Wired News: Steve Jobs’ iPhone shows the future

“When Steve Jobs stood on stage Tuesday at Macworld and showed off the iPhone for the gathered masses, he wasn’t just selling a phone. He was selling us the future — mobile, broadband-connected and ubiquitous,” Michael Calore writes for Wired News.

Calore writes, “It’s a well-worn vision, in fact, but one that suddenly seems tantalizingly close. His sleek little device runs an operating system born from Mac’s OS X. This gives the handheld the potential it needs to run real applications, not just widgets and ‘lite’ versions of desktop apps, as is the case with so-called smart phones powered by Microsoft’s Windows CE and PalmSource’s Palm OS.”

Calore writes, “The iPhone then is not just a phone, or a combo MP3-video player, but rather a portable computer. And, like a magician, Jobs has performed a sleight of hand in which the computer itself seems to disappear, just as the word has disappeared from Apple’s corporate name, leaving only its function behind. ‘I think this is a very big deal,’ says Silicon Valley technology forecaster Paul Saffo. ‘Cyberspace was a wonderful thing, but the only place you could enter cyberspace from was your desktop. We’ve had some brain damaged ways of accessing it from the places where we actually live our lives, but until now, they’ve all been compromised. If the iPhone works as advertised, it’s a no compromises node, and that’s a huge deal.'”

“‘This isn’t the next computer,’ Saffo continues. ‘This is the next home for the mind. Computers have had a nice long run, and laptops will always play at least some role. But the center of gravity is now slowly shifting from the desk to the device in your pocket.’ One thing seems certain. As software moves from the desktop to the web and as handheld devices get more powerful, it becomes more likely that we’ll see these little touch-screen communicators ruling our lives one day,” Calore writes.

Calore writes, “To be sure, the computer hasn’t literally disappeared with the advent of the iPhone, and it likely never will. It’ll just continue to get smaller and more powerful. How small and how powerful is now the subject of furious debate among software developers who really want to know: Is the iPhone in essence a slimmed down Mac?”

“The answer for now quite clearly is no. One of the salient features of a genuine computing platform is the ability to run third party applications, and currently the betting money says Apple won’t be opening its mobile platform to outsiders, at least for the foreseeable future,” Calore writes.

Full article here.
We disagree only with one of Calore’s statements: a “genuine computing platform” does not have to have “the ability to run third party applications.” Take your Mac and run only Apple applications and you certainly have a “genuine computing platform” with a world-class operating system, web browser, email, word processing, media editing, content management, presentation creation, and on and on and on. Just because Apple is the only company that’s realistically capable of providing a such a platform without any third party involvement today does not make it any less of a “genuine computing platform.”

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The Register’s Ray: Apple ‘iPhone’ will fail – December 26, 2006
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  1. I agree with the author, without opening to 3rd party applications it’s not truely a computing platform that is as versital as we expect a platform to be.
    Not that it’s not a computer, nor that it won’t offer some wonderful utility, but not even Apple could have supplied all the versitility that we use on the Macintosh, nor will it alone be able to fullfill the full promise of the iPhone as a platform.
    I think they know that and that they know they have the potential to be an incredible platform, superior to anything seen up till now on a mobile device, and that it being “closed” is just a temporary reality until it gets it’s legs and proves itself a bit on a short leash.

  2. MDN’s take is retarded as always.

    The ability to run third party apps is what creates major interest for a given platform. As soon as I heard that the iPhone runs OSX, I thought I could ditch my graphing calculator for a nice small app I could write and install on this thing. No chance, Jobs said don’t think of this as a portable computer and I think that means they won’t open it up to third party developers. Ever.

  3. Just because it isn’t open to 3rd parties doesn’t stop it from being a computing platform – it’s just a computing platform that isn’t as flexible as some people want it to be. Shockingly most people couldn’t care less that they can’t do x, y and z on their phone – they just want it to do useful things easily and well. From what we’ve seen, it looks like the iPhone is a major step forward in terms of these sorts of devices and how they work for the average person, who after all is the vast majority of the market. The chief complaint about mobile phones is that they’ve been too complicated to use, the iPhone simplifies things but still gives you a great degree of power. I’m not saying it’s perfect but I think people are trying to pick holes in it because it isn’t this amazing, do everything wonder device, especially when existing devices are certainly no better overall. Of course, the iPhone will improve with time and subsequent iterations, this is hopefully the first step towards a new way of dealing with portable computing and interaction between devices.

