Thursday, January 11, 2007

iPhone

As most of you know that Apple Computers inc oh Sorry Apple inc has launched its own phone .There has been lot of hype and rumors from last 1 year about this product and finally when it was announced on 10th of jan, it got great review from both press and financial communities especially in later by taking apple stock up 9% and pulling RIM, Palm stocks by nearly 6 % and even Nokia and Motorola stocks by 2 %.My personal opinion on iPhone is mixed I think it’s a cool looking device from design point of view but would it reshape industry and shakeup already existing players as claimed by Apple and majority of press I strongly doubt so .

Before arguing for my case lets compare iPhone feature set with already existing phones feature set, there are billion phones sold every year with hundreds of model so we need a phone to compare with ,since one of the common way to compare is selecting a phone in same price range, so for comparison purpose lets take iPhone 4Gb that should cost 500$ with 2 year Cingular contract so retail price should be around 650-700 $ approximately and Nokia N95 which would retail around same price point or even less including cost of 4GB SD card. I don’t want to rewrite the 2 specs here but key features comparison


Feature

N95

iPhone

Camera

5 mega pixel with Carlzeiss optics

2 mega pixel

Video

Capture at 30fps (DVD quality)

No data

Display

2.6" 16M color TFT, 240x320 resolution

3.5” 320 x480

Data access technologies

HSDPA (1.8 Mbps)

WiFi

Bluetooth

EDGE(236Kbps)

WiFi

Bluetooth

Input Method

Keyboard with joy stick

MultiTouch

SW platform

S60 open (i.e. variety of 3rdparty native apps can be downloaded)

OSx closed (i.e. 3rd party apps cant be added)

Navigation

Built in maps with GPS for real time routing

Static map no navigation features

Browsing

Full HTTP browser (Based on safari) with ability to zoom in and zoom out using keys

Full HTTP browser (based on safari) with ability to zoom in and zoom out using touch


As you can see from above N95 beats iPhone a long way in terms of features .Infact apart from Touch and huge screen pretty much any phone in the price range of 250$ retail without any contract would beat iPhone in terms of features and functionality .So which makes you think what is that so great in iPhone it can charge that high price my reasons for it are

  • Apple has used high resolution big screen and lots of sensors since the usage of these components are very limited their cost tends to be dispropertionately higher making total BOM cost of iPhone higher.
  • Apple thinks its multitouch UI is unique killer feature coupled with its cool design and brand can charge very high premium.
  • Apple experience is worth the premium

Having said that personally I don’t think pure touch enabled devices are good for phones .in fact Apple is not the first company to try only touch enabled device many companies have tried before without much success to name a notable few HTC,LG etc .Of course apple claims that they have solved those problems with their new UI but I think touch only has a input has some inherent problems like no tactile response for the user which is very important and secondly you cant design touch only phone for one hand operations (i.e. you can perform tasks using only one hand) which is very important as each one of us have experienced using it in one hand(for example while driving car etc).Then the claim that iPhone user experience is intuitive is also little bit overstretched because whole generation of people esp. in Asia and Europe have grown up sending SMS using keypad for that generation using keypads is more intuitive than touching characters on screen to send SMS.My basic point is intuitive is more to do with how used to you are with a device and system .I would have agreed with Steve jobs if he had introduced first mobile phone in the world and said that its intuitive but unfortunately he is at least one decade late .So it might be that consumers might feel that this whole new touch UI is more difficult to use than keypad based.

I would argue that iPhone if it turns out to be highly successful in spite of problems discussed above would remain as niche segment because of its high price. Many people with whom I discussed this issue of iPhone high price tend to say, wait for some time iPhone prices will go down the same way as iPod prices. I would say iPod price story is different because of one simple reason the most critical component from price perspective in iPod is flash memory the prices of it has fallen drastically not only because of ipod but mainly because of flash memory usage in many other digital devices like camera, phone and even in PC which drove the volume which made prices fall and subsequently apple could drive its cost down .But in case of iPhone the key differentiating component the high resolution big touch screen and sensors are also the most critical from price perspective and today their usage is very limited unless suddenly other phone manufacturers and other segment device vendors start using same component there prices would remain high making very much difficult for apple to bring the prices down .

So in short, I don’t think it is going to change mobile industry landscape. But certainly it’s one of the cool devices I have seen and more importantly managed to raise the level of debate in already established players in this industry like Nokia and Motorola which is great achievement for any company especially if they are new entrant to that segment.

1 comment:

Arun said...

It is not about technology, that is true always..