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Fear and loathing with the upcoming 2008 iPhone

alfred_noworry.jpg I could have just posted a comment in Greg’s post about the iPhone’s SDK and about how scared to hell RIM should be about it. But I think I have quite a mouthful to say about this and since I’ve got the keys to this blog, you’ll have to put up with my long rant disguised as analysis. 😉

Greg focused on the infamous SDK, but that is only one of the things that Apple announced this week. And that is not really the juiciest part of the news. The SDK will help developers make applications a lot more easily, but Apple seem – oh, what a surprise – determined to keep a very tight clasp on what is developed and allowed to be installed on the iPhone. We know what the justification is: security. But we also know that nobody sells and charges dearly for mind-boggling idiosyncrasies like Apple. Nobody really knows what criteria Apple will apply in accepting or rejecting applications into the iStore catalog. Neither does anybody know how much and how often such already muddy criteria will change with the wind, star conjunctions or ebb and flow of the tides.

More important than the SDK, Apple also announced push e-mail and enterprise-focused security features. Well, I am a Blackberry newbie, have had it for 7 months only, but for how many years have RIM been offering these services that Apple haven’t even started offering yet? Seriously, I don’t know. But it’s been a lot. Apple have just announced theirs, they ain’t even running yet.

Side comment: imagine if it had been the other way around, RIM copying something from Apple. Imagine the Apple fan boys gloating about how innovative their idol company is. But the truth is that Apple are still catching up with something that RIM has been doing for years. Apple still are the little tomato who falls behind in the classical joke: catch up, Timmy.

And we don’t know what it is going to be like. Security features from Apple? Hum. The iPhone hackers don’t seem to have had exactly a hard time jailbreaking that phone over and over. Apple’s desktop operating system and browser can’t afford to brag too much down in the pub about how secure they are either. Can Apple really deliver on the security field with the iPhone? That is going to be fun to watch.

What about push e-mail? Oooh, RIM are so doomed… not! I know a bunch of people who hate the Blackberry and rub in my nose that push e-mail can be implemented in just about any phone by means of certain alternatives. Half true. It’s never really the same, the Blackberry e-mail experience remains unmatched even though the aforementioned “just about any phone” includes the likes of Palm, Symbian and Windows Mobile, three platforms that actually let developers develop freely with very little restriction, and don’t act as if they were doing the developers a favor. Actually, why no one else seems capable of matching or even beating the Blackberry experience is something that beats me. It shouldn’t be really that difficult, but anyway… Enter Apple. Four firmware revisions and still no copy-and-paste or multiple SMS recipients in sight. You and what army are going to make me take Apple’s attitude towards communcation and data handling seriously? Look at the entire mindset behind a Blackberry phone. Look at how nearly all possibilities seem to be taken into account. RIM don’t make that kind of goofy blunder. RIM have been making a serious work tool from the ground up. Apple, in comparison, will try to turn what is clearly a toy (pretty much an iPod glued to a phone) into a serious tool, **IF** Steve Job’s formidable egomania really lets that happen as it really should.

There is another very important missing piece in this puzzle: so that is what Apple has to show us in 2008; now what does RIM have to show us in 2008, and how long will it take for Apple to catch up with that? Apple is not the only innovative company around. They only get all the applause and reputation because of their powerful marketing. Apple has a very strong hand on the realm of appearances. But in the real world, other companies have been making strides and RIM certainly is one of them. RIM could come up something big this year too. Who knows? RIM know, Apple don’t, neither do we. Yet. Should RIM fear Apple? We can’t really answer that question until we know what RIM have in storage.

Even if RIM turn up empty-handed in 2008, we can play a little of this guessing game already:

