Tag Archives: mobile

A Million Unlocked iPhones Being Shown Off All Around the World – That’s a Tragedy?

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Even if the numbers of a million iPhones being unlocked are correct, that’s a MILLION iPhones walking around all over the world as FREE marketing and advertising for Apple – the most effective advertising of all – because it gives those users the cachet of doing something “not quite legal.” That they are “above the law,” and of course, eager to show off they know how to break the rules of normal society … (in reality, they just bought a phone but shhh, don’t tell them that 😉 )

Has Apple sold them a phone subsidized like nearly every phone on Earth at a 75-100% discount? No. Apple got full list price – even if someone marked it up, Apple made at least $399 or £299.

As for the revenue they are giving up that is recorded as future revenue in monthly chunks? Sure, but when you have to service cash, there are costs associated with servicing that cash …

Conversely, they also give up a lot of costs associated with it and saves them a lot of money. They don’t have to offer any tech support or service for these 1-million phones. How much accounting reserve is set aside normally for phone tech support that are locked to a service?

But it’s all just a gray number because how many tech-gadget companies would turn down an opportunity to seed a product in dozens of countries to build awareness & word of mouth? How much money would they have to spend to demo this product in dozens of countries – and less efficient than a “worldly” fan using word-of-mouth and a live demo to his/her friends? What could be better chachet than spending full price to own an “illegal” phone? AND then when the phone is available legally in that country? Won’t they be likely the first to convert anyway to get all the feature sets?

Isn’t all this worth the $10 dollars in revenue per month Apple “loses” (per person) if the phone were locked to its native carrier? Might this not be the CHEAPEST advertising possible AND Apple gets all the revenue upfront without having to share with anyone?

And of course, an “unlocked” phone is still entitled to the full range of services that the iTunes store sells. Of course, that varies from country to country but the most convenient choice is still the iTunes store. So it really a tragedy if Apple trades $10 from AT&T or Orange and instead sells a few iTunes movies, music tracks or videos?

It’s like anything else. When you sell something, you hope to garner a revenue stream down the line – as a car dealer hopes you always bring it back to them for service but at the end of the day, if you sold it at full price, then the rest is gravy.

Sure, you can view the future revenue stream as a 100% loss in accounting terms but if you look at the broader implications, it’s simply a tradeoff in overhead, advertising, marketing and a shift in revenues and expenses.

NY Times readers chime in on doing their part in advertising the iPhone everywhere around the world.

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Filed under Advertising, Apple, Computing, Design, Film, Financial, Gadgets, Internet, iPhone, Marketing, mobile, Music, Retail, TV

Amazon Mp3 Will Affect Amazon Revenue More Than Apple’s iPod or iTunes

It’s pretty amazing the number of journalists who don’t look at a situation before just plowing ahead and writing words and “a conclusion.” They either choose to ignore the real world or they simply don’t understand it. Either way, it’s appalling.

Yes, Amazon’s entry into the “unlocked” DRM free Mp3 market will affect Apple & the iPod but its *affect* is DIFFERENT than you think.

If the iPod did NOT play the mp3 format, it would clearly have a major affect – just as when Sony’s players did not play Mp3’s directly (it would convert to ATRA mp3), when the iPod entered the market, people quickly choose the iPod over the Sony for the simple reason it played mp3’s very easily and transparently. Yes, the iPod looked nice and it was easy to use but if it did not play Mp3’s – there might be a few million out there versus 150 million.

There is no discussion. Mp3 is the preferred format for LEGAL and ILLEGAL downloads. Yes, there are others that hold some interest: mp4, FLAC, APE and even WMA but I don’t think anyone is going to argue that the preferred format OVERWHELMINGLY is not mp3 … sure, audiophiles can argue there are better formats but that’s not the issue.

It’s mp3.

You can do the math. 150 million iPods sold, 5 billion music tracks. That works out to about 34 tracks per iPod. Of course, it’s not 100% accurate as the bulk of iTunes sales are only in a few countries but even presuming double the number in the US per iPod user … and if iTunes music sales drops to ZERO for some reason?

How much is Apple losing in iTunes music store purchases per every iPod if that were true?

@$13.60

Apple is presumed to make $.20 per iTunes music track – not counting the cost of running the iTunes store and credit card fees … so actual profit is maybe $.07 a track but that’s presuming iTunes stores sales drops to zero which is unlikely … if Apple were to lose $7 per iPod in lost sales, I think there are dozens of ways Apple could make up that revenue including shaving $7 in costs from the iPod itself … but the bottom line is that the iTunes music sales are NOT the main reason people buy iPods.

Clearly, even people with iPod Shuffles have more than 34 or 68 tracks on their iPod. Whether it’s 100% legal converted from their own CD collection or LEGAL tracks downloaded from musician sites or other sites like iLike.com or ILLEGAL tracks, people know how to load tracks (1,000+ tracks) on a Nano (or up to 20,000+ tracks) on the Classic iPods. The iTunes store is a small part of the reason they buy an iPod.

So, what does that mean for Apple?

How about this ad from Amazon.com?

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That’s right. It might even help Apple sell MORE iPods, NOT less.

Because for all the people who hated the iTunes store for its DRM, now they have a reason to buy an iPod. Sure, it might help sell a few more SanDisks and Zunes but it’s clear that 7 out of every 10 mp3/DAP buyers are iPod buyers AND now that mp3 player sales overall are slowing, it’s rapidly becoming inefficient to stay in the marketplace if you’re 10th or even 5th in marketshare … leaving consumers with fewer choices down the line and we know what’s still the first choice with or without iTunes store purchases.

AMAZON?

If anything, this territory might be scary for Amazon than Apple.

Why?

