Now That The Novelty's Worn Off...

It has been a few days since Steve Jobs took the lid off the iPhone. Now that Apple's stock price has come back to earth, and the millions of the Mac faithful have had their chance to drool over the highly anticipated device, is it really that great?

PERSPECTIVE Everyone saw it coming. Following the disaster of the Motorola iTunes phone, it was all but a certainty that Apple would come back and prove that it could indeed produce a phone with the beauty of the iPod.

Months and months of rumors were finally confirmed in Tuesday's announcements. For myself, the phone was everything I could have possibly wanted in an Apple "smartphone" and more. Even my Microsoft-centric friends marveled at the device's simplicity and innovation.

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One even said the iPhone set the bar so high for Microsoft that it might take years for the company to catch up, something I don't necessarily disagree with.

But it became one gigantic disappointment not soon after. And I think I speak for several others with what I'm about to write. It's not the device itself so much as the way that Apple has decided to go with it.

First off is Apple's deal with Cingular. I understand some of Jobs' reasoning in initially offering the device through a single carrier, but a multi-year deal? It seems like the folks at Cingular -- or come Monday, AT&T -- took the ever-confident CEO for a ride.

Why hamstring yourself like that? It seems almost odd to me. Apple picks a global standard, GSM, and then seems to forget the 25 million or so consumers here in the states that are also GSM customers, and possibly equally eager to get their hands on the device.

Is visual voicemail that hard to implement? I just don't buy it. The stuff about needing a superior network? Nonsense. Even the Windows Treo only had a six-month exclusivity period. Cingular's EDGE network is no better than say, T-Mobile's.

Steve, if you want to change the mobile phone world, you need to work with everybody.

What happens to people like me, who are happy with their current provider (T-Mobile)? I am essentially shut out. And I'm not paying $800+USD for a phone I'm not even sure I can unlock, and that in the end would be partially working. I am sincerely hoping that Jobs doesn't make the same mistake elsewhere. Because if he expects to sell 10 million phones in the first year, you aren't going to do it with exclusive contracts.

That brings me to the second problem: price. Like the Macintoshes of yore, this thing is significantly more expensive than other devices in its category. At $499 for a two-year contract, it puts the iPhone at the top of the heap.

A couple of years ago, such a price point for a smartphone wouldn't be too far-fetched. But in today's market, that price is way too high. Apple has always had a bad habit of putting prices at a premium, and I'm afraid this is a bit too high for all but the most avid of Apple supporters.

Finally, the closed nature of the device bothers me as well. Being based on Mac OS X, this should have a similar platform for developers to create programs on. But no, no, no says Jobs.

"You don't want your phone to be an open platform. You need it to work when you need it to work. Cingular doesn't want to see their West Coast network go down because some application messed up," he told Steven Levy of Newsweek.

Again, Jobs shows his naivete in mobile phones. Name me one application on the Windows Mobile or Palm platforms that has ever brought down somebody's network, much less degrade service. That's a cop-out.

It's like Jobs is making the same mistakes he made initially with the Macintosh with the iPhone. I'm not disagreeing that this is a game-changing device, because in many ways it is. But Jobs and crew are just not starting off on the right foot here, and they're giving others (think Microsoft) time to come in and steal Apple's thunder once again.

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