The WWDC 2008 keynote has come and gone, and much like the Macworld Keynote of 2007, it was all about the iPhone. “Snow Leopard” was referenced, but not discussed in the keynote, instead being covered in the NDA bound Mac OS X State of the Union later in the day.
By now you’ve read the coverage of the iPhone 3G, Mobile Me, and iPhone 2.0 Firmware. Here’s my thoughts on the news.
First, the iPhone 3G is going to become the new gold standard for mobile devices. About the only thing missing from the new iPhone that I was hoping for is a better camera. I guess they needed to save something for the next iteration. With a speedy network to ride on, the best mobile browsing experience just got better. The new additions to the iPhone 2.0 firmware look great. Of course, as always, there’s things to nitpick over. So here’s the nitpick list.
Although you get Exchange support in iPhone 2.0 if you subscribe to a business plan, which (you guessed it) will cost you $45/month for unlimited data (versus $30 for the new unlimited 3G data plan, a $10 increase over the 2G price). While I’d like to fault AT&T for this one, I suspect the extra $15 also helps Apple defer the cost of the Exchange license they pay Microsoft.
Next (and more distressing) is the requirement that all iPhones must be activated in store. This one is a bit more murky, as AT&T says in their press release that iTunes activation for the iPhone 3G is not possible. However, in another release, it is stated that you will be able to activate your phone when you get home if you like through iTunes if you buy from the Apple Store. This was one of the most pleasant aspects of purchasing an iPhone. I bought my iPhone on the day it debuted, and I literally walked in to an Apple Store at 11:30PM, and walked out with my iPhone at 11:34. The transaction took less than 4 minutes, and I was extremely pleased. I’m hoping I’ll still have the option of at home activation, because the last thing I want to do is hang out longer in the Apple Store twiddling my thumbs while my phone is activated. While I can fully appreciate the fact that there are some people who are just too
stupid technologically challenged to handle at-home activation, I believe the ability was pulled due to iPhone hacking and not in an attempt to “simplify” the experience. Oh well. A subsidized iPhone purchase means that AT&T gets more of a say in how the device is setup.
One of the biggest things I was happy about was that the iPhone 3G has GPS. I was in the market for an in-car GPS device. I can now bypass that purchase and put that money towards the iPhone 3G. The bad news is that while the GPS technology is in the phone, you don’t gain turn-by-turn directions in iPhone 2.0 firmware. Google Maps becomes more accurate, and you can use their turn by turn directions, but you don’t get voice prompts or the 3D street view. Enter Tom Tom. They have already stated they will have a GPS app avaialble for the iPhone after the AppStore launches. What remains to be seen is how much it will cost. Anything above $20 will probably not seem worth it, since Google Maps handles about 60% of what I’d need from a GPS device.
A little background: I had been a .Mac subscriber since it’s inception as iTools. I dropped .Mac back in October of last year. I could no longer justify $99/year (well, actually about $75/year, the average price for renewal through Amazon) for email, iDisk and synching. With free alternatives like Gmail, DropBox, Box.net and a little Automator magic, I’ve been content since I left .Mac behind. The one feature I missed above all others though, was syncing. When I dropped .Mac, I lameneted that the one feature that could have brought me back was push email/calenders/contacts. Well, essentially that is what MobileMe is: Push email/calendars/contacts married with .Mac, and a new web based interface for all of the services features. I’m not sure if the general public will see this as enough to erase the bad memory of .Mac, but in my eyes it was. I purchased a .Mac family pack yesterday ($129 at Amazon) and look forward to it’s conversion to MobileMe in early July.
Third Party Apps
The third party apps demo ran for nearly half the entire keynote yesterday. Personally, I would have rather Apple debuted some new hardware, but it’s a testament to Apple’s belief in their developers (and this is a developers conference, right?) that they gave them nearly 60 minutes of keynote time to showcase their wares. It’s amazing to see what the developers have cooked up with just 3 months of time. The young Brit who demoed his app “Band” is about to become a millionaire. If he doesn’t walk away from WWDC with iFund money, I’d be shocked.
I believe in 6 months time the developer community will have cemented the iPhone as the third largest computing platform, right behind Windows and the Mac. I believe in 18 months time you will see the iPhone pass the Mac for a larger installed base, and essentially become the first new successful computing platform of the 21st century.
Back in 1996, before he rejoined Apple, Steve Jobs was asked if he were running Apple, what would he do to fix it. His answer: milk the Mac for all it’s worth, and get busy on the next big thing. Clearly, the iPhone as a computing platform is the next big thing. I don’t think the Mac is going away any time soon, but it’s pretty clear to see that the iPhone is Apple’s current darling.