iPhone Future Product Enhancements

Overall, I am impressed with the new design of the iPhone and am excited to see Apple venture into this consumer electronic category. There are plenty of reviews out there of the iPhone, and I do not intend to provide one here. I would like to share some of my ideas though on features I think should have been included in the iPhone 1.0 along with future product enhancements.

Widescreen iPod

About a month ago my music collection went over the 10GB mark. I was bummed. Suddenly my iPod no longer has the capacity to support my entire music library and has since lost sync with iTunes. But, being the avid monitor of all things Apple I was confident there were two things on the horizon that would be worth waiting for before I plunked down some cash for a new iPod. One, being the rumored Video iPod (not to be confused with the iPod “with video”) and two, the insanely rumored (more popular than “it”) iPhone. With the MacWorld conference coming up in a month, I figured I could.
Unfortunately, the Video iPod was not announced. We did get to find out about a beautiful new widescreen iPod, but this didn’t solve my personal problem as it’s coming inside the iPhone, which will leverage a 4GB or 8GB flash drive, neither of which will hold my entire music collection.
Although, my guess is this was a marketing strategy. Why dilute the announcement with two products when you could make the world go crazy about one. My guess is that the new generation of iPods will be announced and hopefully released in the June/July time frame at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference. I expect the new generation of iPods to all use the new multi-touch display. While I would have much rather had an iPhone that could double as my primary iPod, my guess is that won’t come for a while (~1 year). I’ll be happy to buy both though if Apple makes me a really big (>100GB) new Video iPod.

Revolutionary Phone

When the iPhone was just a rumor, I told a few friends that there were going to be a few (ok, several) things that it must support out of the gate for me to consider it “revolutionary”.
1.) Built in iPod with OTA access to iTunes
2.) Wireless internet connection with the ability to sync with iTunes on my home mac over the cellular or wi-fi networks
3.) An enhanced .mac account experience that synchronized all pictures, video, email, contacts and calendar items on the phone. Yahoo! has had this since last year, so I figured this would be a given. Also, with the rumors of the unlimited Gmail account (could partner with Google), I figured the .mac accounts current size would become infinite.
4.) Third generation (3G) and Wi-Fi duel-mode networking with an advanced mobile web browser that allowed easy access to any web site
5.) GPS enabled for location based services

Breakthrough Internet Device

In order to be a breakthrough internet device, you really need to have the high-speed data access, GPS enabled, and an ability to digest any content out there from youtube videos to MMS exchanges.
Ultimately, the iPhone will get there and likely sooner than most will expect. There is still a chance that the iPhone could be shipped with a 3G radio. I suspect the GPS will follow shortly as well. When it has some of these capabilities, then I think it will breakthrough the pack. Right now I think there are many mobile phones with similar offerings.

High Technology

In the high technology category, I think it’s pretty awesome how they’ve done away with buttons. Probably the most elegant menu system I’ve seen. Being able to flip through album covers and contact lists really brings the device back to what we love…our CD cases and Rolodex. I have used some of these touch displays on the Sony cameras and am excited by how this will work. The one thing that stands out the most though is Apple’s comment that the intelligent keyboard “[is] easier and more efficient to use than the small plastic keyboards on many smartphones.” Given the amount of effort Palm put into the Treo keyboard to try and be more efficient than the Blackberry keyboard, I’m excited to see how this multi-touch display will provide this capability. However, if it turns out to not be as fast as a keyboard, hopefully they’ll come out with a slide away keyboard so that it can be a powerful email device.

Additional Feature Requests Not Mentioned Above

– Exchange Sync for corporate customers
– Security lock-out over the air with automatic data eraser
– iChat with video conferencing and VoIP
– Social networking integration (e.g., myspace, facebook)
– Music ID integration with iTunes so you can capture a song and immediately download it

iPhone Sales Forecast

Now is where we get into the real hype. Given what happened with Apple stock the day of the announcement you can tell there are great expectations for Apple and this new “product line”. My roommate and I, both avid followers of all things gadget, have differing opinions on 2007. It’s been a fun on-going debate to discuss how well the iPhone will sell out of the gate in June. I am of the opinion that Apple could sell 10 million units in 2007 provided the following happens. 1.) The product must ship with no major defects, 2.) they actually manufacture enough of them (traditionally something Apple misses on new products) and 3.) They have it available in all markets as planned. I was in a restaurant last week and overheard three gentleman talking about the iPhone at the bar. None of them were tech geeks nor in the target demographic. Yet, all were excited. My roommate thinks it’s going to be a while before they hit their 10 million unit sales goal due to the large price tag. Given the sales volume of PlayStation 2 over the 2006 holiday season one can infer that customers definitely come out more for the sub-$200 price tag. But, I think the iPhone is going to be so visually interesting that everyone that sees their friend, colleague or family member with one will want to immediately have one themselves even if they’ve never been interested in a high-tech device before. Only time will tell who’s prediction is true, but regardless we both agree that this is a game changer for the mobile device industry and that everyone should be scrambling to figure out how they’re going to stay in the game once Apple starts launching a whole line of iPhones.

Leave a Reply