You’d think Steve Jobs has discovered the Holy Grail of consumer electronics innovation/marketing given how people are falling over themselves getting on the iPhone bandwagon. BusinessWeek does its best to flame the raging iPhone fires by suggesting the yet-to-be-launched device “has the potential for adding a totally new $10-billion-a-year-business within a few years”. I guess BusinessWeek’s gues-estimate is based on the assumption the iPhone will capture the imagination of smart phone-starved customers in the say way as the ubiquitious iPod did a few years ago.
Maybe I’m blowing hot air into the wind only to be proved wrong by the iJobs magic but I think far too many people are forgetting that Apple is wading into ultra-competitive waters with the iPhone. It’s not like there’s a lack of cool devices already on the market – Blackberry, Razr, Crazr, etc. And with prices starting at $499, the iPhone strikes me as being beyond the reach of the average consumers – although this is probably Apple trying to make the iPhone a premium item out of the gate while giving it wiggle room down the road to lower prices.
At the same time, you have to remember the MP3 market was ripe for the picking when the iPod was launched in October 2001. Sure, Creative Labs and iRiver were around but there was no dominant player and none of the devices on the market had captured the imagination of consumers with their design or functionality. The iPod was simply the right product at the right time in a market starved for something special. And to Apple’s credit, they done a terrific job extending the brand with new iterations and, of course, iTunes.
The iPhone, on the other hand, is still a unclear proposition even as the hype machine drives into over-drive. While it will probably sell like hot cakes out of the gate as bleeding-edge, leading-edge and trend-followers scramble to be first on the block to have one, let’s see how the iPhone does after the initial rush subsides. If I’m wrong, I’ll happily eat crow and bow before the iJobs marketing shrine.
Update: Apple adds to the “excitement” with a press release today that the iPhone will have up to eight hours of talk time, six hours of Web use, seven hours of video playback or 24 hours of video playback.