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13 January 2007


Jay Fienberg

"...but why would one ever buy a phone with such obvious limitations out of the box?"

Because the majority of mobiles purchased are even more limited. The iPhone can do everything my current phone does, and a whole lot more. I can imagine a lot of people seeing it in those terms first.

Also, I think it's like asking the question: why do people buy movie tickets when they know they'll be forced to watch bad previews and ads, and then the movie itself will be filled with product placements?

One answer is: people want to enjoy the experience of seeing a movie in person, and are willing to pay for that experience with a combination of cash and the surrender of control. So, with the iPhone, people will want the iPhone experience, and will be willing to pay, and surrender control to get it.

I don't think it's correct to assume that people expect massive amounts of software control with their hardware devices. Because, people still associate each hardware form factor with a limited set of functions--if you give people the ability to use those functions, it meets expectations.

But, it will be different when it's more common to find devices used for anything--when your camera also works as an email and web browser, or your refrigerator is a web server. And, I certainly agree with the observation that the iPhone strategy might really be one step forward / two steps back in the direction of that kind of freedom.

(also see my "The future of music playback" post: http://earreverends.com/notes/200406/playbacks_future_music.html

Things will be different as form factor less and less to implies function.)

Jim Benson

Ow! Blogslapped by my co-author!

Jay Fienberg

Oops, sorry--didn't mean that strictly as a blogslap :-)

I think there's this interesting situation: Apple makes hardware and software that has incredible popular appeal, and will potentially be widely adopted and/or imitated. At the same time, these products are designed to lock-in and restrict people from making certain choices.

Ideally, someone would figure out how to make similarly compelling hardware and software that also increases freedom from that kind of lock-in and restriction.

(There are things out there--like Songbird instead of iTunes of Rocketbox OS for iPods, etc.)

Besides all of the restrictive designs in the telecom, music industry, movie industry, etc., I don't know of any company or movement (e.g., Web 2.0) with the ability to implement so many interrelated devices / applications with compelling designs--and compelling interconnectedness.

Apple has an iPhone, but part of its appeal is its relationship to software programs like iTunes.

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