updated 12:35 pm EDT, Mon July 16, 2007
The aftermath of iPhone
Where does Apple's iPhone stand after making its dramatic entrance into the cellular phone market on the evening of June 29th? How will the iPhone fare in the business realm? Will the device's touch-screen keyboard help or hinder users in their typing efforts? Will Apple achieve its 10 million-iPhone sales goal in the first year that the iPhone remains on the market? MacNN has summarized much of the coverage leading up to the iPhone launch alongside the aftermath of Apple's white hot handset hitting store shelves.
Results from a recent study on the iPhone's keyboard back claims made by various industry figures like Walt Mossberg, a technology columnist for the Wall Street Journal who expressed initial frustration with the iPhone's keyboard upon reviewing the device prior to its shipment. Mossberg later changed his tune, though, calling the iPhone "a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer" that "sets a new bar for the smart-phone industry." The columnist specifically stated that the omission of a physical keyboard was not a downside and, after five days of use, enabled him to use his iPhone as quickly and accurately as his Palm Treo.
iPhone unfit for business use?
Numerous critics of Apple's first cellular handset also insisted that the device was unfit for business use because it lacked a physical keyboard, Microsoft Word/Excel support, and corporate email functionality that would enable the phone to work with existing email infrastructures. Since that time Apple has announced viewing support within email for Microsoft Word and Excel documents, and various companies have come forward with solutions to integrate iPhone into existing corporate email systems. Apple CEO Steve Jobs himself also promised that somewhere down the road, business support for the iPhone would be a non-issue.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer laughed at the iPhone during a televised interview prior to the device launch, calling the it "the most expensive phone in the world" while predicting its lack of appeal to business customers because "it doesn't have a keyboard, which makes it not a very good email machine."
Smartphone manufacturer Research in Motion had words for iPhone as well, as company head Jim Balsillie brushed off Apple's then looming entry into the smartphone market as simply another competitor.
"It's kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers," Balsillie said, adding that "in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that's overstating it."
Apple's iPhone arrives
Cheers erupted in the streets of New York when the iPhone finally went on sale at 6:00 p.m. Friday, June 29th. As lines that had begun forming as early as five days prior inched forward, new iPhone owners expressed their feelings about acquiring the new devices as they left retail locations.
iPhones sold like hot cakes following the launch, with AT&T reporting sellouts at almost all of its 1,800 outlets less than a week afterward. Eager customers cleared out Apple stores in 10 states, with 95 of the Cupertino-based company's 164 Apple stores selling out by the following Monday night. The launch, which AT&T had previously predicted to be the "largest electronics launch in history," resulted in more than 700,000 iPhone sales over the weekend alone, shattering the cellular carrier's prior sales record. One report revealed that more iPhones sold in three days than Motorola's RAZR did in its first month, soaring past analyst predictions to tip the scales in favor of the newcomer to the smartphone industry.
Following in the wake of Apple's iPhone sales frenzy, RIM's chief earlier this week publicly stated that the iPhone may present a serious threat to the cellular phone industry.
"It's a dangerous strategy. It's a tremendous amount of control," Balsillie said, referring to Apple's multi-year contract with AT&T containing terms that leave the wireless carrier with very little influence over the sales process or the phone's hardware/software customization. "And the more control of the platform that goes out of the carrier, the more they shift into a commodity pipe."