Let’s talk iPhone.
Yes, I know I’ve been remiss in discussing this subject, I mean, I think this is only my third post on it in six months. But it’s not as if it’s a subject not being covered by everyone else from major media to recipe sites.
Today the announcement of the phone’s voice and data plans arrived, and I was happy to see that they weren’t astronomically priced — they’re just a $20 premium over my current plan; $20 gets you unlimited data, “visual voicemail” and 200 SMS messages, which I currently have at a cost of $5, so really the upgrade will cost me $15 over what I pay now.
The new iPhone paradigm includes another departure from the old way of doing business. To activate an iPhone, one no longer stands there uncomfortably as the guy in the phone store manhandles and dismantles the phone in order to activate it. Instead, the customer uses iTunes on the computer and does it himself. This is very convenient for the end user, but also for AT&T: they can just sell a phone and move on, getting people in and out of the store quickly and painlessly. It also has one other side effect: if the customer is activating the phone himself, he doesn’t have the opportunity to negotiate with the sales person for discounts or a waiver of the activation fee.
I am enjoying the iPhone mania, it is fun to read all the rumors sites every day and wait breathlessly for the next tidbit of news. Apple is simply the master of this form of “no news” marketing and they have brilliantly stage managed all this. Still, I have to say that I am not the kind of person who wants to go stand in line for anything, whether it is a film premiere or a cell phone. That said, I’m being told that I have no choice, that Jann expects me to accompany him to the Apple store for some line standing. I’m not thrilled with the prospect.
As Steve Jobs says, “One last thing.” To accommodate the three or four people who will visit this site on their iPhone, I’ve created a low-bandwidth, iPhone-centric version of the blog. My other sites might follow suit in the future — I’m not so worried about the designs of the sites since iPhone uses Safari and gives users “the real web” (flash compatibility notwithstanding), but I’m more worried about loading times over the AT&T EDGE network.
Anyway, you can use my new iPhone portal at http://www.genecowan.com/iphone/ .
See you in line on Friday!
Update, 5pm: The one constant where Apple is concerned is that eventually all the little mismatched pieces of their strategies start to come together like a puzzle. Bit by bit, their mad plans start to become clear, and today I think I’ve figured out the latest one. Clearly, they are applying their iTunes/iPod strategy to cellular telephones. The iPhone is a new iPod, designed to clarify and simplify mobile communications the same way the iPod simplified the music industry — substitute AT&T for a big record company, and you’ll understand. After floundering around with different business models and alienating customers, the record companies finally signed on to Apple’s simplified, customer-focused way of selling music and it was a huge success. AT&T has just done the same thing, selling their service in a simplified way using iTunes, letting Apple be the go-between to their customers, and making it work with a stylish, simple consumer device.
And that’s how Apple is changing the mobile industry. Not just with a device, but with a way of interacting with customers.