Love it or hate it, the release of a new iPhone operating system and new iPhone hardware has an effect that cascades across multiple industries and consumer demographics. Businesses and consumers of all types are among the winners and losers in the aftermath of a launch. Now that we’ve had a chance to examine the iPhone 3.0 operating system and iPhone 3GS hardware, we take a look at who benefits and who suffers the most from Apple’s latest mobile platform.
Accessory vendors have always done well with the iPhone, and with the release of the iPhone 3.0 operating system and iPhone 3G S, it appears that accessories will become more powerful. "Another key developer feature in the iPhone OS 3.0 software is the ability for apps to interface with hardware accessories, creating a whole new element of control for iPhone and iPod touch accessory developers,” Apple said.
TomTom International, which markets the TomTom GPS devices, was one of the first accessory vendors to take advantage of the iPhone’s new interface. "TomTom has made navigation available for your iPhone 3G," Scott Johnston, TomTom’s international public relations manager, said. "All you need is the TomTom app and the TomTom car kit that offers secure docking, enhanced GPS performance, clear voice instructions, and hands-free calling, while charging your iPhone at the same time.”
The ability for software apps to interface with the iPhone’s hardware will clearly benefit those accessory vendors with the ingenuity to develop devices for the new iPhone.
Apple and AT&T have enjoyed a successful partnership since the release of the iPhone in 2007. However, beginning earlier this year, signs of stress started to emerge in the Apple/AT&T relationship.
On April 15, 2009, The Wall Street Journal reported that AT&T was looking to expand its exclusivity agreement with Apple, which was said to expire in 2010. However, Apple has been silent on the issue, with its only official reply being a single-sentence quote in The Wall Street Journal: "We have a great relationship with AT&T," Apple said. Apple has since had two months to act on AT&T’s public cry for help and still has made no announcement of an extended AT&T agreement. Meanwhile, InformationWeek reports that AT&T competitor Verizon will have a 4G network ready to go in 2010.
Hints of a problem with the Apple/AT&T relationship continued at the World Wide Developer Conference (WWDC). Apple announced two new features that it has ready to work on the new iPhone: MMS (the ability to send pictures and video over your iPhone), and Internet tethering (the ability to use your iPhone as a wireless adapter for your laptop). Although these features were deployed across the world last week, AT&T is not ready to enable either feature in the U.S. As the Los Angeles Times put it on June 8: "AT&T looked battered and bruised coming out of today's keynote at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference."
Although the new iPhone will be a cash cow for AT&T for the near future, AT&T’s inability to timely implement new iPhone features may well signal the beginning of the end of AT&T’s exclusivity agreement with Apple.
Typical business users need access to standard office programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Adobe Acrobat. Business users also need easy access to email and the Web. Has the new iPhone 3GS addressed these needs or left them out in favor of more trendy features?
The only real improvements for business users in the iPhone 3GS are improvements that apply across the board to all iPhone users. The addition of Cut, Copy, and Paste functions to the iPhone, for example, will make an easier task of writing business documents. The landscape keyboard will make it easier to write emails with fewer typos. And business travelers may appreciate the integration of a digital compass with Google Maps.
But what about business-specific improvements, such as creating and editing Microsoft Word and Apple iWork documents? This type of enhancement is absent in the new iPhone.
Apple iPhone 3G users will benefit a great deal from new features in the iPhone 3.0 operating system, which include
· Cut, Copy, and Paste;
· Landscape keyboard;
· MMS messaging;
· Improved Calendar, Stocks, and Safari apps;
· Internet tethering (except in the United States, thanks to AT&T);
· Parental controls.
As for the new iPhone 3GS hardware, it’s faster, doubles storage capacity, extends battery life, includes a better camera, adds the ability to record and edit video, and integrates Google Maps with a digital compass.
