Time: ‘iPhone could crush cell phone market pitilessly beneath the weight of its own superiority’

“If you’ve ever wondered how it works, this is how it works: I don’t call Steve, Steve calls me. Or more accurately, someone in Steve Jobs’s office calls someone in my office—someone at a much higher pay grade —to say that he has something cool. I then fly to the metastasized strip mall called Cupertino, Calif., where Apple lives, sign some legal confidentiality stuff and am escorted to a conference room that contains Jobs, some associates, and some lumps concealed under some black towels. I stare at what was under the towels. Everybody else stares at me,” Lev Grossman reports for Time Magazine.

Grossman reports, “This is how Apple, and nobody else, introduces new products to the press. It can be awkward, because Jobs is high-strung and he expects you to be impressed. I was, fortunately, and with good reason. Apple’s new iPhone could do to the cell phone market what the iPod did to the portable music player market: crush it pitilessly beneath the weight of its own superiority. This is unfortunate for anybody else who makes cell phones, but it’s good news for those of us who use them.”

“The iPhone developed the way a lot of cool things do: with a false start. A few years ago Jobs noticed how many development dollars were being spent—particularly in the greater Seattle metropolitan area—on what are called tablet PCs: flat, portable computers that work with a touchscreen instead of a mouse and keyboard. Jobs, being Jobs, figured he could do better, so he had Apple engineers noodle around with a tablet PC. When they showed him the touchscreen they came up with, he got excited. So excited he forgot all about tablet computers,” Grossman reports.

Grossman reports, “The iPhone breaks two basic axioms of consumer technology. One, when you take an application and put it on a phone, that application must be reduced to a crippled and annoying version of itself. Two, when you take two devices—such as an iPod and a phone—and squish them into one, both devices must necessarily become lamer versions of themselves. The iPhone is a phone, an iPod, and a mini-Internet computer all at once, and contrary to Newton—who knew a thing or two about apples—they all occupy the same space at the same time, but without taking a hit in performance. In a way iPhone is the wrong name for it. It’s a handheld computing platform that just happens to contain a phone.”

Grossman reports, “All technologists believe their products are better than other people’s, or at least they say they do, but Jobs believes it a little more than most. In the hours we spent talking about the iPhone, Jobs trash-talked the Treo, the BlackJack, the Sony PSP and the Sony Mylo (“just garbage compared to this”), Windows Vista (“It’s just a copy of an old version of Mac OSX”) and of course Microsoft’s would-be iPod killer, Zune.”

Oh, there’s more. The full article, highly recommended, is here.
iPhone is the wrong name for it. Grossman’s correct: “It’s a handheld computing platform that just happens to contain a phone.” And that handheld computing platform is Mac OS X.

Related articles:
Analyst: Apple iPhone should be given its own category – ‘brilliantphone’ – January 09, 2007
Cingular to use Synchronoss Technologies’ platform for Apple iPhone – January 09, 2007
Is Apple building ‘The Device?’ [revisited] – January 09, 2007
iPhone photos from Apple’s Macworld Expo booth – January 09, 2007
Enderle: Apple’s iPhone is going to do very well – January 09, 2007
Apple debuts iPhone: touchscreen mobile phone + widescreen iPod + Internet communicator – January 09, 2007

The Register’s Ray: Apple ‘iPhone’ will fail – December 26, 2006
Analyst: Apple iPhone economics aren’t that compelling – December 08, 2006
CNET editor Kanellos: ‘Apple iPhone will largely fail’ – December 07, 2006
Palm CEO laughs off Apple ‘iPhone’ threat – November 20, 2006


  1. After watching the keynote, the thing I took away was Steve mentioning how they patented the heck out of the UI,specifically the touch screen. This is what really makes the iPhone different than anything else that’s out there.

  2. This makes me sorta mad. Apple waltzes in here with no experience from making mobile phones and creates a revolutionary kick-ass phone!
    SonyEricsson, Nokia and Motorola have been serving us crap for years compared to this.
    Thank heaven Apple comes along.
    I would love to be at the meetings at the above mentioned companies tomorrow LOL

    Not buying one though as you should never buy first gens.

    Nice work Apple, crush the fscking lame phone makers!

  3. I was all ready for a very basic letdown that could iSync my contacts, but this blew me away! With this news I am letting my current cell contract die. I will save at least $50/month until the iPhone rolls out in June (or earlier as Apple has a tendency to do). My savings will mostly pay for the new Apple phone. There’s going to be a lot of angry words in competitors boardrooms tomorrow!

    Oh yeah, and did you know the Zune can “Squirt”! Hahahahahahahahahhahahhahahahahahahahahahhaahahahah. ROFLMAO.

  4. I just pray that they dump the iPhone name. Why bother coming to terms with Cisco over it when it doen’t even do the device justice. Apple should continue with the direction they took with the (Apple)TV. Dump the “i” and go for the brand recognition. Everytime someone says phone, they say Apple first. I love it and the logo just looks really cool.

    MW enough, as in I can’t get…

  5. MDN Take nails it down tight. Greg M, it costs the same as a mini, does more, and comes with a display. Hell of a deal, it would have been a hot item at $800. This is a game changer, and whatever happened in Los Vegas today … did anything happen in Los Vegas today? Apple has sucked all the oxygen from that little event.

  6. One question… how the ^$&# did that guy become the CEO of Cingular. No wonder Cingular has issues. Guess every company can’t have a Steve.

    I think $499 and $599 are good deals for what you get. You can’t compare the iPhone to other phones as it’s really Newton 2.0 with OS X. Apple shouldn’t have called it iPhone.

    What does Redmond have? The Zune and Windows Mobile Crossbow? HAHAHA!!!

  7. I agree that iPhone is the wrong name. Someone needs to tell Steve to drop the negotiations with Cisco. Just call the thing “iMobile” because that’s what it does. This device makes not only your phone mobile, it makes your music mobile, your photos mobile, your contacts mobile, your messaging mobile, your internet mobile, etc. To me, “iMobile” just works!

  8. Personally, i think Apple shouldda let the iPhone name go after Cisco has released its phone, not only will it avoid the whole confusion for consumers but also all those money paid to Cisco… Of course Apple and only Apple coulda come up with a cooler, more unique & discriptive name for this greater than great product, Apple phone, XPhone (OS X)… or something. Too many companies already copy the “i” thing for their own uses making the name too common now, Apple shouldda gone to a dirrent direction. The only phone every should get starting June 2007 nevertheless, I’ll dump Motorola & Verizon in a second. Go Apple Go!!!!

  9. I’m returning my Treo 700 tomorrow, waiting six months with my old Treo 600, to get one of the first iPhones. This thing is so cool, and does so many things I’ve wanted my Treo to do, that I can’t believe it.

    This will be a BIGGER product than iPod in 24 months!!

  10. Apple wants the iPhone name because they want to emphasize that it is a revolution in phones for the mainstream consumer. Not mobile device, not Internet device, but phone.

    Now we “geeky” Apple followers all know that this is much more than a phone, but just like with the iPod, Apple is aiming way beyond us with the iPhone.

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