    For me, the greatest thing the iPhone has going for it is syncing – if it can get people fully taking advantage of all their data from their computers I think it benefits everybody because it opens up more possibilities for computers in general. How many “average” people, especially non-mac users, really use their computers for their contacts, calendaring etc? Not a huge percentage. It’s very exciting.

  4. Apple does not want to associate the word “Mac” to the device as this will be seen as a computing platform.

    They want to sell this as a consumer electronic gadget — not as a computer. Even in Apple’s own commercials, they have “I am a PC, I am a Mac” — implying computers.

    Compters immediately imply interoperability concerns.. windows vs. mac etc. They want to have the “iPhone” because people know that “iPod” works on both!

    That’s why the phone is integrated through iTunes.

    So, it will not be called “iMac nano”.

    [Infact, they should have called their laptops as MacMobile — pun intended].

  5. Less is more.

    It’s interesting how Steve Jobs can incite a rage of computer paradigm ranting by not explaining OS X on the iPhone.

    Or turning the cell phone industry on it’s head by aiming for 1% of the market and not saying who his target is.

    Or demonstrating a multi-touch interface and not saying Leopard.

    A true innovation (or Buddhist mind trick) – demonstrate a simple idea for 90 minutes, talk about it for 6 months.


  6. I think truly Jobs showed us the future. The future user interface: no keyboard, all touch screen laptops that might open like a book and have dynamic interface changing with the application. Think of a tablet on steroids. Physical keyboards will be a thing of the past: when you need it, it will graphically appear. Mouse? gone as well. Who needs mice and buttons when one can interact directly with objects on screen with your fingers?

    Now we know who bought Fingerworks and the things up the sleeve will just be revolutionary. Jobs showed the iPhone, the day will be remembered as the beginning of the end for the traditional computer/user interaction.

    Suddenly a 17″ MacBook can sport a 34″ screen ” width=”19″ height=”19″ alt=”grin” style=”border:0;” />

  7. @Randian

    what’s with this ‘british slams apple’ attitude? the ‘phone made front page of the times here (that’s the newspaper that’s called “The Times”). i cannot remember any (future) consumer product getting that sort of status in this sort of paper.

    MW : likely – as in the likely lads – ’70’s british humour at its best

  8. The bottom line is that most people don’t actually want a computer. What they want is an appliance that handles e-mail, surfs the net, stores A/V content and handles their contacts and diary etc. They buy a computer because that’s currently the only way of doing those things.

    The iPhone is an appliance that does all those things and more and does them elegantly. That’s why it will be a major success. Just as with the iPod, geeks will always count features and declare that X is better than Y because it has three extra functions. Meanwhile the public will clamour to buy iPhones because it allows them to do something they couldn’t do before in any sensible manner.

    If the iPhone were being sold as an ultra-portable computer, then the ability to load third party software would be critical, but it’s being sold as a communication and entertainment device.

    Don’t forget that this is the first of an unspecified number of variants. There is plenty of scope for other models to be designed target different markets.

    Anybody holding out for an iPhone pro ?

  9. Wired is all about the cutting edge, the future. It’s gonna take people who can see that the iPhone that was introduced was just the first shot in the new Revolution. The words were well spoken, the “Center” will move from our desktops, laptops, to our pockets or hand held devices. The last great problem to be solved is a simple and easy way to input info that effectively replaces the keyboard —- effective speech recognition.

    It simply is not about what was announced and what will ship in June – it’s about what it will evolve into. In my attic sits one of the first 128k macs made. It started a revolution that put us where we are today. Think of the 2007 iPhone as that first 128k mac. Now think about where it will take us!

    The revolution has begun. Pigs DO fly!

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