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By far, the most interesting development to come out of the Macworld 2007 Keynote, at least for me, was the introduction of the Apple iPhone.
The Apple iPhone is a cellular phone, designed by Apple, that has long been rumored and drooled over, before the thing even existed. Technically, it still doesn't exist, since you can't buy one yet, but at least we know what it will have.
You can't buy one until June of this year. The reason it won't go on sale until June is because it still hasn't received FCC approval (which is required of all cell phones). I suspect that it will be on sale much earlier than June, though. The only thing holding them back from selling it right now is that FCC approval. I'm sure they'll do their best to push that approval through as fast as possible. I'd be surprised if this thing wasn't on sale by around April. Apple has a way of doing that. Announcing something as being available at a certain date, and then delivering 'early'. It's likely intentional, but it's a great way to look good because they complete something 'early' (as they did with the Intel transition).
This phone is one of the most feature laden, and amazing phones I've ever seen. This phone is going to have the people at Motorola, Nokia, and even Microsoft quaking in their boots. Here are just some of the features this thing has:
First, this thing finally brings to reality the other long rumored and drooled over device - the widescreen iPod. The entire face of the phone is a color touchscreen. There is only one real button on the front of the thing. The rest is just a touchscreen. This allows them to essentially integrate a full blown iPod with widescreen full motion video and sound. The iPhone comes with either 4GB or 8GB of flash RAM. Granted, even 8GB isn't all that much space for video, but it's more than enough for several hours worth of video and many, many, many hours of music. Essentially, it's a 'widescreen video iPod Nano' built into the phone. I can easily imagine seeing lots of these phones on treadmills at the gym with those earbuds plugged into it. This feature alone will have many iPod nuts buying this thing in droves.
A Cell Phone
Obviously. It does all the usual cell phone stuff, like placing calls, keeping an address book, etc. It includes a built in 2 megapixel camera for taking photos, which you can associate with an entry in the address book. Because of the touchscreen nature of the thing, it makes managing your address book, and making calls very easy.
This is another very 'iPod-ish' feature. It allows you to sync all your photos from your computer and view them on the screen. It also includes various photo management features. I'm sure that since it has a 2 megapixel camera too, it will allow you to sync your photos the other way too - from the iPhone TO your PC.
This is a huge feature. Frankly, this feature alone is one of those features sure to sell many iPhones and to scare the hell out of other cell phone makers and cell phone carriers. It supports BOTH 802.11b and 802.11g networking, automatically. You can find free WiFi access points everywhere and this gives you almost unlimited, free access to the Internet from your cell phone. Since the screen on this phone is pretty high resolution - 320 x 480, it even makes browsing the web quite practical, for a change.
Why would this feature scare cell phone makers? It will scare them because most cell phones have very low resolution screens. This makes web browsing on your phone clumsy at best and useless at worst. Now, with a big screen and a fast connection to the Internet, I forsee even more WiFi access points popping up, and the ones that exist getting a lot more use. Why in the world would someone use your clumsy little phone, when they have a full blown web browser and a large screen to browse the Internet with?
Why would this feature scare cell phone carriers? It will scare them because in the past, cell phone carriers could easily charge customers large sums of money to access the Internet over the cellular network. They make a lot of money doing these things. With this new WiFi support, all that money is now gone. No longer can they force customers to pay all that money for a service that should be free. I expect to see a lot of cell phones in the future gain WiFi connectivity, if only to compete with the iPhone.
Now for the ultimate question. Will Rick buy one? I'm not sure. More on that in Part 2.