If you have an iPod, chances are you carry it around along with your keys, wallet and cellphone. You might even have a digital camera or Palm Pilot in addition to all that. And at the Macworld 2007 keynote speech, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone, a device that capitalizes on that very tendency to own, use and lug around multiple tech gadgets at the same time.
Apple has rolled the iPod, camera, video camera, browser and cellphone into one sleek, sexy package with an intuitive touch-screen interface. The iPhone, which will debut in June, is first and foremost a thin, lightweight cell phone. It’s also a digital camera that, like the iPod photo, allows for easy storage and viewing of a sizeable amount of photos that appear crisp and clear on its widescreen surface. The iPhone also allows for powerful Internet multi-tasking, letting users download e-mail, browse webpages and scan satellite maps at the same time with the phone’s multi-touch display.
Apple’s latest invention also makes use of a number of high-tech features, the most impressive of which are its unique sensors. The accelerometer detects when users rotate the phone from portrait to landscape orientation and automatically reframes the on-screen content to match. If you’re holding the iPhone vertically while looking at a horizontal photo, simply turn the phone sideways and the photo will automatically reappear in its correct horizontal aspect ratio. Can’t see far enough down your favorite webpage while holding the iPhone horizontally? Rotate it back vertically and the page will smoothly flip back to portrait view. The iPhone also has a proximity sensor that detects when users hold the phone to make or receive calls, automatically turning off the large, bright touch screen to conserve battery.
Basically, this baby does everything short of turning water into wine.
The price? $499 for 4GB of memory, $599 for 8GB.
High price aside, there are other downsides to the phone that already has critics grumbling, almost all of which have to do with the exclusivity of the iPhone’s applications and services. The iPhone works solely with Cingular and comes with a two-year agreement, and subscribers will also have to pay an additional fee of $10 to $20 per month for data service. Those who want an iPhone but are currently under contract with other wireless companies may also have to break their contracts, which typically involves facing a heavy early-termination fee. Another gripe of handheld users is that the new iPhone won’t be compatible with a number of popular third-party mobile applications. During his Macworld speech, Jobs stated that the iPhone would run Mac OS X, but made no mention of how stripped-down that version would be.
No matter what concerns have arisen, it’s impossible to deny the aesthetic appeal and sheer coolness of the iPhone, a fact Apple has capitalized on with its glossy, minimalist products in the past. Apple hopes the iPhone will account for around one percent of the approximately one billion cellphones sold annually by 2008. If the hype surrounding the iPhone continues, his vision may just become a reality, whether the iPhone can satisfy all of its target markets or not.