Amazon sells about 6% of the 500 million CD’s sold in the U.S. or about 30 million CD’s. If we presume the average selling price is around $13 – that’s about $400 million in revenue for Amazon. Now, if you have the choice to buy 4 tracks of a CD for $.99 a piece (some tracks are less on Amazon, some more but let’s say an average of $.99) as an mp3 download or the full CD for $13, what’s your choice? That’s hard to say, of course but that’s precisely what Amazon has to deal with. Is that previous $13 purchase staying the same in revenue? Are you going to buy 13 tracks from 3 artists or are you going to stop at 4? In other words, is Amazon trading a $13 CD for $13 in downloads or are they trading $13 in revenue for $4 in revenue?

It’s impossible to say but the bottom line is that is the choice consumers have to make – sure, maybe instead of buying a $13 CD, that consumer can buy $25 in downloads … but what was holding back consumers before?

DRM?

If we know the average iPod user was spending @$34 at the iTunes music store, what held them back from spending more?

DRM? Really?

Are you that convinced it’s all about the DRM – that without DRM, sales would be up 50%, 100? 1000 percent?

Digital sales are increasing 50% a year anyway but for people WILLING to buy LEGAL tracks online were not doing so because they said DRM was the major hinderance?

I’m not saying the Amazon store won’t sell a lot of tracks but is Amazon trading CD sales for fewer downloads? What is the age breakdown of CD buyers? Is the music industry losing the bottom end of 12-24’s who are downloading free LEGAL tracks from their favorite bands from the musician’s MySpace page/iLike page and of course, clearly, they know how to download illegal tracks to fill their iPods?

Are these the same people who know how to convert tracks to a CD-R?

Sure, there’s a lot of blog talk about hatin’ DRM (and I certainly am NOT for it) but it’s sort like arguing against burning down the Amazon rain forrest, right? Who outside of 300 Brazilians arsonists are for it? But what are people really doing about it?

BOTTOM LINE

My prediction is that sure, Amazon will grab some market share from iTunes music store but as Amazon’s ads say – BUY an IPOD to add Amazon tracks … Apple merely shifts revenue from iTunes to iPods – not exactly a tragedy and if Apple convinces you to buy a few tracks, rent some movies, buy a music video – there are pretty much back to $34 in iTunes revenue AND they’ve sold you another iPod.

The people who really hate Apple and think they should hate the iPod are not going to swayed by this anyway. They are buying SanDisks and Creatives as it is now – this won’t change anything.

The 75% who own iPods might switch and buy some tracks from Amazon but for less savvy users who like being able to preview, buy and sync with one click don’t care about DRM – nothing will change.

And in 6 months or a year, the record labels will be forced to sell DRM free on iTunes … a) because they can’t ignore the place where 70% of the digital music online market is and b) they’ll be sued for restraint of trade by not selling the same thing to everyone – will the iPod marketshare drop to some small percentage? No. Will there as good of a user tie-in as iTunes to the iPod as SanDisk’s, Creative’s or even MS for their software to their hardware? Unlikely.

Now that Apple has added movie rentals and more movie choices, the only real scenario is that the iPod will maintain its market share or more likely, grow slightly. Apple is still the leader in every aspect except the bottom end. There is no small player with the screen, movie rentals & audiobooks to match the Nano, for those who want 160GB, there is no competitor at the same price and of course, the iPod Touch trumps them all and has the highest margins/pricetag – so another 6 months of clear sailing for Apple and the iPod.

Sure, the iTunes store might drop a few percentage in market share to the Amazon mp3 store but the Amazon store has no movie rentals or TV shows (the Unbox has both but no portable player).

The Amazon mp3 store affects Apple just as if you were to open a Best Buy across the street from an Apple store. The revenues would shift around a little but at the end of the day, Apple actually comes out ahead because all you’ve done is given the consumer another reason to buy an iPod.

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Hello From MacWorld 2008

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Not actually blogging from here since we’re only #72,000 on Technorati 🙂 … there are only about 15 seats … maybe next year.

Other than the keynote, there’s not much to see that’s new – I don’t think Adobe is even here. The nicest booth by far is Belkin’s

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If this were in Venice, it’d be about $900,000.

The coolest booth is Crumpler (they make messenger and brief bags). It’s a castle made up of interlocking cardboard or some sort of polymer board.

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Only thing I bought From XtremeMac:

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I took a photo of the MacBook Air but not only were there way too many people crowded around it, there is no way a photo can do it justice in how thin it is. If you have a pad of yellow legal pads … yea, that’s your MacBook Air. It’s pretty amaazing and of course, me wantee. Apple website. Ad for Air. Guided Tour – multiple resolutions + downloads.

The updated AppleTV looks very nice – also with a Guided Tour. In case you missed it, the big news is Movie Rentals from all the movie studios and even in HD!

And linked with Leopard’s “Time Machine” backup feature, Time Capsule with allows you to back up wirelessly.

So, nothing as startling as last year’s iPhone but honestly, how many iPhone-like cottage industries can you pull out year afer year 🙂

Not sure why some people were so sure about a 3G iPhone … the 3G iPhone is ready to go when AT&T is ready and when Apple needs the sales boost.

The Tablet Mac? Pleezeee … Outside of 5,000 people and apparently 900 squeaky-wheel bloggers and analysts, hardly anyone cares or actually wants one – how are those WIN tablet sales? EGGXACTLY!

Everything released was nice, interesting and useful – it’s nothing revolutionary but that’s fine. Not every keynote can be revolutionary. Making food into pellets is revolutionary but sometimes you just want a juicy burger, eh?

Speaking of food, of course, just one block away – a dozen Beard Papa’s fresh giant cream puffs …

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The best food surrounding a convention center in America … unless of course, you enjoy $8 pizza made in 2005 and reheated … oh, and it’s sunny and 65 degrees here in SF so come on by!

(PS – Of course for those that keep track of such things – Best Booth Babes – Skull Candy and best DJ!)

