Apple, AT&T CEOs discuss iPhone, launch

Apple, AT&T CEOs on iPhone

Apple chief Steve Jobs and AT&T boss Randall Stephenson have discussed the iPhone's arrival, why the device has taken the U.S. by storm even before its release, its faster use of the EDGE network, corporate email functionality, how long the phone took to develop, and the decision to announce the handset early vs. Apple's historical secrecy leading up to actual product launches. In an interview with USA Today, both executives offered their views on the device which they believe will change the cellular phone industry forever. "We're about as ready as we're going to be," said Apple CEO Steve Jobs. "We've been working for this for many many months now. The phones are ready and the stores are ready."

Jobs' theory on iPhone excitement

"Mobile devices are really important to people. It's not like this is an obscure product category that affects just a small part of the population. People have seen in the demos and our ads something they instantly know they can figure out to use. People throw technology at us constantly, and most of us say 'I don't have time to figure that out.' Most of us have experiences with our current mobile phones and can't figure them out," Jobs said.

"As people have read about the iPhone, they've seen amazing capabilities, capabilities they themselves could figure out to use. We've had millions and millions and millions of views of our videos about the iPhone. One is 25 minutes long. We've crossed five million views of that video on our site, and it went up less than a week ago -- and that's not including the copies on YouTube. There's a lot of interest in the iPhone. We're excited not about the anticipation, but about putting this in people's hands."

AT&T boss Stephenson also offered his thoughts on the public excitement surrounding Apple's latest gadget: "We use this term a lot at AT&T--we think the iPhone is a 'game changer' in our industry. It will change how people think about these handsets."

iPhone launch, customers in line, and handset supply

As lines of customers began to form outside Apple's retail stores as early as Monday of this week in anticipation of the iPhone launch set to take place this evening at 6:00 p.m. ET, some question whether chaos could ensue with those eager enough to camp out in front of the stores for several consecutive nights leading up to the product launch.

"It's happened before," Jobs said. "People line up for our products, and are respectful of each other. We don't anticipate any problems."

Apple's boss also remarked that the Cupertino based company has made "a lot" of iPhones, but both Jobs and Stephenson confirmed that any customers who arrive after any Apple or AT&T retail outlet sells out of the handset will have to leave empty handed and return later when another shipment arrives to prevent legal issues.

"When you start taking people's money and can't deliver the product, there are lots of legal issues," said Jobs. "It's easier to disappoint people."

Faster EDGE speeds for iPhone

Both executives answered critics who chastised Apple for choosing to use the EDGE network for internet connectivity on-the-go by explaining the phone's integration of Wi-Fi connectivity alongside Jobs' claim that EDGE will prove faster than most people have read in reviews, primarily due to "better" software.

"EDGE will be faster than people have read in the reviews," Jobs said. "Some of the criticism of EDGE is more theoretical. Blackberrys use EDGE, and in many cases is slower, because our software is better."

iPhone corporate email functionality coming

When asked about the iPhone's lack of support for corporate email, which industry watchers cite as one of the handset's major roadblocks to widespread business adoption, Apple's chief executive offered reassurance that the iPhone will not go without at least some business support.

"You'll be hearing more about this in the coming weeks. We have some pilots going with companies with names you'll recognize. This won't be a big issue."

iPhone development

Jobs told USA Today that Apple began with the iPhone three years ago, and that the device was born out of a desire to create an irresistible handset.

"We're product folks -- we wanted to create a phone we loved. When we started this, none of us loved our phones. Yet, if you talk to iPod owners, or Mac owners, they love their iPods and Macs. We wanted to make a phone so great, you couldn't imagine going anywhere without it," Apple's chief said.

"That was our goal, and we think we achieved it. That's why we have such butterflies in our stomach. We'll get to see Friday if people agree with us."

iPhone pre-announcement a necessity

Apple traditionally keeps new products top secret until the devices finally launch, but chose divert from this practice by pre-announcing the iPhone. The company did this out of necessity, however, as receiving FCC (Federal Communications Commission) certification often makes things public.

"We thought it was better to announce it than to let others do it," Jobs explained. "This is part of a network, and hundreds of people needed to test it. It wasn't realistic to keep it a secret for so long. We had no choice but to do it the way we did it, and I'm glad we did it this way. It worked well, but most of the time, we will do what we normally do."

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