Today marks day one of the Apple World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco. It was a year ago at this conference that Apple CEO Steve Jobs introduced the world to the iPhone. Since that time the iPhone has achieved near cult status as *the* smart phone to have. Anyone who fancies themselves as hip had to have an iPhone on their belt or in their purse. It wasn’t just that it was cool to be seen with one, it was that it changed the way people looked at cell phones and how they were used. The interesting part about the iPhone was that it really wasn’t that revolutionary. Most of the features contained within it were already available on other devices. What Apple did was to package these various features together and surround them with an elegant user interface. They then enclosed it in a sexy looking package and the world flocked to their doorstep. In the days leading up to the release of the iPhone there were people camped out at the local AT&T stores waiting for a chance to buy a cell phone. When was the last time people got that enthusiastic about their cell phone? Clearly Apple had hit upon something. Despite all of the hype surrounding the iPhone, the product wasn’t perfect. There were missing features that users clamored for. Now 12 months later the hype around the iPhone has returned. Everyone anticipated that during his keynote address today Steve Jobs would unveil the next generation of iPhone.
I haven’t been to a WWDC for several years. I’ve been an Apple Developer since the early 1980’s (boy that doesn’t seem that long ago but I just realized that is over 20 years). I was there when the Apple ][ reigned supreme and was one of the first certified developers for the Macintosh when it arrived in 1984. Through the years my development grew as Apple grew. Somewhere along the line my needs changed and I left Apple and the Macintosh behind and moved to the PC. It’s funny, now I find myself more frustrated with the direction that the Windows world is going and am gravitating back to my roots and looking at Apple. I guess that I’m experiencing the technology circle of life.
I had for the most part ignored the iPhone and its status symbol existence. I needed something usable and wasn’t interested in a device that locked out development and expansion. My problem was that whenever I looked at a device I subconsciously always compared it against the iPhone which was becoming the gold standard for capabilities of a portable device. Still I could not get over the fact that I could not add my own applications unless I “jail broke” the phone. That’s not a great model. No developer wants to create software that requires the user to hack their phone just to get to your application. That model changed in March of this year when Apple presented their iPhone roadmap. This included the creation of an iTunes like store for applications for the iPhone. Suddenly the major barrier in my mind was lifted. Still, the existing iPhone still relied upon EDGE technology which was bandwidth limited. What I really wanted was a device that would run on the newer 3G network being built out worldwide. I also wanted something that had real GPS not the pseudo-GPS that Apple had built out to cover up their decision not to include a GPS chip in the original device. Finally, I wanted a phone that would allow me to use not only a Bluetooth headset for making phone calls but also allowed me to utilize the new wireless Bluetooth headphones now becoming available.
When Steve Jobs took the stage for WWDC, I was at computer watching intently to the blogosphere which was covering the keynote. As expected; Apple unveiled the next generation of iPhone. Each feature that was described checked off one of the barriers that I had to being an iPhone owner. The new device included 3G support making it very marketable not only in the United States but worldwide. The iPhone is to be made available in 70 countries which should be more than adequate to meet Jobs goal of selling 10 million iPhones by year end. The device also will include true GPS which was a very good sign. The price of the iPhone was substantially reduced with the 8GB version to sell for $199 and the 16GB version to sell for $299. I was somewhat surprised to see an 8GB version still available. I half expected that it would be discontinued and replaced by the 16GB and a new 32GB version announced. With the price points being lowered that seemed impossible. The one aspect I did not hear was Bluetooth headphone support. This is really disappointing. The most frustrating thing is that this is not a technical problem that has to be solved. The existing iPhone has this capability but it has not been implemented. With the last firmware update Apple sort of turned it on. It is now possible to get music from the iPhone over Bluetooth when you are on hold or voice mail. So the iPhone can do it, they just have chosen not to. This may not seem like a big deal and normally I would agree but I have a special need. I am looking at a Bluetooth headset for my motorcycle helmet and it would be great if I could not only answer my phone but also be able to listen to the music stored on the iPhone. I guess my quest will have to continue on that capability.
Overall the new iPhone looks much better than its predecessor and has most of the features I was looking at. It will be available on July 11 online and at the local AT&T store. As much as I hate to admit it, I am seriously considering picking one up. I just don’t know if I am willing to stand in line for one.