AT&T Inc. Chief Operating Officer Randall Stephenson said expectations are “too low” for Apple Inc.’s iPhone, which his phone company will start selling next month.
I’ll admit that from all reports the iPhone is going to be one impressive piece of hardware (albeit with some design flaws). But when it comes to understanding it’s market appeal, I look at it the same way I look at a robot that transforms into a building: I don’t get it.
Here’s who won’t buy it (remember, it’s a $499/599 phone, with a locked AT&T plan):
- “Business People” – they need their crackberries and their Treos for their mobile email. The iPhone doesn’t have fast (enough) Internet access, doesn’t sync with Outlook, and really isn’t designed as a business device. So with the exception of the wealthy segment who will buy it as a status item, I’m ruling out this market.
- “High school kids” – can’t afford it (again, without rich parents). Further, the lack of a 10-key keypad makes it difficult to send SMS messages while in class (teens do more texting than adults really imagine), since you need to look at the screen to do any kind of entry.
- “College kids” – really can’t afford it, same problem as with high school kids.
- “900,000 of the people on this list” – sure, people want to be on the “tell me when it’s here list” but how many of them will actually pull the trigger? Not so many is my hunch. I’ve been informally sampling friends, colleagues, family, people I’m interviewing for jobs, etc. Sure, everybody’s interested, but there’s another common trends: even those who say they want one don’t seem to want the first generation phone. It’s gonna be buggy, and even bigtime Apple fans recall the somewhat unimpressive gen-1 iPod.
So who’s left?
- “Trendy/hipster folks with lots of money to burn” – yup, they’re ALL going to buy it. But there aren’t 10,000,000 of them.
Do I believe Apple has a chance to be a big player in this space? Yes. Over time. But in my opinion, 2008 is going to be a learning year for the company as they move quickly into production on gen-2. My predictions for that unit:
- Removable battery
- 10-key or force-feedback touchscreen
- Faster Internet access
I will admit, back in 1997 I was one fellow who didn’t envision PDAs ever needing color screens, so uhh… oops! Let’s see if I get this one right – we’ll check back in 18 or so months to see if I have egg on my face.