That new iPod phone

I’m writing this about twenty minutes after the Macworld keynote and I’m sure you’ve already heard of this little gadget: the iPhone. Sure looks cool: mobile phone+ iPod + web browser. WiFi. Bluetooth. 4 & 8 GB flash memory.

Seeing as we don’t live in the US, I wonder which Canadian carrier will eventually sell it. Since Apple seems to be exclusively locked with Cingular in the US, and Cingular runs on a GSM network, expect to see this from Rogers, IMHO. Because it is a GSM phone, there is always the possibility of getting an unlocked phone and popping in your Fido or Rogers SIM in. I’m not sure this is necessarily going to work for this little piece of technology, though. The keynote outlines the ability to get voicemail “a la carte”, sorta like opening an email message (so if you really want to listen to message #5, you don’t have to listen to the preceding 4 messages). I’m not sure how or what kind of changes that need to take place on the carrier side of things for this to happen. Most likely, if unlocked iPhones appear north of the border, this little piece of technology won’t work. I’ll be interested in hearing more about the changes on the carrier side of things in order to make this phone a reality.

I can’t help but wonder what this means for the iPod proper. Is this the new iPod (6th generation), or are we going to see widescreen iPods with HD and larger capacities? For my own sake, I hope the answer is yes. For one, I just bought an unlocked Treo 680 and don’t have the disposable income to buy another “mobile phone plus.” My iTunes library tops out at 19.83 GB and no longer fits on my 4th generation 20 GB iPod. I like having all my music on one device. I’ve had to jump through all sorts of hoops to get a reasonable selection of music on my iPod now that it all can’t fit. And, frankly, not thinking about how the music gets from my computer to the iPod is part of the appeal of the gadget. So, if we’re topping out at 8 GB, I can’t help but think that will force more people to worry about this and make a once seamless step, well, not so seamless. I’m sure the Apples have thought long and hard about the capacity and I’m some weird outlier who likes all their music on their device. Otherwise, it makes a compelling product less so in my eyes.

Update: So, after reading this Time article, seems as though the demands that I suggested Apple has put on the carrier side of things was right:

Jobs demanded special treatment from his phone service partner, Cingular, and he got it. He even forced Cingular to re-engineer its infrastructure to handle the iPhone’s unique voicemail scheme. “They broke all their typical process rules to make it happen,” says Tony Fadell, who heads Apple’s iPod division. “They were infected by this product, and they were like, we’ve gotta do this!”

2 Comments

  1. Scott loeb

    Gavan,

    The phone looks pretty cool, and I was pretty excited throughout the whole keynote. I do agree – an 8GB capacity is excellent by comparison to other phones, but miniscule in comparison to other media players. I can’t imagine that integration is the next step in the Apple media player market. Once they’ve upped the storage capacities to at least 30/80GB it might be a worthwhile investment, but like you I don’t want to have to think about the music I might want to listen to later.

    Hope all is well with you!

    Scott

  2. Hey Scotty.

    As flash memory gets cheaper, I suspect that Apple may just replace the whole Hard Drive with flash (i.e. 30 GB of Flash Memory). As an added bonus, when you remove the spinning platters of a traditional HD, you get better battery performance, which Apple always seem to need.
    I\’ll bet that Apple, Inc. is waiting for the cost of flash memory to drop before they get rid of iPod proper.

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