Monday, June 09, 2008

Reflections on WWDC keynote and the iPhone 3G

The Reality Distortion Field is strong with this one. I'm just finishing watching the keynote and in the 12 hours since it took place a lot of the shine has disappeared from Mobile Me and the iPhone 3G.

Because I know you're all very interested in this, I will elaborate.

Watching Phil Schiller present Mobile Me (logo look familiar?) was kind of embarrassing. He kept explaining its "new" functionality as if it were some revolutionary concept.

"And when you get an e-mail on your desktop, it automatically shows up on your iPhone too! It uses the cloud!"

Oooo..."the cloud". Try to work that buzzword into your presentation a few more times.

"Now watch can drag and drop e-mail from your inbox to folders! You wouldn't expect to see that in a web application."

Actually, Yahoo and Hotmail have been doing that for quite some time. And they're free.

"Let's say my softball practice got moved back to Monday night. Using this web version of iCal, I can simply drag and drop that appointment from Tuesday to Monday. You wouldn't expect to see that in a web application."

Google Calendar does that. And it, too, is free.

I don't know, maybe Phil Schiller and the folks at Apple use a special, handicapped version of the Internet (see photo right).

Then there's the 3G iPhone. Or, as it is being called, the "iPhone 3G" (which is cumbersome to say). It's pretty much everything the rumors said it would be. Speaking of rumors, what's happened to Apple's penchant for secrecy? For the last year or every major announcement has been pegged beforehand. But I digress.

It's an iPhone. It's 3G. It's coming next month. The biggest news is that it's only $199. That's a big deal. There are much crappier phones out there being sold for a lot more. But there are a few things Uncle Steve forgot to mention during his keynote:

You HAVE to activate the iPhone at either an AT&T or Apple Store when you purchase it. There is no prepaid option. You can't activate it at home. You can't buy it online. Not only is this inconvenient and going to make its debut a nightmare for employees and customers alike, but from a logistical standpoint it makes it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to unlock. (Which, of course, is the whole point of doing it this way. But I just wish they'd come out and say it.)

Unlocking aside, AT&T customers (you have my sympathies), there are some additional costs you should be aware of.

1. You have to pay $10 more per month for that 3G speed.

2. Those text messages that were originally bundled with your iPhone plan are gone.

3. Your two-year contract will start over.

So, you're going to pay an extra $15 a month ($10 for 3G and $5 to replace your lost text messages) for 24 months which comes out to $360 plus the taxes and "fees" associated with those charges. So the REAL cost of your $199 iPhone works out to be more than $560 when all is said and done. (Note that that figure is just the extra costs associated with this particular phone and doesn't include the cost of the monthly plan.)

Oh, and while you're forking over that $560 over the course of your contract, there will be probably three or so upgrades to the iPhone. In fact, I'm willing to bet they have a capacity update (16 and 32 gig?) before Christmas.

Overall, Android is looking like a great alternative.

In other news, Snow Leopard, OS 10.6, is due out in about a year. Apple is pulling a Microsoft here and the new OS will just be stability, security and performance tweaks - no new features, just things that should have been included originally.

Basically, it's Service Pack 1.

While I want to believe Apple will make this a free/very inexpensive upgrade, I know better.

Images courtesy of here and here.