Unfortunately, most iPhone 3G users will not be able to upgrade to the iPhone 3GS at the prices announced during the WWDC keynote address. If you’re still under contract with AT&T (which most iPhone 3G users are), you’ll pay an extra $200 for your new iPhone.
On January 9, 2007, at Macworld in San Francisco, Steve Jobs’ keynote address included two major announcements: the introduction of the upcoming iPhone and a change in the name of the company he runs–"Apple Computer Inc." became simply "Apple Inc."
The remainder of the year saw the blunder-ridden introduction of the OS X 10.5 Leopard operating system and the extremely successful introduction of the first-generation iPhone. This was a sign of things to come as Apple changed its focus from computer and operating system developer to an iPod and iPhone developer.
You may not even be aware of it, but about 90 minutes before Apple introduced the iPhone 3GS on June 8, it also introduced OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard, the newest version of its OS X operating system. This would normally have been a huge story, but I don’t even recall seeing it mentioned outside of technology news outlets.
Apple is as guilty as anyone for ignoring the importance of the new Mac operating system. Apple’s homepage doesn’t even mention Snow Leopard. If you click on the "Mac" link at the top of Apple’s homepage, you’ll see a brief mention of Snow Leopard about half way down the page.
Despite Apples Inc.’s iPhone infatuation, there was some good news for Mac users: Mac OS X Snow Leopard will be priced at just $29 and Apple announced improved battery performance and lower prices on its MacBook Pro and MacBook Air notebooks. It’s a close call, but in the end, Mac Users came out ahead.
The Apple iPhone 3GS faces strong challenges from a wide range of competitors. Research In Motion (RIM), developer of the BlackBerry, owns nearly 50% of the smart phone market, according to consumer research firm NPD. Google’s Android operating system has the backing of Google’s virtually unlimited resources. And although they don’t meet the general definition of smart phones, LG’s touch screen phones are not only increasingly popular, but are more available thanks to LG’s lack of an exclusivity agreement with any single wireless carrier.
Still, the iPhone 3GS may have more strengths on its side than any single competitor. Apple’s accomplishments with the iPhone have occurred over just two years, while the BlackBerry has existed as a smart phone since 2002. Apple is one of the few companies that can compete against Google's developer and financial resources. And Apple always seems to out perform LG and everyone else when it comes to its products' aesthetic appeal.
The iPhone has certainly been lacking in many ways, but at least some of those deficiencies have been addressed with the iPhone 3GS. And the iPhone has behind it one feature that no competitor has come close to beating: the App Store and its 50,000+ apps for just about everything. Competitors will continue to challenge the iPhone, but until they find a way to compete with the App Store, iPhone sales have nowhere to go but up.
Doctors carrying the first-generation iPhone, priced at $600, probably did so because they were one of the few professionals that could afford to carry one. The second-generation iPhone 3G offered a much better incentive: the availability of Epocrates, a virtual physician’s desk reference, tucked into the convenience of an iPhone. The release of the third-generation iPhone 3GS offers an even more powerful iPhone for healthcare applications.
At the WWDC keynote address, AirStrip Technologies showcased AirStrip CRITICAL CARE, a platform which can send critical medical data (such as heart rate, blood pressure, oxygen, and carbon dioxide levels and heart rhythm information) from an intensive-care unit directly to a physician’s iPhone. "Apple’s support of AirStrip products helps us deliver on our key goal: developing a system that provides the ability to construct a secure, hospital-wide remote patient monitoring system with AirStrip as the backbone," AirStrip co-founder and CTO Trey Moore said. "The healthcare industry faces a critical shortage of doctors to handle the growing number of patients. This can lead to communication errors, which are the number-one cause of patient injury in a hospital, while AirStrip is poised to address this critical issue.”
Of course, AirStrip products are available for other smart phones, including the BlackBerry. But the iPhone can become the smart phone of choice for displaying this type of high-detail, graphical data, thanks to its large 3.5" diagonal display with 480 x 320 pixels and a high resolution of 163 dots per inch.