Why we need Wi-Fi everywhere: Apple iPhone

This is the news everyone’s been waiting for. Apple is coming out with the iPhone. It’s really a portable computer in your hand. It has the iPod’s functionality plus phone plus browser and it runs on the Apple operating system, OS X. This means you can sync it easily with your Mac and use all the apps you already have This is the news everyone’s been waiting for. Apple is coming out with the iPhone. It’s really a portable computer in your hand. It has the iPod’s functionality plus phone plus browser and it runs on the Apple operating system, OS X. This means you can sync it easily with your Mac and use all the apps you already have such as Skype.

Check out the demo here:

With all this heavy browsing, downloading, emailing, calling and SMSing, you will definitely need Wi-Fi — not GPRS or EVDO which is expensive and slow, but Wi-Fi.

The iPhone and the Nokia Wi-Fi enabled devices unveiled yesterday make the case for Wi-Fi everywhere.

Read Om Malik: iPhone and the End of the PC Era

And David Pogue, who tested it for an hour (review here).

It’s a computer, not a phone

I find it ironic that Apple has dropped “Computer” from its corporate name. What they have created here is really a computer, not a phone — a portable computer that just happens to have voice/data calling functionality that goes through licensed wireless networks (the cellular carriers). Having Wi-Fi on the device allows you to choose which network you’d like to use for sending and receiving voice/data bits: inexpensive, faster Wi-Fi networks or expensive slow cellular connections.

The iPhone is not available in Europe until the end of the year. I don’t think Apple has a chance of competing with Nokia, who sells stylish, unlocked Wi-Fi enabled multimedia devices (note: I am not calling them phones anymore), unless the iPhone has 3G and comes unlocked. In the US, Apple is selling the iPhone exclusively through Cingular, a US mobile operator. This is bizarre given that the iPhone, as I said, is nothing more than a portable computer that happens to be able to connect to cellular networks.

So unlike Om Malik who believes that it’s the end of the PC era. I believe that it’s just the beginning of the portable PC era and the death of the phone (and the end of the chokehold that the cellular operators have on transporting your voice and data bits).

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  1. OMG! I am in love! Now if Apple would just put a 200mw AirPort card in the laptops . . .

  2. Esme,
    I love the post. I think that you are completely on track with this, and as I have been harping on to anyone who will listen, the era of making “phone calls” on you phone is quickly heading into the sunset. Mobile VOIP (MVOIP, or MOIP?, could you pick one and I’ll cite you…) is going to take over phone calls very quickly leaving traditional networks scrambling to pick up a few euro cents on data. We will be looking at free global calling, which has the potential to change the world.
    On the iPhone release, I didn’t see the integration with Skype but I firmly believe that they should have released iChat, with it Voice and Video calls, into this phone. I suppose they wanted to ease the users into the idea of making VOIP calls on a mobile device. Thanks again for your insights. They are very refreshing.

  3. I worry that (at least in the US) this might be a very closed device. There are suggestions (although I haven’t seen anything from Apple) that third parties can’t write programs for it and that it will not run a VoIP client (skype, ichat or whatever)…

    Hopefully this is wrong as the design is otherwise brilliant.

  4. Steve,

    Even if Apple sells it locked in the US, you can probably buy it unlocked in Asia or Europe. Try the online European stores of Amazon or other online retailers. It is highly unlikely the Apple phone will be sold unlocked in Europe. I think they will do a deal with an operator for a locked, subsidized version but people will still have the unlocked option. This is simply the way it’s done here and if Apple wants to compete with Nokia, whose phones are sold unlocked, they will have to do the same.

    As for third parties not being able to write programs for it, how long do you think it this will last? Nokia already has third parties putting apps on their phones and tablets: Skype, Gizmo, etc. Apple needs to compete with them on that level too. And they will once the iPhone starts selling very well. Apple won’t have to bow down to the carriers anymore and will open the phone.

  5. 1st: This is not a Phone at all but a Multi Media Interactive handheld device. The fact that it has a cell based voice link is merely a feature or service. Apple vs Cisco for the name might mute after awhile.

    2nd: It will flourish with the WiFi Access capability as Esme mentioned which will quickly include VoiceIP calling over the WiFi nets.

    Interesting that Apple led with the 802.11n WiFi links for their Airport and AppleTV systems and only the 802.11g/a for the iPHONE. Guess they did not want to embarrass Cingular and or future EV-DO carriers. We will see this as one of the first upgrades when costs come down.

    Apple just might lead Gingular into a quick acceptance of a Converge network solution as well, with this Dual Mode device because their customer will drive it there.

    Also, the fact that it is software based device is exciting in that we can expect a softphone VoiceIP solution along with a Skype or Gizmo client etc.

    This is entire announcement is further confirmation that Manufacturers continue to erode the proprietary nature of the big carriers networks by developing and releasing Handheld devices they see their customers and the exploding demand and availability for real Broadband Content and Applications.

    Very excited about how this product will fit into and expand demand for our new Metro Area Wireless Mesh Networks.


  6. Michael Mulquin says

    I am with Om here that it IS part of the end of the Computer era. Of course it does what a computer does, but the key point is branding. Computers are there to compute. They do office work. They are difficult and confusing to new users. There are still a lot of people that don’t have them and, for all the reasons above, don’t want them and therefore don’t benefit from all the useful stuff online.
    What Apple and others are doing is to take devices that people think of as simple and part of everyday life and make them capable of doing more and more things. ‘Phone’ is a much better brand than ‘computer’. As phones, TVs and other everyday objects get smarter and enable us to do all the things we do at the moment with the computer, we will get on with doing what we want to do online, without having to learn ‘IT skills’