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Microvision Pico Movie Projector for Your iPod

You’re on a plane, the movie they are offering is NORBIT or the edited 9-minute version of DEADWOOD … fortunately the rotund dude in front of you who had to buy two tickets is sound asleep and he’s wearing a white shirt – just attach the Pico Movie Projector to your iPod and you use his shirt as your projection screen … your own drive-in movie … Now all you have to do is convince the marshall sitting next to you to switch with the drunken cheerleader …

In the CES demo, it’s a snippet of CARS …

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Microvision Website.

Via GIZMODO with video.

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Apple iPhone Forced to Unlock in Europe – Crying to the Bank …

While Apple is being forced to unlock the iPhone in Europe, it is tragic … because Apple is going to pay so much more in taxes from the HUGE profit they will be making … yea, that’s quite a tragedy.

The deal will be much like T-Mobile’s just-announced revised deal in Germany. Get the iPhone for $590 (in USD) if you sign a 2-year contract (monthly rates are like the US – about $50 to $100 (converted to USD)). If you want to buy an unlocked phone, it’s @$1,500 (USD).

So the consequences for Apple will be either make $500 + $20 a month from T-Mobile for each iPhone customer … or make some $1,300 in one fell swoop now.

Oh, what a tragedy for Apple.

While $1,500 is a lot for a phone, people have a choice but the bottom line is it doesn’t hurt Apple’s bottom line.

Consumers can get the full experience with T-Mobile or get slightly less with another carrier but don’t have to worry about a contract. It’s a win-win for Apple.

That’s why Apple is on a roll. They win by winning and they win by “losing.”

They will not only INCREASE sales but make more money upfront as a “consequence” of the ruling.

So, yes, the tax department will have to work a little harder and Apple will probably have to come up with more upgrades to deter people from buying a US phone (where the dollar is much cheaper), unlocking it and using it in Europe but all the bricking fears will silence most buyers – most that want an unlocked phone would rather pay $1,500 for an official phone they can take into an Apple store versus saving some money upfront but maybe worrying that every 2 months, there will be some major upgrade and their phone might die … you can bet adding the ablity to run 3rd party apps next year wll be a major upgrade and brick many unlocked older phones.

Again, win by winning and win by “losing.”

That’s how you plan ahead and run a business – where your worst consequence is you make more money and have more tax hassles …

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AT&T Has 20 MORE iPhone Questions

A few weeks after the iPhone hit the market, AT&T sent out an extensive 20-question survey (covered in this post).

Now, AT&T has followed up with another email survey – some questions the same – obviously to gauge differences between mid-July and now mid-October but others are more detailed in asking what you would like to see changed on the iPhone.

So be sure and answer the questions so they know what you think of AT&T, Apple, the iPhone – and what other features you might like to see …

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Apple Will Open iPhone To Outside Applications

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Steve Jobs stumbled a bit around the quick price drop of the new iphone so maybe he is learning because the Apple web site confirms that Apple will be opening up the iPhone and iPod Touch to third party developers.

While the recent iphone update (ver 1.1.1) bricked hacked iPhones, it also bricked iPhones running legitimate third party apps. Oops. What to do?

Jobs said Apple intends to release a software development kit (SDK) in February 2008 that will enable coders to create applications to work directly on the iPhone and the iPod Touch.

More chat apps (such as AIM) and games (no more Bejeweled apps – give us FPS!) could be on the way soon if the track record of third party app creation is any indication. The first guy that figures out how to get Skype on the iPhone is going to get rich. Imagine skirting the deathstar and making free calls via Skype using the iPhone’s wifi hookup. Sweet!

It is possible that Apple will insist on approving all software, and on limiting sanctioned distribution to an Apple-owned Web site (helloooo, iTunes), much like it already does for software for Macintosh computers and operating system widgets

Apple has always said that the iPhone runs Mac OS X at its core, but in practical terms it’s really a new operating system that Apple has put together for the iPhone with common DNA from Mac OS.

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iPhone Buying Guide: Should I Buy An iPhone? Part II

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Part I covered the “extra” features of the iPhone – most not revolutionary and not even evolutionary but here’s a strange concept to them apparently for cell phone manufacturers and mobile service providers … something really, really radical …

A concept strange to them …

EASY TO USE.

What a strange concept.

Anyone can throw 100 features into a room but if the lights are off – what’s the point? How can you actually use them if you can’t find or see them?

That’s where the iPhone is different.

Yes, it’s fashionable and yes, it’s got lots of hype but the bottom line is you can LITERALLY access 20 of its features with ONE tap or TWO. There’s no complicated menu sequence to memorize … as noted in Part 1 of our post – straight from the Moto manual:

“Moto instructions for using “Quick Dial.” Go to TOOLS menu, select DIALING SERVICES, Select QUICK DIAL …”

Gee, imagine how many steps are required for something you don’t want to do so quickly?

In Part 1, we covered all the ONE tap features listed n the top portion of the phone and ALL fine or great, amazing features and reasons you’d want an iPhone but now comes the meat of the argument …

THE PHONE

Yes, most cell phones are relatively easy to use as cell phones and this is one area where a plain cell phone actually beats the iPhone because if you want to dial a number from the keypad, it does take two taps to bring up the keypad but more on that later.

When you TAP on the Phone icon, you get the “phone” section which is a large screen with small icons at the bottom – in order, FAVORITES, RECENTS, CONTACTS, KEYPAD & VOICEMAIL.

Again, features many if not all phones offer but once you drill down a bit, again, the iPhone is hard to beat.

FAVORITES is pretty obvious. In CONTACTS, you click on those phone numbers you want to readily access and call often – your FAVORITES …

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Then TAP once to make a call. You can also access FAVORITES by pressing the “home” button on the front panel twice.