  • how many years will it be until Apple let me use the iPhone as a simple hassle-free pen drive connected to any PC (and when I say “any PC” I really mean any PC: Windows, Linux, Mac, Unix etc.)?
  • how many years will it be until the iPhone can handle as many media formats as a Blackberry rather than just whatever Apple and Steve-in-a-bubble think the whole world should be using because he is too cool for other formats?
  • how many years will it be until the iPhone works without the infamous iTunes, that an awful lot of people hate, but is uncompromisingly imposed on all and sundry by the company that is led by the man who obviously thinks that “a pair of jeans and a turtleneck should be enough to anybody”?
  • how many years will it be until Apple give up on that stupid idea that in order to use any single Apple product, we have to give up on the rest of the world, gladly embrace their entire product line and rock meekly to a handful of condescending music box tunes?
  • how many years will it be until the iPhone has copy-and-paste? That one should go down soon, even Apple wouldn’t be that stubborn and ridiculous;
  • how many years will it be until the iPhone can be used with any headphone or headset, including the Bluetooth ones, without ridiculous hardware hacks?
  • how many years will it be (as Dave Barry would say, I’m not making this up) until the iPhone SDK supports third-party apps’ multitasking?
  • how many years will it be until the iPhone can be used with multiple carriers without requiring Jailbreak?
  • how many years will it be until the iPhone does not require Jailbreak or the unforgiving claws of the iStore’s Politburo to accept third-party applications, and iPhone owners don’t have to mess with their firmware every freaking month?
  • how many years will it be until the iPhone is sold contract-free or with very generous subsidization prices offered with the high usage contracts that big companies typically purchase for their staff?
  • how many years will it be until companies decide it is OK to pay through the nose just so their employees can prance around with a designer label toy, tilting it like children to play games with the accelerometer?

That’s a lot of catching up for Apple to do, and the best part is that Apple’s weird elite designer label policies will never let most of them happen. The worst part is that the above is not just a sulky laundry list of things that make Apple and the iPhone suck. They are rather just a few examples of the serious mentality problem that has made Apple the best and the worst technology company in the world at the same time. Too many times have we been left with the impression that it is run by an idiot savant that comes up with brilliant stuff just as often as he comes up with pointless stuff that just doesn’t make any sense. Here is the big question: how many corporations will be willing to jump on board of that ship under the command of an idiot savant? RIM, in comparison, are slightly less brilliant than Apple, but are nowhere near as often caught making pointless blunders.

Even after Apple officially launch all the promises they made this week, the iPhone will still be much more of a toy than the also fun and media capable but far more serious and robust current line of Blackberries. And RIM haven’t even launched anything new this year yet. If anyone should be looking at the dice and counting the spaces ahead of the opponent with apprehension right now, that one is Apple. It’s RIM’s turn to play, and even before that next turn, RIM have the better cards and a lot more coherence in their designs and decisions.

10 total comments on this postSubmit your comment!
  1. You forgot to mention UMA, GPS, camera flash, IM, free ringtones, voicedialing, removable battery, etc.

  2. The iPhone does have multiple SMS recipients. Do your research before making these ridiculous comments unless you want to lose all credibility. Oh, and buy an iPhone. If you have one, learn how to use it.

  3. Apple fanboy in the house above there… So, out of that long article, that’s all you found. LOL! If I buy an iPhone and learn how to use it, would I learn how to send/receive MMS on it? Oh that’s right, you can’t MMS on an iPhone. Such a basic functionality…. like that recessed headphone jack. HAHA!

  4. Great article but it would have been much better if you had bothered to proofread it, that many gramatical errors makes for a very hard read.

  5. What errors? Maybe you don’t like my treating companies as plural (Apple have) instead of singular (Apple has)?

  6. Wow, that’s spewing a lot of bitterness there. I think for a company that has had a phone out less than a year, Apple is doing quite nicely. You do make a few errors in your understanding of the iphone and Apple, but it’s an opinion piece/Rant, so that’s understandable.

    How many years will it be until RIM lets me use my Blackberry with any PC, and by any, I mean my safer and securer Mac? And by use, I mean, do every single thing I can do with the BB Desktop Manager on Windows but on OSX with RELIABLE software?

    How many years will it be until RIM allows me to use any mpeg 4 video I want to view on my Blackberry without having to recode it? you know, H.264 format. Higher quality, smaller sized videos.

    I could possibly go on but I won’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Blackberry, but it has issues as well. I can’t send MMS messages on it. I can’t watch streaming videos on it.

    You asked a lot of dumb questions in your list rant that are easily answered as well. In the US, it will be another 4.5 years or so before you can use the iphone on another network. That was a business decision and arrangement they made with AT&T. You might have missed that, but now you know.

    You’re complaining about the ‘iStore’ for downloading apps and it’s not even released yet. How would you know what the experience is like for users. They don’t need to use itunes to download apps anyway, they can do it directly from their phone.

