As I watch the Steve Jobs keynote unfold at the World Wide Developer’s Conference here in S.F., I recall the jackhammers I’d passed on the way in, and figured it to be an apt metaphor: Apple is jackhammering the mobile computing and mobile phone industries to create this groundbreaking platform. The most important parts of the announcement were:
- Feature-rich — with 3G speed that comes close to WiFi, and GPS for location-based apps
- Affordable — the low-end iPhone 3G is only $199
- Enterprise-ready — with the capability to push VPN and tightly-secure configurations and new custom apps that work behind the firewall, iPhones could replace laptops in the field
- Lifestyle-ready — with MobileMe you can keep all devices synchronized all the time, and use all your computing resources on the road with just an iPhone or iPod touch
See Engadget’s keynote coverage, which is detailed and has great pictures; MacRumors Live coverage, which offers a concise report (and was the most up-to-date as the keynote unfolded); and CNET News coverage, which offers a bit more analysis.
The iPhone and iPod touch are huge, everyone knows that by now. The iPhone 3G, coming in July, will be affordable, removing one major obstacle to mass acceptance. It is by far the best mobile computer and phone out there. As Jobs said in his keynote, “… users love the iPhone. 90% customer satisfaction — that’s off the charts. What products today have that? 98% are browsing — mobile browsing has gone from nothing to 98% with the iPhone. 94% are using email, 90% are using SMS — 80% are using 10 or more features. You can’t even begin to figure out how to use 10 features on a normal phone!”
The iPhone 2 software (which also works in iPod touch) will provide added value to the enterprise world, where custom iPhone applications can be distributed and secured. Besides a plethora of custom iPhone apps, we’ll soon see apps that access all the major business applications (such as SAP and Oracle) and Web services (such as Salesforce.com). The ad-hoc distribution limited to 100 iPhones will work in classrooms in medical centers to completely change the role of mobile computing in those worlds.
It all adds up to a burgeoning platform for developers to change the world of mobile computing, and it leaves all competitors in the dust — especially Microsoft Windows Mobile and whatever new service Microsoft comes up with to compete with MobileMe. Essentially Apple has found the perfect way to please existing customers and bring new customers into the Apple ecosystem, and which is a far richer ecosystem than any competitor.