The RECENTS is pretty self explanatory – you can scroll through to return or to call again – both SEND & RECEIVE recent calls are together because really, does it matter if you want access to the number whether you called them or they called you?

CONTACTS is also straightforward in one sense but again, smooth and easy to use in another much deeper sense.

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I never did find sync software that would transparently and smoothly sync and track your contact info from phone to computer UNTIL NOW … so you only have to enter in names & contact info once – already a HUGE timesaver – and it syncs both ways with your ADDRESS BOOK app … iPhone syncs with the address book you already use on your computer — Address Book or Entourage on a Mac, or Outlook or Outlook Express on a PC. If you keep your contacts on the web using Yahoo! Address Book, iPhone can sync with them, too.

What’s even better is if you are on a phone call with them, put them on the speaker phone and you can tap CONTACTS, look up their name and start entering notes at the bottom of their contact page … again, possible with lots of other phones but how do you reach the notes screen without cutting them off?

The KEYPAD … again, not a major thing but who would not want a keypad this large so there is no mistaking when number you have tapped on?

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And unlike some phones where the DELETE key deletes the entire freakin’ number so you have to start over, DELETE only deletes the last number you tapped on.

The last icon in PHONE is for VISUAL VOICEMAIL.

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That’s right, instead of trying to remember if #7 slows the message playback or erases it or if #6 is save and #1 is to hear it again, it’s ALL right in front of you and best of ALL – look over all your messages – each one is on a separate line. If you see the 1st and 3rd message is the work idiot, you can ignore it and just listen to message #2 by taping on the messages you want to hear. See the slider at the bottom – miss a phone number or want to hear a portion again, just finger slide the bar and forth to hear one portion again and again – no more listening to an ENTIRE message AGAIN just to hear the phone number 3 minutes into a 4-minute v-mail. BRILLIANT!

Yes, that’s right – just hear the portion of the voicemail you want again and again by using the slider.

And ONLY listen to the messages you want to.

A couple of other great things about the phone portion …

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After you dial or TAP on a name/number, you will get this screen – switch to SPEAKERPHONE?, just TAP once on SPEAKER – on my Moto phone, SPEAKER alternated with a CAMERA (why? NO IDEA!) or the PDA phone that required three menus to get to SPEAKER phone. If you need the keypad back to punch in numbers, just tap KEYPAD and you get that back … If you need to conference or add other callers, I have NEVER seen another cell phone that allowed you to link up with ONE tap. And as noted, you can tap on CONTACTS to access his/her page and add info.

Again, the simplest wins – large keypad, easy access to most frequent numbers, listen to only the voicemail messages you want to and you can access EVERY phone feature with ONE or at most TWO taps. EVERY FEATURE!

MAIL

Once you get MAIL setup, it’s easy … the smoothness of your setup depends on what emails you want to access – this is the ONE area that Apple sort of feel down upon. This was our post a while back on getting setup – if you run into problems, you can read it to see if it’s useful.

Once you are up & running – then it could not be easier. Tap MAIL and it begins to search your mailbox(es). On EDGE, it’s slower than WiFi but that’s to be expected.

You can view old Excel spreadsheets, Word Docs and PDF’s – they look just as they should.

Sending email is easy. Tap on the ADDRESS BAR to bring up CONTACTS. Then tap out your words and hit SEND.

SAFARI/INTERNET

Again, hard to believe but you can surf to 90% of sites without it seemingly very different than your normal web surfing experience. You don’t get FLASH objects so you lose a tons of ads and of course, game sites don’t usually work but beyond that, you’re not losing a whole lot. If you’re wondering why Flash might be missing and why you might/should not really miss it – here is our take on the issue.

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And sure, surfing the net on EDGE is slightly faster than old dial-up but what are your alternatives? When you’re sitting at Gate 23, waiting at the DMV or on a commute train – would you rather sit there or surf the internet (and/or check your mail/stocks/weather/etc …)? Waiting 20 seconds for a page to draw at home or at the office is infuriating but when you have an hour to wait at the doctor’s – what’s an extra 20 seconds when the alternative is the pamphlet on “internet addiction?”

And of course, the cool scroll, pinch and screen rotation are all available here. And for some who cannot access company mail via MAIL, you can access your company’s webmail via a browser.

I also found it to be a nice shopping guide – there was a long line at a store and I was debating if the DVD was really worth it – I checked Amazon’s price and decided it was worth getting in line. Nice. I can even keep tabs on sports games and scores in progress – though Yahoo’s Game Channel is flash so it’s not 100% interactive …

If you don’t normally use SAFARI, you can import bookmarks into SAFARI and then configure them as you like – then the iPhone will sync your bookmarks from SAFARI. Of course, when you are on the iPhone, you can save new bookmarks and it will sync with SAFARI when you open iTunes.

IPOD

And of course, it’s a fully functional iPod with Video Capability. I think most everyone knows what’s what here but if you need a video demo, Apple’s demos will show off its features better than any words I can write.

The COVER FLOW feature is very cool but the video is amazing – while it would be nice if the movie store offered more choices but the TV choices are pretty nice (missing some NBC shows now though). Of course, you can always convert your own DVD’s – our HOW TO GUIDE.

FEATURE SUMMARY

So, yes alot of phones promise you hundreds of features from voice activation to 5-MP phone to a music store but the bottom line – how much time do you have to learn to use it? The iPhone does NOT have the longest list of features but EVERYTHING is literally ONE tap or ONE tap and a finger flick away – the iPhone is the first Apple product in a long, long time that actually includes a manual but you almost don’t need it because everything is clearly labeled … You want to look at your PHOTOS, it’s not 20 items down a tiny phone screen marked MULTIMEDIA and then a sub-menu called PICTURES, it’s simply labeled PHOTOS.