    I think you’re missing the point. You’re right, RIM has had years to perfect what they’ve done, and it’s great, but not perfect. What makes you think Apple isn’t planning on taking it slowly and slowly expand and build their product little by little to make it better than not only what it is now, but than any other competitor. They’ve taken the most important market, the consumer market, which is what RIM is actively trying to go after now.

    Anyway, you’re right, Apple may be playing catch up, but guess what? The iphone has been out less than a year and it’s got rave reviews from users, and CEOs are scared of it. If they’ve done that in less than 1 year, imagine what they’ll be doing in, oh, I don’t know, how many years.

  7. I’m a huge Apple/Mac/iPod fan (not quite fan boy status) but I’m also aware that while Apple is a fantastic consumer products company, they’ve never had any success in enterprise sales.

    Why? It’s not unusual. Sony hasn’t really been a great enterprise product company either. Conversely IBM doesn’t send consumer hearts a fluttering.

    This isn’t unique to “tech”. That’s why there are companies like Sysco and others like Procter & Gamble.

    Point is, serving the B2B market is very different than the B2C market. It takes very different skills to produce the right products and services for each.

    I’m not sure I hear any CIOs saying, “OMG bro, we totally need to have iPhones here.”

    Conversely, I don’t see people lining up the night before on the street for the next Berry.

    Forgive me for the pun factor here, but “apples vs. oranges” might as well be “Apples vs. Berries.”

    It’s just not a realistic comparison.

