My predictions about the success of Apple’s iPhone

After digesting all of the stories, videos, blogs and comments on the ‘Net, I make my predictions about the success of the iPhone.

Here we are on the eve of what is arguably the hottest product launch in the history of computing – the Apple iPhone. Over the past few weeks the amount of buzz surrounding it has reached frenzied proportions! As usual, I read the same reports on the ‘Net typical of an Apple product launch – “Apple is great!” “Apple is going to fail!” “Apple did it all wrong!” “It’s too expensive” “I want one!” “No one is going to want one!” “The iPhone doesn’t do <insert favorite technology or feature here>”. So, I’m here to add to the insanity and give my take on the success of the iPhone, but through a different perspective. In short,

Apple is going to sell millions of iPhones … and this is just the beginning.

Why will it be so successful? Apple expertly markets and sells technology catered to the largest section of consumers who are, based on their technology needs and knowledge, simply the average person. Most companies (try) do this, too, but always fail to excite consumers in the way Apple does. Their secret sauce is one thing – the user experience – and it permeates the entire experience, from marketing to packaging to purchasing to product use, etc. It is this user experience which fully resonates with the majority on so many different levels.

!http://davidmccuskey.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/chasm-400w.jpg(The Graph of Moolah)!:http://davidmccuskey.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/chasm-graffle.png

click on the image for a larger view

The market and the majority of which I speak are best described in the book “Crossing the Chasm” by Geoffrey Moore. Graphically, his view of the market is a typical bell-shaped curve that is split into five different segments of consumers, each with their own technical needs, motivations and comfort levels. The names of these groups are the Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, and the Laggards. By far the two largest of these consumer groups, and the ones to target to be extremely successful, are the Early Majority and the Late Majority. And, it’s interesting to note, it’s not necessary to target these consumers with the best technology[1]!

No, Apple doesn’t always compete using the latest technology, though whatever technology they choose they make it easier to use and more beautiful than any existing product. With the iPhone they have once again upped-the-ante by bringing to market the world’s first consumer multi-touch display which uses hand gestures to navigate the phone’s menus and tools. The screen is gorgeous, the graphics are adorable, and people will have fun using this phone.

It’s apparent that Apple put a lot of research and development into the interface and they will need to recoup their costs. Thus paying a premium for this device shouldn’t be unexpected (though it is actually not that expensive when compared to other smart phones on the market today[2]).
Initially price won’t be an issue because the first purchases will be made from those in the market groups called the Innovators and Early Adopters. These people are willing to spend extra money for something cutting edge, but to be fully entrenched in the latter groups the price must fall to within their budget (as did the prices of the iPod). I expect the first price drop to happen in 6-12 months with the second revision.

Of course there are things which might hamper the iPhone’s success:

  • Manufacturing defects
    I think Apple is poised and ready to deal with any issues which come up.

  • Usability
    Notably the keyboard and battery life, though I’m sure Apple has done a lot of testing. Initial reports are positive.

  • AT&T service
    This isn’t really under Apple’s control, but they have taken over part of the process, notably activation of the phone which will be done through iTunes!

It’s obvious that Apple has worked extremely hard getting the iPhone to market. From outside appearances, the iPhone execution has been superb, especially considering all of the components Apple has brought together within a few short years.
The early summer release will give Apple time to work out the initial bugs and give the market opportunity to see how cool the iPhone really is. Fast forward six months and Apple will once again be selling the most desired technical gadgets during the Christmas season.

Given the new touch interface, the iPhone is the most revolutionary mobile phone / Internet device / music player the world has ever seen. Apple will sell millions, make billions, and fully deserves to do so!

fn1. Two notable examples are the Apple iPod music player and the Nintendo Wii game console. Neither product incorporates the best technology on the market, but they are both one of the most desired items in their respective categories. The popularity derives from their user experience.

fn2. Check ebay for the Nokia N95. (At the time of this writing, the Nokia 95 was selling for ~650$US)

Teaching an older Macintosh how to use large, modern hard drives.

When I received the hard drive I put it in my FireVue, an external firewire enclosure I bought many moons ago from a company called Granite Digital.

…The punch-line to this story is that all computers and hard drive hardware having a controller based on a communication protocol known as ATA-5 can only address up to 128Gb of data (or 137Gb, depending on if you say toh-may-toh or toh-mah-toh).

…A newer drive protocol called ATA-6 has been out for a few years and current hardware based on this version can address as much as 2 terabytes of information! … Because this is a newer protocol there is a lot of computer hardware out there which has this 128Gb issue, including my beloved FireVue which I purchased around 2001.

…Looking at Apple’s web page on PowerMac specifications, I can see that Harold, my ‘newest’ computer, was first introduced in September 1999 and was phased out 1 year later; this was well before the June 2002 cutoff.

…After I purchased the software, a quick installation and a reboot I could instantly see the larger drive on my computer and Disk Utility didn’t have any more issues formating or partitioning the drive.

…After I installed it, my computer could see all 250Gb, but Disk Utility still couldn’t format or partition the hard drive.

…As it turns out, the older enclosures based on ATA-5 can see hard drives larger than 128Gb using their firmware update.

…So, I’m going to move my smaller drives to the two swappable trays that I have for my firewire enclosure, put my two large drives inside of my PowerMac and rely on the ATA-6 software to do it’s thing.

Ho Hum on the Apple front, but I still want a Mini

I am glad that Apple has upgraded the Mac Mini with the new Intel processors because I wanted to get one to use as my web server. Awhile back I read something which stated that Python runs slower with FreeBSD on a Mac. I can’t remember if it was a combination between the language/processor or language/OS, though I’m hoping for the former. The latter would mean that the processor change wasn’t going to help the bottleneck in the multi-threaded environment (or whatever the issue happened to be). Now that the upgrades are a reality perhaps I can dig into the problem again and see if it’s is no longer an issue.

The performance of Python is important because my web server of choice is Zope and it’s written in Python. Within the next year I’d like to have my web sites on a hosted server instead of sharing space, and I’d rather it be running on a Macintosh. I like the idea of having a Mac because they’re easier to administer when you’re not a system administrator in real life. On the other hand I’d hate to buy a Mini and have it sitting in a dark colocation somewhere with no one to fully appreciate its classy exterior. It would better serve me running Front Row, sitting on top of my entertainment center right next to my Airport Express, and then I could ship a “Dull” to the data center.