And just because you are doing one thing does not mean you can’t do another thing – you want listen to music and check the weather … you can make a call and type notes. (There is one downside to an EDGE connection versus if you’re connected on WiFi, you cannot surf the net while talking on the phone).

Most cell phone ads look great on TV – but in reality, everything is hidden away in tiny obscure menu choices or even the large screen cell phones like this new LG …

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(By the icons on the right, it looks like it’s in ‘phone mode,’ and on the left is a web’n’walk button (presuming for surfing) but then underneath the phone icon is a web browser – for surfing the web when you are not walking?)

The iPhone is like the iPod – it is NOT NEEDLESSLY complicated.

If you want features and you don’t want to spend 10-hundred hours learning how to get full use of your Phone-PDA-DAP? Then buy an iPhone if your time, and your brain memory capacity is money.

It’s as simple as that.

When you just look at a checklist of an iPhone and discount the touchscreen, the iPhone checklist is not overwhelming to its competition but its strength is its simplicity …

It is NOT … “Moto instructions for using “Quick Dial.” Go to TOOLS menu, select DIALING SERVICES, Select QUICK DIAL …”

It is simply a cell phone, PDA, iPod, Internet, Email capable device all rolled into one object that’s easy to use throughout. ONE tap is usually all you need to access about 15 features.

If this is worth $399 to you, great – the iPhone is perfect for you.

If you are really only interested in talking to others, then any cell phone will do you.

(Yes, the Blackberry’s are nice for corporate email but really, just only for that – and presumably your company will pay for one).

BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE

There are a couple key and MAJOR points that a lot of people skirt over.

SOFTWARE UPGRADES!

Because the iPhone is not a normal cell phone, they can actually ADD and IMPROVE features with upgrades as they have done so recently – adding functionality to certain buttons and allowing more customization and adding the iTunes WiFi Store … so instead of being locked in, they can add and change things around at no additional cost.

ITUNES

First, you do not have to hand over your personal info and SSN to some guy in a kiosk – you activate your iPhone on iTunes in the comfort of your own home so even if something goes awry, you are at home. This includes porting over an old number – remember to turn off your old phone while this is going on.

Then iTunes will not only sync your music & video purchases & library, calendar, photos AND address book, it keeps track for you so as long as you sync regularly, it BACKS EVERYTHING UP including all your iPhone settings, photos your took, notes and bookmarks – does your cell phone do that now? Sure, if you buy an SIM copier and if you remember to save to the SIM card and not “save to phone.” How much is that worth to you? That even if lose your iPhone or a Mack truck drives over it – when you plug the new phone in – you can tell iTunes that this is now the “new iPhone” and it will sync and copy everything to this new phone. You can literally CLONE your phone in 10-15 minutes! Does your phone give you that choice now?

This leads me to the next part …

REAL ANSWERS AT THE APPLE STORES

There are very few if any manufacturers who sell you something and have hundreds of stores across the country (and eventually the world) available to answer ANY and ALL YOUR QUESTIONS. Sure, there’s the 800 number to call and you can buy the 800 service AppleCare – but during your warranty period and even after, there is a TRAINED employee you can walk right up to – who can answer your questions and in my case, actually resolve a problem by REPLACING MY PHONE – free. Does your kiosk do that? Can you imagine an employee at a kiosk who will replace your broken Moto phone? The glass cube Apple store is even open 24 hours! How re-assuring is it to know that you can always walk into a store and they will take responsibility* for THEIR product instead of just claiming it’s the other company or the retailer who you should be talking to.

* Yes, if you try and hack your cell phone by dropping solder on the circuit board or mess with OS, you are on your own.

FINAL SUMMARY

No, the iPhone is not 100% perfect for 100% of the people but then what is – are there a few things that could be improved upon, sure. And yea, AT&T’s network is not the best but hey, I can’t get a decent pastrami sandwich in the SF Bay Area so that’s life … better to have an iPhone on an average network than still being on a 2-year contract on a slightly better network with a middling cell phone.

The iPhone is NOT for everyone. It will cost you a few dollars more upfront but if you want to have productive downtime by checking your email, surfing the net or checking out bits of info – then the iPhone is brilliant. If you want a phone/PDA/DAP where all the features are actually useful and at worst, two taps away instead of buried under 6 sub-menus using words that make no sense – then the iPhone is your only choice.

Sure, some people would like you to believe because it’s attractive and it’s coveted by people that it’s superficial – the iPhone is many things but it’s not superficial. It’s simply the best phone/PDA/iPod productivity tool. This post is not about whether it should be opened for hacking or your problems with AT&T – that’s not what this post is about. This is just a guideline as to why you might want to get an iPhone. NOT everyone needs one but if you have needs or interests like we’ve outlined in the two posts, you should get one.

And you can see 1-minute video demos of each feature live in action at the iPhone section of the Apple website here. Just choose the topics on your left.

(If you want a phone to hack, here are 12 from WIRED).

This is in German but it shows you how surfing on the iPhone is so much better than surfing on Nokia’s browser …

You can also check out this cool site to play with the iPhone ONLINE!

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iPhone Buying Guide: Should I Buy An iPhone? Part I

There is a lot of heated rhetoric regarding the iPhone but let’s separate the idle chatter from real facts:

IF YOU TRY TO UNLOCK IT, YOU MIGHT BRICK IT

Uh, yea. If you try and replace the carburetor on your BMW 6-series and your car starts belching black smoke and all the lights on the iDrive start flashing … no one blames BMW yet I’m not sure exactly sure why people blame Apple when they either open their phone to drop solder on it and or mess with the OS and IT STOPS WORKING … hey, maybe you have to take responsibility for your own actions. Whether you think it’s right or wrong, illegal or immoral is immaterial. It’s not like Apple sold you a Linux phone that encourages DIYers … again, I’m not saying it’s right or wrong – just that Apple did not sell you a phone as a make-you-own-phone kit nor did they want you to going in. And some of it is just bizarre … there was a guy proud of adding a weather button … THERE IS ALREADY A WEATHER BUTTON … but hey, whatever … just keep in mind, that if you do not decide to drop solder on your opened iPhone circuit board or do NOT try to hack the OS, the phone just works as it should.