  8. You make some good points, portorikan:
    .
    About Blackberries being too tied to Windows and not supporting OSX, I agree with you 100%. I use Linux, that’s even worse.
    Note that one could argue that it’s not a very fair comparison: RIM are merely focusing on the world’s most popular OS, which has no connection to RIM whatsoever. Apple, on the contrary, force the use of their other own products. But I wouldn’t accept such excuse in favor of RIM. Their support to Mac sucks, support to Linux is non-existant and that must be pointed out as a disadvantage at all times.
    .
    That’s why I can’t agree with your notion of “errors in understanding the iphone and Apple”. So whenever a company does something stupid, it gets away with “it’s not stupid, it’s just you who fails to understand the company and the product”? No, we should not let them get away like that. Apple makes some very nasty mistakes and they shall be pointed out in every opportunity. If you read this site often, you should know that we don’t look the other way when RIM screws up either. Especially Ronen. :-)
    .
    My Blackberry Curve can send and receive MMS messages. What model do you have? Please check with your carrier, they may be imposing restrictions on your usage.
    .
    About Apple’s “business decision and arrangement with AT&T”: please don’t forget the main point of the article: should RIM be afraid of Apple and the new iPhone? Apple have the right to make any business decision and arrangement they damn well please. But at the end of the day, that business decision and arrangement make the iPhone ridiculously expensive. That’s a major disadvantage. Put yourself in the shoes of the procurement department of a company that is considering distributing smartphones to the staff. Would you recommend the iPhone over the Blackberry? Why??? Because it has better media capabilities in spite of its prohibitive cost? Do you pay your staff to sit down and watch movies on their phones? That doesn’t make sense. This cost issue is one of the first things to be taken into consideration in this idea of an Apple vs. RIM war.
    .
    About the iStore: it’s too exclusive and restricted. Apple are not alone in that sad move. Symbian are infuriating a lot of users with their compulsory signature program. That’s just like DRM: they’re introducing evil in the hopes of killing another evil. Look at how successful Palm and Windows Mobile have been without restrictions. They have HUGE third-party software catalogues to please current users and lure new ones. Yeah, yeah, Palm is moribund blah blah blah etc., I read Engadget too. But Palm ain’t definitely dead yet, thanks to the huge number of applications you can find for that platform.
    .
    Besides, the iStore only accepts American money. People from other countries are banned. Once again, main point of the article: should RIM be afraid of Apple and the new iPhone? How does Apple intend to eat RIM’s lunch at the same time banning people from other countries from buying official SDK’ed applications? I am not in the U.S. I can buy ALL existing Blackberry applications if I go nuts and want to. But I can’t buy any song at all from iTunes. What reason do we have to believe this same ban won’t apply on the iPhone applications? If they place that ban on music, why wouldn’t they apply it to a phone that is only sold under very stringent “business decisions and arrangements”?
    .
    We can’t be too proud of RIM in that aspect either. I wish we could rely on a lot more software for the Blackberry. Although RIM do not impose ridiculous restrictions on developers, they certainly don’t make developing for Blackberries easy at all:
    http://www.berryreview.com/2008/01/14/rant-blackberry-platform-not-developer-friendly/
    Bad RIM! Bad RIM!
    .
    And here is another very good link for the fine art of Blackberry hating:
    http://www.berryreview.com/2008/01/25/new-rim-campaign-ask-somebody-why-they-hate-their-blackberry/
    .
    .
    Quote: “How many years will it be until RIM allows me to use any mpeg 4 video I want to view on my Blackberry without having to recode it? you know, H.264 format. (…) I can’t watch streaming videos on it.”
    .
    That is a very good question. And I think it supports my point. The Blackberry wasn’t made for media, entertainment and popular consumer market initially. NOW it’s beginning to encroach there too. Result: the iPhone does it better. Same thing the other way around: the iPhone wasn’t made to be a serious productivity tool initially. NOW it wants to encroach there too. Result: Blackberry has the headstart. Can the iPhone catch up with the Blackberry? That is the entire point of the article. Only time will tell, but I am betting that NO, the iPhone can’t quite catch up with the Blackberry.
    .
    I support my theory with two very clear (and curious IMO) ideas:
    1) the Blackberry is ahead of the iPhone; the iPhone will get better, but so will the Blackberry (I hope so! What seems to be the new 9000 series didn’t exactly get me excited.)
    2) Steve Jobs and Apple are weird. The iPhone (and the Air, incidentally) could be a lot better, but something very weird goes on in that company and they sabotage their own products consistently. Basically, what I am saying is: Apple are going to find a way to screw this up too. They always do.
    .
    The last point is very important. RIM make mistakes too, but they still come across as a very sane company that is not interested in selling one-summer fads and driving their own user base crazy as some sort of overrated woman who tramples on her candidates with stiletto heels “because they like it” if you know what I mean. On the contrary, they seem to be (slowly) trying to give people what they want: magically instant communication, a good camera, now video (with the next firmware release), a media player, A2DP, replaceable battery, expansion card slot, mini USB for data transfers and recharging and last, but not least, extremely standard 3,5mm headphone jacks.
    .
    Apple is totally the opposite: the masses clamor for copy and paste, but they refuse to implement it, and even the wildest mouth-foaming Apple fanboy is unable to provide a plausible explanation. Their headphone jacks are not standard. Complaints. Bluetooth sucks. More complaints. No warm and fuzzy standard mini USB. No card slot. No replaceable battery, and that seems to be some odd policy across the entire product line, like the no-buttons rule. Apple is weird. Just plain weird. Hip, but weird. A lot of people all over the internets have been saying they’re weird and they just can’t help being weird. You can score high with the populace by being hip and weird, just ask any fashion or rock’n’roll fan, but hip’n’weird doesn’t bode that well with the corporate types. Corporate types usually see right through smoke and mirrors and that’s why the Blackberry has succeeded: the Blackberry has not been trying to be hip’n’weird. The Blackberry has been trying to be frank and straightforward like a stare, a proposal and a handshake. I may sound like an ordinary Apple hater sometimes, and I guess I really am, but the upshot of all this is that Apple is weird, so I’m not putting much hope on them. RIM should be wary, of course, but I think RIM is saner, will make saner choices and will prevail in the long run.
    .
    This has become too long. Sorry about the lack of proofreading. Come one, it’s just a blog where we get around and chat. I’ll be more careful the next time, OK? Great comment, Leo Persica. I used a little bit of that in my conclusion. Thank you for your comments, everyone.

  9. This is a jumping little article isn’t it. It seems to have stirred up a few emotions.
    I have just read a survey of CB about whether people would use the iPhone as a serious bit of business equipment. The results are at around 85% against…(But this is on a CrackBerry site and if the same question was asked on an Apple forum you could just about guarantee the same results in the opposite direction…
    A lawyer has also posted about how the iPhone carrier lock is actually unlawful in Australia. It will actually be in breach of Australian anti-competitive laws (ie: price fixing). So we might not be seeing the iPhone in Oz for a while.

  10. Don’t get me wrong, I am no Apple fanboy. In fact, I am huge BlackBerry lover. But that had to be the worst article I’ve ever read. Save the rants for the forums!

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