Monday, June 8, 2009

The Mighty iPhone Cometh

I just got to reading the news about the WWDC (World Wide Developers Conference), where news was released about the new iPhone 3GS. Farhad Majoo from feels that the new iPhone is not revolutionary, really, as it remains the same phone, though with a huge boost to speed and functionality. But what really makes this story news is how the functionality of the iPhone, and the massive price cut, signal the arrival of a mobile behemoth, one that companies like Nokia, Research in Motion, and Palm really will have to worry about.

Nokia has had little to fear from any mobile phone maker, as their installed user base dwarfs that of any other company on the world. Not only that, but the average Nokia is far better made with more functionality than what the other brands have to offer. LG, Samsung, Motorola, and even Sony Ericsson are all pretty pathetic also-rans in this marketplace. But where the game is changing is in the development of the smartphone market which, mark my words, will dwarf the normal mobile phone market in a decade. And that market, right now, has few competitors. There is Apple and RIM (Blackberry) which are really the market leaders, and recently Palm stepped in with the Palm Pre, a new $99 smartphone intended to undercut the more expensive iPhone. Other companies like iMate are struggling for marketshare, while Nokia, and Samsung have been scrambling to get out their own smartphones, but have mostly failed to produce anything that snags the imagination like Apple's iPhone. The closest competitor to the iPhone in the consumer (non-business) market would be HTC with their Android powered Google Phone (G1).

At the WWDC, however, Apple's biggest move was not introducing a revolutionary new gadget, but taking the iPhone 3G, which was only recently the latest and greatest Apple product on the market, and slashing the price to $99. The new 3GS will ring in at $199 for the 16GB model, and $299 for the 32GB model. But really, while Apple-philes will all rush to get the new 3GS, I do believe the world is going to embrace the older 3G to a far greater extent.

There is nothing, absolutely nothing on the market that can compare with the iPhone 3G aty that price point. In the UAE, a Blackberry Bold will run a good 2000 AED ($600), and the latest Nokia Smartphones will cost that and more. And what will that mean?

A revolution.

As Sara Corbett reporting in the New York Times Magazine, in an article entitled Can the Cellphone Help End Global Poverty, the mobile phone, in many parts of the world, has already replaced the need for televisions, computers, land line phones, and even ATMs. In the article, Corbett focuses on Jan Chipchase, who recently spoke at TED (The Technology, Entertainment, and Design Conference) on how mobiles are literally transforming societies as we speak. Not just socially, but in terms of economics, technology, education, and employment.

Apple has sold 40 million iPhones and iPod Touches so far. How this figure changes over the next year will show whether my little prediction falls flat or takes flight. Either way it will be interesting to see.

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