IT’S LOCKED

Again, d’uh. The iPhone is not like the second cell phone ever created – 99% of all phones sold in the US are locked to one carrier. Yes, most phones are relatively easy to unlock but not the iPhone. You have about 300 other choices if this is important to you. Besides the corporate reasonings for the tie-up with AT&T – there are features that require you to select one carrier – again, you have free choice not to buy an iPhone. As nice as it is – it is just a phone, it’s not oxygen.

COST

The iPhone will cost you $399 upfront. The other costs are all relatively equal. You have to pay for activation and the AT&T iPhone package is better than some and not as good as some others – the phone portion package is like any other, the main difference is unlimited internet surfing which can be wildly expensive (like the Blackberry package with other carriers) but not the cheapest if you compare to T-Mobile. But it’s not vastly different than what you would pay for any carrier (about $50 to $100) a month. The main difference is the cost upfront since most other phones you would purchase generally ranges from $25 to $200 (after rebate) but if you would like to use your cell phone (any cell phone) for other features other than calling, the difference of $399 minus the cost of another (crappy) phone is minimal over 2 years.

WHY WOULD YOU WANT AN IPHONE?

If you make a couple calls a day and you have never wanted to send a SMS message or use anything else for your phone – then you do NOT need an iPhone.

The iPhone is for multitaskers who want a connection to the rest of the world.

Now, you might consider that a bad thing, if so, then you don’t need an iPhone.

YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR

I’ve been using a cell phone since the mid 1990’s so I have gone through them all with most phones (especially in the last 5 years) offering dozens if not hundreds of “features” but how many did you want to use but could not figure out how?

I’m tech savvy and I’m stumped by a button Moto called the “magic button” out of the 7 buttons – and it’s not the largest button – WTH? Or that the device requires me to be connected to a network to use but it cannot determine the correct time – and I have to manually reset it every 6 months for the time change? And instead of a CLOCK-TIME setting, it’s buried under 3 menus?

Or the hilarious Moto instructions for using “Quick Dial.” Go to TOOLS menu, select DIALING SERVICES, Select QUICK DIAL …

Um, yea, is this where I should store 911? What would be the equivalent of regular dialing, 6 menus? Or casual slow dialing – 9 menus deep?

Or they are conceptually good but poorly executed? (Music store costs you $15 a month + $2.50 a song?)

Not so with the iPhone. You have access to EVERY feature with the iPhone if not one button away but no more than 2 buttons away.

So, instead of paying $49 for a phone where the 50 features on the checklist sounds interesting but you have no idea how to actually use 47 of them – even after you read the manual?

So, while it’s hard to believe, the iPhone is really ONE CLICK.

ONE TAP TO RULE THEM ALL

iphone.jpg

Now, this is the old screensnap before the addition of YOUTUBE & WIFI ITUNES but you get the general idea.

No obscure icons. No guessing as to what different icons mean – what does the phone with the arrows icon mean? Well, I have no idea …

Starting from left to right … the “simple” ones.

SMS

You want to send a text message?

Press SMS.

Up comes SMS.

Tap the TABLET icon to write or if you already have a conversation going, tap that person’s name and you can see the entire conversion – no more getting only the last message … YES! Humm, what are they saying ‘yes’ to – picking me up or me picking them up?

sms.jpg

No more typing the number 8 three times to type “V.”

CALENDAR

Tap on the CALENDAR page icon.

Sync with iCal on your Mac with iCal or Entourage and some obscure PC app called OUTLOOK.

The Calendar icon tells you today’s date as soon as you reach the home screen. No need to squint.

Tap the + sign to add an event and/or type as long of a note as necessary.

CAMERA

Tap the CAMERA LENS icon.

The entire screen becomes your camera LCD. Click on the middle Camera icon to take a photo.

Tap on the photo and the menu choices come up at the bottom. Tap the left icon and choices pops up – USE AS WALLPAPER, EMAIL, ASSIGN to CONTACT or SEND to (.MAC) WEB GALLERY.

Email it? Up pops the keyboard and your email contacts.

Assign to Contact – you can add a photo to your address book/contacts that show up when they call or you call them. Instructions also here.

Actual Photo from iPhone:

photo.jpg

YOUTUBE

Not much explanation needed. You press the button to watch selected YouTube videos (ones converted to H.264 QT so they look nicer). The quality and speed is not bad even over AT&T’s EDGE. You don’t have access to the entire YOUTUBE video library over this button but most of the best are here like Tony v. Paul.

STOCKS

Maybe not for everyone but wouldn’t it be nice when you’re at a stoplight just to see how the market is doing? Press STOCKS and the Dow pops up along with any other stock symbols you want to enter. It’s from Yahoo Financial and you even get a tiny chart trend tracker from today’s price range and up to 2-years. Works fast even under EDGE. BTW, the text to enter for NASDAQ is ^IXIC and the Standard Poor 500 is ^GSPC.

WEATHER

weather.jpg

While I’m not a big weather fanatic, I discovered it’s nice to have ONE CLICK tell me the weather for the next 6 days in my area and in any city around the world. Just click on the INFO button to type in any city in the world and add to your list. Then just flick to travel from city to city. Great to check on for traveling or for colleagues and friends – knowing what the weather is there – and unlike most websites that require a couple clicks at least, again – once it’s set up, click once to access WEATHER and then flick to go to every other city you’ve added.

