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It’s official…ummm, sort of: Apple phone Tuesday!

January 8, 2007

[UPDATED with clarifications, commentary…]

Drudge called it “An Apple personal computer to carry in a pocket.” Man, do I wish!

Apple logoBut it looks like it’s not far off, as the International Herald Tribune reports expects that Steve Jobs will unveil the Apple phone Tuesday at MacWorld.

Here’s some details (my comments in italics):

For functions from e-mail and instant messaging to mobile MySpace and ESPN, computer users are increasingly turning to the “fourth screen” — the one on their cellphones — which is evolving to adopt more characteristics of the three previous generations of screens: movie, television and computer.

That shift may well be underscored on Tuesday when Steven Jobs, the chief executive of Apple Computer, is expected to unveil an Apple phone representing his company’s new mobile communications strategy — highlighted by a device that may include Jobs-inspired refinements like a sleek ceramic case and a transparent touch screen.

Industry executives and competitors say that Apple has developed the first of the next generation of devices that are closer to personal computers in pocket form, meaning that they will easily handle music, entertainment, productivity tasks and communications on cellular and other wireless networks. …
“Apple is about to touch off a nuclear war,” said Paul Mercer, a software designer and president of Iventor, a designer of software for hand-helds based in Palo Alto, California. “The Nokias and the Motorolas will have to respond.”

And the coming convergence — or possibly collision — between cellphones and desktop computers is also yielding new forms of hybrid devices. Nokia and Sony have recently introduced hand- helds with innovative physical designs and new combinations of communication features, with screens that are more readable than those on cellphones. …

OK, few points here…

  1. Do I really want a phone that acts like my computer? Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be able to quickly check a sports score or e-mail on a 3G cell phone browser. But for most people, they just want a phone that WORKS and doesn’t drop calls. End of story. And in most cases, call dropping depends on the carrier and area you travel/work, not the phone gadget itself. So Apple, make a phone that is a good PHONE first and foremost, and doesn’t try to be everything to everyone and you’ll capture a good chunk of the market.
  2. Most phone users are using phones to talk and to text-message — mostly because of the high-cost data plans you must sign up for or high-cost per-MB rates you are forced to fork over if you try to do anything more. If the Apple phone makes these experiences superior on its device, then good on it. If not, I feel that many will not go through the hassle with their carrier (Cingular?) to switch devices.
  3. For the Blackberry crowd, an Apple version of the popular do-everything device would be a godsend. And for old-school journalists in our newsroom that haven’t made the jump to Blackberry-like smart phones, the “user-friendliness” of an Apple device could be just the thing to bring them into the digital, mobile newsroom age. I mean, everyone WANTS an iPod, even if the figuring out how to use the device makes them sweat bullets…

For Apple, one advantage in entering the wireless data market may be that it can develop both the hardware and the software for its own phone. But it would still need to rely on the cellular carriers.In the past, Jobs has cited the carriers’ control of mobile phones in the United States as a reason he had not introduced an Apple phone. Now that has apparently changed, and Apple’s business strategy in offering an Apple phone will potentially be as intriguing as its industrial design.

Jobs has been rumored to have entered into an alliance with Cingular. That would suggest he has patched up a reported split that resulted in 2005 when Apple introduced its iPod nano on the same day that Cingular and Motorola introduced the Rokr.

I hope Cingular will let me upgrade from my RAZR without an arm/leg sacrifice. One smart move from Apple would be to help subsidize current Cingular users’ transfers to the Apple phone from their current gadget (maybe, a $50-100 trade-in credit?). I’d be onboard for that in a second.

Whatever his business strategy, Jobs is certain to have an impact. Recently, he told two associates, who asked not to be identified to avoid damaging their relationship with him, that he was more excited about his current project than he was about the Macintosh.

More excited? Wow…

It’ll be interesting to see the media rush on Monday to get on the “I Called It!” Apple phone bandwagon. I’ll be adding links from MSM reports on anything Apple phone-related here.

Remember, live blog mirroring of Steve Jobs’ keynote live at noon EST (9 a.m. PST) Tuesday here on Hard Drive Life. Can’t wait!

[SECOND UPDATE: My wife Jen is an Apple junkie too, with her video iPod and her Macbook Pro by her side at all times. (She even falls asleep with the Macbook sometimes at her side … a little creepy!)

Here’s the IM conversation we just had this morning about the Apple phone. Maybe it’s not too late for Apple to get a geneticist on the horn for this…

(07:27:37) Coreyclayton: BTW….Apple phone tomorrow…story, it’s getting legs
(07:27:47) Coreyclayton: Sounds like Cingular is gonna carry it
(07:27:51) Coreyclayton: 🙂
(07:27:55) Jen: That sounds like a freakish genetic experiment.
(07:28:02) Jen: I don’t want my phone to have legs.
(07:28:03) Coreyclayton: Apple phone, now with Legs!
(07:28:10) Coreyclayton: it walks to you…
(07:28:21) Jen: I already can’t find it half the time. If it could run away, I’d be screwed.
(07:28:22) Coreyclayton: when it rings….and it dances when your mom calls
(07:28:23) Coreyclayton: 😛
(07:28:40) Jen: If my phone could relocate itself, I’d be in deep s**t.
(07:29:06) Jen: Monday mornings would have even more hilarity as Jen’s phone jumps out of her purse and runs under the dining room table.
(07:29:21) Jen: “WTF? I KNOW I didn’t put it there! God damn LEGS!”

[THIRD UPDATE: There’s a PHOTO of the PHONE! Photo! Photo! Stop the presses … Oh wait, it’s just a calculator.

Never mind. Back to your normal life…]

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