Innovation will be Key Factor in Success of 'iPhone'

by Joe Leo, Columnist November 17, 2006

NEWS: (11.17.06)-- With all the hype of a non-Mac competitor product being released today, the Sony "Playstation 3" console, and millions of people lining up (some since Monday) to get their hands on the new product, will the same scenario surface when Apple finally debuts a new consumer "portable" in early 2007?

Rumors of an Apple cell phone dubbed an "iPhone" were finally confirmed this week (albeit unofficially, and not by Apple) by various reports around the web about the Mac-maker placing large orders for various individual components required to build the new product. The question on everyone's minds is the popular saying, "If you build it, will they come?"

Two months ago, discussed the notion that Apple's status as the leader in innovation was the double-edged sword in Apple's arsenal. The, "feather in your hat" if you will. Specifically, the article touched base with the MacBook, PowerBook, and iPod designs. Today, that discussion moves front and center with the "iPhone."

The factor that can make, or break, Apple's most highly-anticipated product in quite sometime (though people will agree to disagree on that part).

News of the soon-to-be-released "iPhone" from Apple-- if that's what it will be called when it is officially released --said to possibly be announced in January at Macworld Expo 2007, was the hot topic yesterday around Mac news sites across the nation and on one of the top business/consumer-related stories featured on CNBC's news program "On the Money."

Anchor and host Dylan Ratigan began the segment with a recount summary of the news tidbit itself, that Apple was planning to release a cell phone, adding that the product would have the iPod at its core. This was his (or editorial's) basis for the discussion with two of his guests, both apparently on Apple's side of the court (which, speaking of editorializing, seems to have been his/their mistake).

Ratigan mentioned all the stereotypes associated with Apple's products, such as the oool factor, the hip design, etc.-- things that don't need to be discussed with Mac users. With the "iPhone" on its way and the iPod at its core, what will the product have that other phones/mp3 players don't have, thus leading to its popularity and more importantly, the business/money factor: what does it have that will make it sell?

"If you build it, will they come?"-- our take and angle on the situation.

The first guest (our apologies as we didn't catch the identification of the guest during notetaking nor on CNBC's website after the segment aired) tried to address the topic as best as he could, but unfortunately, an argument ensued between the guest and anchor Ratigan over Apple's share of the market, which as we know, is a whole new topic off subject, but related still (and can be discussed all day long).

Ratigan commented that, "If it were not for the iPod, Macs [computer hardware] would be relegated to Graphic Designers...," bringing up his own figures of Mac market share, touting 95% for PCs and 5% for Macs. His guest immediately became defensive and began to argue the statement that Ratigan had just made.

As the first guest tried to comment/respond, Ratigan talked over him, but being the professional journalist he is supposed to be, immediately (and thankfully) dropped the subject, realizing that they had gone off topic, and restated the question. "What's the innovation?" the thing that will make this new Apple cell phone, sell?

The first guest, speaking of selling, did not sell himself too well on his answer, having been caught off guard from the previous battle they were having over Apple's market share. His response leaned toward unique features that the "iPhone" was purported to have (our research and analysis points to the guest quoting recent patents that Apple applied for and "won" that did not specifically deal with a cell phone).

Things like a touch screen, wireless video conferencing, "...those kinds of things," that other products on the market don't currently have.

CNBC's anchor responded to that comment pointing out that there are a lot of cell phones currently on the market and available to the consumer. Add to that the various wireless service providers-- to which he added that Apple apparently wanted the product to be proprietary in all forms, including their own wireless service, but recently changed their minds --and, "...Apple will have some competition on their hands."

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