CLOCK

Same with Clock. While you get the time at the top of the home page and a giant Clock everytime you click the iPhone ON, there are sub-choices that are ONE click away at the bottom including the most useful WORLD CLOCK. Outside of the East Coast US, I can never remember the shortcut formula for Hawaii, Asia or Europe but now I don’t have to – ONE click on CLOCk and then one on WORLD CLOCK brings up all the cities I’ve added. There is also a stop watch feature as well as an ALARM feature.

Again, features that 90% of cell phones now have but how do you access it again?

CALCULATOR

Again, all phones have but how do you access it? Here, ONE click.

NOTES

Again, most cell phones have a note taking area but how exactly do you access it and how easy is it to access while you’re talking on the phone – for instance if you want to jot down a number or some other thing while you’re talking? Just press speaker and then hit the HOME button and NOTES. Yes, the “comic” font is hideous and it would be nice if you could sync your notes but you can email them to yourself so it’s not a tragedy. To start a new note, press the + button or you can type in the note you have open for just general notes.

pad.jpg

ITUNES MUSIC STORE (via Wifi only)

The latest addition and also tied into Starbucks (in certain cities now but all over the US later). You can listen to :30 previews of every song including a the Top 10 and what’s new – all things available previously on iTunes at home – now just available on your phone.

SETTINGS

While innocuous, it is the death knell of 99.9999% of the other phones. In an attempt not to have all the “preference settings,” in one place – presumably too scary of a list, most phone manufacturers scatter them in EVERY freakin’ menu and ultimately making the phone too unwieldy to use other than the phone because you cannot remember how to change anything – is it under PHONE SETTINGS, NETWORK SETTINGS, COMMUNICATION PREFERENCES or INITIAL SETTINGS or PREFERENCES and what are the differences?

And Apple is right – why not just have them all in one place so if it’s a setting/preference setting, just look in SETTINGS so instead of having an extra button in MAIL called preferences that ends up just cluttering the MAIL area with something you’ll probably never fiddle with again, this way everything that involves preferences or settings is under SETTINGS.

So, RINGTONES are here – and not either under MULTIMEDIA or PHONE SETTINGS and you can remember, if I want to change anything, go to SETTINGS.

PHOTOS

Of the 13 “top” icons, only PHOTOS require a little more work but again, it’s way easier than 99.99% of most cell phones.

First, of course, you get a glorious 3.5″ high resolution screen so you’ll want to place pictures of your significant other, your kids, the supermodels you are dating (or the random picture at the Toledo airport where you cornered Elle MacPherson and wedged yourself next to her – in other words, ‘dating,’) or the weekend trip photos of the Cayman’s.

iPhone uses iTunes to sync your photos from iPhoto on a Mac or Adobe Photoshop Elements, Adobe Photoshop Album, or any picture folder on a PC. So simply create new folders or checkmark them in iTunes as the ones you want to sync and as simple as that, you can port over hundreds if not thousands of photos. I try to keep the landscape ones together and the portrait ones to avoid the flipping of the iPhone constantly.

Photos you take with your iPhone get placed into a separate photo album within “Photos.”

When you tap on PHOTOS, you will see your named folders and the photos you have placed within.

Of course, one of the most dazzling features and show-off features on the iPhone is not just the photo landscape/portrait flip view but the whole slide around and pinch feature. If you plan on testing this feature, make sure you keep the photos at a slightly larger size – if you simply shrink them to the iPhone “standard” size, you lose the pinch and zoom’s main purpose – while you can still pinch, zoom and move around, they lose resolution and are grainy unless the photos are much larger to begin with.

MAPS

Again seems innocuous and since we’re used to Google/Yahoo/Mapquest on our computers, it doesn’t seem like such a big deal but there are three main components and once you use any of the three main features out and away from your house, you will wonder how you ever lived without your iPhone.

STREET MAP

Unlike most cell phones – the 3.5″ screen with brilliant resolution of the iPhone is dazzling and just like using Google Maps on your computer. Zoom in and out – while it’s not GPS, it doesn’t require another battery nor a subscription – it just works as an interactive map should. Like on your computer, the screen scrolls when you drag in any direction …

STREET MAP+

But it’s so much more than that – you can search for a business or a type of business and viola, they show up as pinpoints … while you may have seen the ad for the “calamari” search ad and figured it’s another over-promised fakery but it’s not. IT WORKS EXACTLY AS PICTURED!

Type in what you want to search and the city … then when pinpoints come up, just tap on them and you get details about that business and then you have to ask yourself …

DOES YOUR CELL PHONE DO THIS?

You can tap the included number and you call the business RIGHT THEN & THERE.

catch.jpg

No need to call Directory Assistance, or try write a number on your hand and/or while you are driving or try and activate the “note” feature on your phone while not hanging up because you didn’t quite hear it the first time and you don’t really want to pay $2.99 to connect you or perhaps you will simply try and recite it 400 times while hanging up and calling the number …

Or just get an iPhone and TAP to be connected?

How much is that worth to you?

(You can also check their website – maybe you just want to check their operating hours or some other info … again, it’s all right there on the go – TAP on the url (photo above) or of course, if you need directions, TAP on DIRECTIONS TO HERE.

How much is that worth to you?

And if that’s not enough from the MAP feature, how about LIVE TRAFFIC?

TAP the car icon to get traffic conditions on major freeways in your area … and better yet, you can bookmark all the major traffic points you might drive across – even better if you travel to other cities & states so with a couple TAPS, you can check both bridges and traffic EVERYWHERE in the US.

Again, no other device to buy, no subscriptions – ALL INCLUDED.

That’s about 15 solid to amazingly great features that you access or use with typing a few keystrokes and/or just TAPPING.

AND we haven’t even gotten to the Phone or iPod features just yet!

That’s in Part II.

(or you can watch the Apple HOW TO videos)

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Should I Buy An iPhone? – The Checklist

Having an iPhone means people stop you on the street or at the ballpark and ask if they should buy an iPhone also so this general checklist will help you decide. This is not a comprehensive checklist discussing technical specs – this is for the average person deciding if they want to switch.

