macnews.net.tc
2007-01-16
The iPhone minus the reality distortion field: lukewarm?
A few days have passed, and clearly, there was a *lot* of "babble" in Steve's presentation of the phone. Right now, there are a lot of unanswered questions that are surely important to us. For example: *If* the iPhone runs on a Samsung CPU, then the low-level OS part of the iPhone is not Mac OS X. Otherwise, Apple would have to release the source code according to the rules for BSD. Then, Apple (well, Steve Jobs) said that "you don't want your phone to be a 'platform', you just want it to work". He's quite wrong there. At least if you talk to the actual smartphone users of today. In fact one of the great things about smartphones is that they're not as restricted as "normal" mobile phones. An example: Palm could get away with a lackluster calendar application, because 3rd party calendar applications were so good - and available.
If you look at the iPhone from such a point of view, it's actually quite a bit less smart. The "smart" part about a smartphone is not only that it can do things like use webservices or handle E-Mail. Those features have been on dumb phones for years.
The info spreading now is that the OS takes about 500 MB on an iPhone's flash memory (which of course reduces the space for content), which quite clearly is not a *full* installation of Mac OS X. Clearly, some things are missing. Which ones? We don't know. Clearly, only the drivers have to be present for the hardware that is in it - unlike the full version, where you'll have drivers available for almost anything you can think of. The important thing is: The iPhone is going to be very restricted. It's not a "full computer in the palm of your hand" or anything. It's what Apple plus the carrier want you to have in the palm of your hand. That might be enough for you and me - we'll have to consider the pros and cons, I guess - but it's not a platform that appeals to the smartphone users particularly.
On the bright side: Apple can and will extend the iPhone's functionality. If only so we keep in mind that they can. ;) So an update following the release of the iPhone might add something really nice. Like an iChat application. One or the other useful widget etc. - Just don't expect the iPhone to be anything like "open".
Comments:
The BSD license does not contain any requirement to make source code available.
 
You have it the wrong way around Fryke. What Steve said about the phone indicates it is NOT intended to be a 'smartphone'. In fact it is deliberately pitched at everyone who 'just wants a phone'. Your smartphone users will continue to be attracted to the current offerings, and if Apple can tap into the *much larger* audience for 'normal' phones, they can clean up.

And the major mobile phone OEMs will be more than a little worried. Why else would the Nokias and Motorolas be working so hard to put iPod-like features into their phones if they weren't always afraid Apple wouldn't just put a phone into their iPods?
 
I'm not saying Apple's completely wrong about this, and I sure _hope_ the iPhone(s) will be a success. I personally _want_ one, most definitely. But Steve Jobs _was_ picking at the smartphones. It's just: No, they did _not_ reinvent the phone, really. That they simply haven't.

tesseract: About the BSD license... I _thought_ adopting a new chip architecture was specifically in the terms. Could be wrong, though. Read it in an article shortly after the keynote somewhere.
 
The good thing is, while the hardware design is complete, the software set is not. There should be a lot of changes between now and June :-)

Glor
 
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