enjoy Apple watching and the company’s products) been besieged by dozens of predictions. Jason Fried’s Apple Phone: My prediction in SvN and of course John Gruber’s predictions at Daring Fireball are pretty much the best of the bunch.
I’m not a professional Apple watcher like the others, but for my part I agree most with Fried’s prediction on the phone – and the iPod announcement is a good precedent to remember. The thing to remember about Apple is that their new products, when announced, often seem anti-climactic. Revisionist history posits that the iPod was a huge announcement, but I remember when it came out people were very underwhelmed – “what, is that it, an MP3 player?”
That’s not to say I don’t wish for, as Gruber puts it, “not an iPod phone, but rather introduces a new mobile device OS.” But that doesn’t seem to be how Apple does things – it may become that eventually, but it will take time for that to become obvious to most.
Update – Nevermind! I have only read about half of the features and it’s already clearly a much bigger deal than I anticipated.