On the day that Apple announced the iPhone, my eleven-year-old son decided that he wanted one. Since then he’s done chores above-and-beyond the call of duty in order to earn $500 to buy one. Fast forward to last week when this news appeared in the business press:
NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Morgan Stanley analyst Kathryn Huberty reiterated her buy rating on Apple Inc. shares (AAPL :87.06, +2.45, +2.9% ), saying she believed the market is underestimating the likely success of the iPhone. She raised her 2007 iPhone sales forecast by 33% to 8 million units from 6 million, following a survey of 2,500 U.S. consumers. Huberty also believes Apple’s ability to leverage strong iPhone demand is being underestimated. “While we see positive leverage drivers across Apple’s product segment, the iPhone alone increases scale (better pricing from suppliers), strengthens retail store leverage (increased velocity on fixed-cost base) and takes advantage of lower NAND [memory] pricing in the market,” Huberty said in a research note.
(She is forecasting eight million units in six months. As a data point, Motorola shipped fifty million RAZRs in the first twenty-four months. You can currently buy a RAZR for $30 after rebate with a two-year contract.)
Of all people, I support unabashed exuberance for Apple products, and our family will evidently buy at least one iPhone, but I don’t understand this kind of coverage three months before the product ships. Clearly it’s a cool phone, and as with many Apple products, you have to ask, “Why didn’t any other company do something like this before?” Still, just off the top of my head, I have a few questions about the iPhone:
What’s battery life with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and iTunes running on a big color screen? The battery life of my Motorola Q sucks, and I don’t have Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or music running. Based on Apple’s record when it comes to battery life of laptops, this is at the very least an “open issue.”
Will people tolerate Cingular’s Edge network? I switched from Cingular to Verizon to get EVDO. Edge is supposed to be three to fours times slower than EVDO. The knock on EVDO is that it has much less coverage, but I’ve seldom had coverage problems. Maybe only people like me who have used EVDO will ever realize that Edge is so much slower...
Will a phone without a hardware keypad work in the real world? I mean a world where you’re driving while trying to dial numbers as well as access and delete voicemail (unless you’re a SpinVox user). Can a person dial an eleven-digit number without looking at the touchscreen at sixty mph?
Is there voice navigation? This will help the keypad issue, but I haven’t seen anything that says that there will be. If you can do this on a Windows Mobile smartphone, I’d be astounded if you can’t on an iPhone. But I’ve been astounded before.
What’s Trixie and Tiffany going to do when they send 1,500 text messages a month without a keypad? Which is to say, will forefingers be the new thumbs? Or, will teenagers sprout much longer thumbnails?
Will people pay $500-600 for the convergence of phone, Internet device, and music player? And this doesn’t even count the $100 or so contract-termination fee since carriers treat current customers worse than new ones. Perhaps we should look at the iPhone as an Internet tablet or a PSP for old people—if you didn’t have to buy a service contract. (Will an iPhone run without a SIM card in it?) Maybe Apple could remove the phone from iPhone and make it a high-end iPod.
How will the sealed battery work? With most phones, you can replace a battery if it goes bad. What happens when this happens with the iPhone? (With my Motorola Q, I was able to buy a larger battery so that battery life went from horrible to merely dismal.) iPods have sealed batteries too, but it’s one thing to be unable to listen to music; it’s quite another to be unable to make or take an important call.
What’s the impact of a closed system where developers cannot create software for a phone? Imagine, for example, if you could only use iLife and iWork on your Macintosh. Is that what using the iPhone will be like? What about VPN? What about synching with an Exchange server? This is a consumer phone, but consumers do have corporate jobs.
There may be great answers for all of these questions. (Meanwhile, my son has amassed $400 of the $500 that he needs.) If not answers, there will be great reality distortion. If not great reality distortion, Apple will fix shortcomings in future iterations. However, it’s a tad bit early to declare this the greatest phone in the history of mankind—though many of us are hoping it is. We should at least wait until the phone reaches huberty.