The iPhone’s strength is it’s straightforward and within days, you get nearly 100% use of its features – not many things hidden beneath cryptically named settings.

The main foundation reasons you’d want to buy an iPhone is of course, it’s a video ipod that can play back music, movies, audiobooks and your photos on a gorgeous 3.5″ screen that auto senses what direction you are using. The screen is also viewable very nicely even in direct sunlight.

The “magic” feature is the finger pinch that allows you to zoom in and out of photos, webpages google maps, and mail.

It is also one the nicest cameras included with a phone

photo.jpg

(yes, taken with iPhone camera using just the stadium lighting).

But of course, it’s also the easiest phone to setup & use and unlike most phones where the feature list sounds impressive, where at a least a dozen feature turn out to be pointless (why exactly do I need a battery sucking screensaver for a phone? Or doesn’t having 150 speed dials defeat the point of it – how many speed dials can one person remember?)

Or while the keys are programmable, which is the “Left Soft Key” and which is the “Left Key,” and why is the video camera a key but the phonebook requires three menu deep to access it?

The iPhone in addition to the above video ipod and finger pinch features is…

EASY TO SETUP
EASY TO SYNC
EASY TO USE

A quick review …

POWERING UP:

iPhone – Press on/off key to power up, sleep or power down.

LOCKED:

iPhone offers a visual slide on the front screen that locks the phone until you slide your finger – – no random calls to your friends or spouse listening in on your lunch conversation.

BUTTONS ON SIDE OF PHONE:

iPhone – On/Off/Sleep on one button at top. Ringer/Volume (during call) Up & Down on left side of phone. Ringer on/vibrate on/off on side of left side of phone also. Middle “home” button also activates phone from sleep.

MAIN MENU:

iphonehero20070702.jpg

iPhone – 16 icons with a description word underneath that explains EXACTLY what each will do. Hard to mistake what STOCKS or MAIL or PHONE does.

MENU ACCESS:

iPhone – Use your finger and press the icon.

MAKING A CALL FROM PHONEBOOK:

iPhone. Press PHONE. ICONS at the bottom offer RECENT or CONTACTS.

Icons remain no matter what your choice is so you can select another one – only top portion with info changes. Choose from favorites list, recent calls list or scroll through address book with flick of finger. You can also shorten your search by grouping contacts in folders.

To dial, press with finger on name.

Keypad comes up with name and contact info.

No having to return to main or home menu to look for names, or recent. To add to FAVORITES, just click ADD TO FAVORITES on every contact page – no need to add a number so phone will alphabetize your “favorites” or “family” members at top.

ADD CONTACTS & PHOTO:

In ADDRESS BOOK or OUTLOOK, using your computer keyboard, add as many phone numbers as you need, during sync – will also copy over notes associated with name – you can also add contact notes during phone call. You can also add a contact photo.

VOICEMAIL:

Listen randomly by looking at your voicemail list and selecting the one you want to hear. No more having to listen through all messages not knowing if the one you really want to hear is the 7th one. Can forward those voicemail by dragging playback counter forward (or backwards to repeat). If Caller ID phone # is provided, just press down to re-dial – no need to try and memorize a number or try and decipher if the number was a 3 or 4?

CALLING:

During call, speaker on/off is on the screen – you can also launch NOTES or recall the keypad (for entering in numbers to navigate phone paths).

MAIL:

Press MAIL to check mail messages. A number by each account lists mail received.

OTHER BUTTONS:

Every other one is self explanatory from YOUTUBE TO (GOOGLE) MAPS to CLOCK. After you set CLOCK or WEATHER or STOCKS, pressing on icon brings up your page.

The only area with “sub-menus” is SETTINGS but unlike most phones, not scary (the iPhone does NOT need to ask you if you want your DTMF Short or Long …).

SOUNDS – Pick a ringtone. Right now, you cannot buy or load anything ebyond the Apple 25 choices.

BRIGHTNESS, WALLPAPER, IPOD & PHOTO settings very straightforward and what you’d expect.

PHONE asks you how you want to view contacts (first, last or vice versa) and other easy choices (Caller ID on or off?), etc, etc.

MAIL is the trickiest because of the arcane setup for mail anyway but unlike most phones, you can access a multitude of email addresses.

IPOD

Loads music, movies & photos via iTunes. Same rules – you can buy songs and movies via iTunes or load own music tracks from CD’s. Movies from your own DVD require Handbrake.

And that’s it. The revolutionary thing is ironically, you have easy access to 100% of its features while other phones might save you a few dollars upfront, you end up only using 5% of its “features” because they are pointless or just too difficult to set up.

There is also the factor of having the latest gadget but again, unlike some other gadgets, this is designed for nearly everyone who can press a button and can move their fingers around.

You can also go down to the Apple store and test it out yourself. Unlike most phone stores that display a facsimile with a big sticker that reads NOT WORKING PHONE – the Apple iPhones are on and you can spend some time playing with it.

As for the cost of service. It’s pretty comparable to most of the plans out there. It’s not the cheapest choice but it’s also not the most expensive if you factor in that $20 dollars more buys you 200 text messages and all the internet access – making it pretty much on par with every other plan out there.

Is the iPhone perfect, no, of course not and like anything else, it could use with some improvements but is it a great syncing, great iPod, internet access, advanced touchscreen camera, email phone – of course it is. If that’s what you’re looking for – there is no other choice.

Are there other phones that are better than the iPhone in one aspect or another? Yes, there are but if you’re looking for one that is great in a multitude of features along with easiest of use and easiest to access all of its features, the iPhone is the one phone.

And I’m not the only person who thinks so

Our October 2007 Update as to why you should buy an iPhone …

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