updated 09:25 am EDT, Thu May 11, 2006
Apple working on cellphone
Apple is working on developing a simple, integrated media-playing cellphone and a home-media hub, according to a new column by industry pundit Walt Mossberg. Citing different approaches to building products, Mossberg says Apple's "end-to-end" model is a sharp contrast to Microsoft's component approach. "In the component model, many companies make hardware and software that run on a standard platform, creating inexpensive commodity devices that don't always work perfectly together, but get the job done. In the end-to-end model, one company designs both the hardware and software, which work smoothly together, but the products cost more and limit choice," the columnist wrote in today's edition of The Wall Street Journal. The column adds more weight to many industry rumors about a possible "iPhone"--as recent reports suggest that Apple has already begun looking for suppliers and analysts have said any such device could affect other cell phone manufacturers. [updated]
Despite tremendous success of Microsoft Windows, Mossberg said he believes that Apple's end-to-end approach can still success, as consumers "crave" integration and simplicity.
"In the first war between these models, the war for dominance of the personal-computer market, Microsoft's approach won decisively," Mossberg wrote. "Aided by efficient assemblers like Dell, and by corporate IT departments employed to integrate the components, Microsoft's component-based Windows platform crushed Apple's end-to-end Macintosh platform."
However, in the current post-PC era, he believes the focus, on devices such as music players, game consoles, and cellphones, is on integration and simplicity, proclaiming the early winner to be the "end-to-end" model used by Apple: "Now, Apple is working on other projects built on the same end-to-end model as the iPod: a media-playing cellphone and a home-media hub."
Mossberg also challenged the notion that Apple's iTunes/iPod ecosystem is "closed" or propietary, saying that Apple's iPod plays the two most common open audio formats, MP3 and WAV as well as MP4, the most common open video format. iPods work well even if you never buy a song from Apple, he insists. "And iTunes and the iPod work on Windows computers, not just Macs. So how is that closed?"