I was hoping to make it over to Moscone today to breathe a little of whatever is in the air at MacWorld. In the past few days, I’ve had numerous people tell me with great excitement how great the new iPhone is. I’ve heard people referring to Steve Jobs as a marketing god. I’ve watched the Apple, Inc. stock jump, just as it does almost every January when Jobs throws back the curtain on the latest revolution. Give me some of that kool-aid, because I’m not seeing all the bright colors today.
To be sure, Jobs is certainly a genius. He’s hit more out-the-park home runs in marketing, in more arenas, driving more revenue, than almost anyone. But he also has a fair share of duds, which is only natural, but which everyone seems to forget in January. The latest, before the iPhone, was the MacMini, which was supposed to drive a revolution in small desktop machines.
I still remember back in, what was it, 1999, when the 5-color iMacs were unveiled. I remember seeing the great creative ads, and thinking, what?, the great revolution here is colored computers? And then it hit me like a ton of bricks how mind-numbingly brilliant that was. Yes. Color, style in computing. We all had clunky beige boxes with no pinache, and Jobs made computers cool. And the iPod. Jobs took those clunky MP3 players with no memory and turned them into a simple, powerful and cool device for bringing more music into your day. Phenomenal.
But what does the iPhone bring to mobile phones? Everything the iPhone does, I can already do on my Treo. Sure, the UI looks streamlined and the package is pure Apple sex, but the mobile phone industry isn’t exactly lacking in revolutionary spark–a hot new design from Motorola, Samsung or Nokia comes out, what, every Tuesday? The iPhone won’t even be available until June.
Everyone on the planet with an ounce of interest in this space has been waiting for Apple to merge the iPod with a phone for generations (product, not human) so this wasn’t exactly unexpected. And yet everyone gasped when the iPhone was unveiled. That is Jobs’ true genius. But if Apple was really on its game, they would have had the iPhone ready to ship today. In six months time, it may prove to be the next MacMini instead of the next iPod.