I was able to hold the iPhone for an amazing four minutes today (that is, Wednesday, San Francisco time). It looks nice, it’s slim, has a huge wide screen, great graphics. A bit fiddly to use, but I guess you need more than four minutes to figure it out.
That's beside the point though. Because if the way that Apple's share price shot up yesterday is anything to go by, Wall Street loved it. But is it such a wise bet?
I'm not convinced. Here are my three theories as to why this is going to be a tougher market that Apple anticipates. I hope they prove me wrong.
First up is the fact that I'm not convinced that business users – that is your typical SmartPhone owners - would purchase the iPhone when they can opt for something like the HTC SPV, on which they can run applications like Word and Excel. Sure the Windows Mobile interface can't beat OS X for usability, but you know what, these business people who need to access their email at any time of the day or night, they can figure out how to use it.
But then I think Apple's iPhone is better suited to a new, possibly emerging market, of early adopter consumers. These are the people who actually need an easy to use ‘smarter’ phone. The theory is that ordinary people want to be able to do things like access their email or look at Google maps on the move. There are phones on the market that would allow them to do this, but they don't do this because their mobile phones are too difficult to use.
I don’t think that’s really true… And that’s the second reason why I think it will be tough for Apple. Apparently we only use a tiny percentage of the features on our mobiles because we can't figure out how. Actually, I think we don’t use the features because we don't actually need to. One of the biggest barriers to 3G adoption here in the UK was the fact that people aren't all that bothered about being able to make video calls, or whatever else, especially if it costs more than an average call (or sending a text). Companies like 3 have spent a lot of advertising budget trying to convince us that we do want these features... The reality is we'd rather send a text than spend the money.
And this is my third reason why I think the iPhone will have its work cut out. These features are available now, but we don’t use them because we are cheep. We don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to access the web on our mobile, or send a photo to a friend, or make a video call home. Until the cost of data transmission reduces we're not going to fork out for it. The only way the networks can get us to use these features is by giving them away, and that's probably not the best business plan.
I think that it's all very well for Apple to produce a gorgeous phone that does all of these fantastic things. But if the networks are going to make us pay anything to use these features, we're not going to play ball.