back to article Apple proves: It pays to be late

This week Apple threw the kitchen sink at its iPhone/Touch software stack (details outlined here), removing most of the most irritating nuisances at a stroke. It's a stunning achievement. So Apple now finds itself where everyone else in the mobile handset business wanted to be 15 years ago. Large companies full of clever …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    License the iPhone OS

    Is SymbianOS really the problem for Nokia? Or is it S60? Can someone out there run the iPhone OS on a usually underpowered Nokia handset and see what the performance is like?

  2. Bruno Girin

    Good overview

    Completely agree: Apple came late and with a phone that had a limited set of feature compared to the competition but what it did, it did very well. As for Nokia, they have a simpler option than licensing Apple's OS: bring Maemo from the tablets to the phones. However, what they will also need is an application store built on the same lines as the iPhone one, which is what they're already doing IIRC.

    Interesting times ahead in that market and thanks Apple for rocking the boat of the network providers!

  3. Will Wykeham
    Thumb Up

    Yes, but

    I agree with almost everything said here. Only 'almost' though:

    I really don't think different versions of the iPhone ('iPhone photo' 'iPhone touch') are likely to appear. There is nothing like the iPhone - a statement where the emphasis is on 'THE'. Whether correct or not, I feel Apple will would see multiple models as a dilution of the the brand. One major alternative (iPhone Nano) maybe, but more than that would be counter-productive.

    As pointed out Apple have done well by not going for market segmentation and ticking all the boxes, but going for the one killer product that completely outdoes the competition in that zone.

    While I'm quite sure the writer is aware of the difference, he has somewhat blurred the boundary between OS (Symbian) and UI (S60). Nokia are actually in a strong position of running Symbian which is a good solid base for running proper native applications. Faster task switch is mentioned as a problem on the iPhone - the iPhone doesn't DO task switching, there is no multi-tasking at the application level, it merely gives the impression of it with stateful application switching, whereas a Symbian Phone can task switch all day, my E71 will happily run Gmail, Google Maps and my Calendar all at once.

    Now as it happens I quite like S60, but then I'm happy to read e-mail from a command line, so I'm not a good example. Perhaps Nokia are following the mantra of 'it pays to be late'. They got beaten to the punch with swish UI's, they might as well wait for the dust to settle from the Pre, and then wander onto the pitch and knock all the young'uns for 6, having seen all the lessons they've learnt.


  4. B

    How would that work exactly?

    I have trouble with some of the suggestions for the iPhone. I would agree that a better camera, video, Flash, and background processes would be nice additions. I don't miss them, but they would be nice to have. But a physical keyboard instantly kills the advantages of the iPhone and turns it into something crappy like a blackberry. The advantage of no physical keyboard is that the keyboard can be modified via softare (as they did at least once already) and you get the new improved version without having to buy new hardware. Along the same lines the budget iPhone nano makes no sense either. Right now an iPhone is $200 with a contract. A nano product would be smaller, rendering the screen real estate unusable for much of the functionality it has now. So now you have a crippled phone (like every other manufacturer makes) and you sell it for what? $99? $49? You've saved the customer very little money and you've destroyed the usability of the phone.

    I just don't see a physical keyboard nor a nano version happening. I think those suggestions often come from people who don't understand the design decisions Apple made when creating the iPhone, or how they envision the device being used by their customers.

  5. Andrew Thomas

    Not for me

    The iPhone is undoubtedly a wonderful product, but it's simply far too large to be carried in my pocket comfortably. Also, I prefer a proper keyboard with buttons. So I prefer a smaller, specialist phone.

  6. GhilleDhu

    I wish they'd get there finger out....

    Put simply the only thing stopping me ditching my N82, is the woeful camera on the iPhone. At the moment I carry my 16GB Touch and phone around,, but I'm not willing to sacrifice the jump between the cameras resolution. Roll on July, but certainly now with my breath held....

  7. Jez Caudle
    Jobs Halo

    Now this was very good until ...

    ... you stated that Apple should make loads of different phones.

    You mention the low end of the mobile market having razor thin margins. The only way to make money is to make cheap phones that are plastic crap. Just like the PC biz Apple is leaving other companies to have a race to the bottom while it keeps turning out high quality kit.

    If you like Apple is an expensive 'escort' who leaves you feeling like you've had the Girl Friend Experience. The other phone/PC makers are the street prostitutes who leave you feeling grubby and ashamed (and with an itch) as you know you are feeding their crack habit.

    I know which one I'd like to suck my cock.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Apples' sucess

    is down to the fact you can only buy one iPhone (memory limits aside) whereas Nokia has 5 zallion* models, as does Sony,Palm etc.

    Doing only one model means everyone gets it, level playing field etc etc. The phone operators can then do their own price plans (extra text, data etc etc) to be different from each other (or own price bands - cheap estate yobs or business paid-for yuppies).

    One advert, one model. Any colour (as long as it's black etc etc).

    Basically Apple is keeping it simple because their target audience is simple.

    Speaking about KISS and simple....

  9. Ross Fleming
    Thumb Up


    Good God, a balanced iPhone article on el reg - do my eyes deceive me??

    Enjoyable read - nice one. :-)

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    US market

    This is a no brainer in the US. Americans are very patriotic and will buy American products in preference. Why buy a European phone when a cool US device exists?

    Motorola used to dominate the market, but lost the plot. Apple have simply taken this over, barging their way in with a device that left Motorola dead in the water. However, it was still US vs US companies.

    Motorola's response? - ditch the highly developed and well understood Symbian OS and back the completely unknown quantity that is Android instead. Same reason behind this though - Android perceived as American, Symbian OS is European.

  11. Jessica Werkz

    @Will Wykeham

    "Perhaps Nokia are following the mantra of 'it pays to be late'. They got beaten to the punch with swish UI's, they might as well wait for the dust to settle from the Pre, and then wander onto the pitch and knock all the young'uns for 6, having seen all the lessons they've learnt"

    Did you learn nothing from reading that article?

  12. Jessica Werkz

    @Apples' sucess

    "Basically Apple is keeping it simple because their target audience is simple."

    Sounds like a Nokia owner.

  13. Rolf Howarth

    @Andrew Thomas

    Too large? I admit I was a bit worried about that before I bought my iPhone but actually, it's so thin that it slips into either a front or back trouser pocket very easily without you even noticing it's there. Quite literally so... on more than one occasion I've frantically searched the house trying to locate my iPhone only to find it was in my pocket the whole time!

  14. Anonymous Coward

    What's wrong with Nokia's S60 UI?

    It works perfectly fine on my 5800... and strangely enough, I've played with an iPhone before. So... again, where's the fuss?

  15. Adam Starkey

    @Will Wykeham

    Whilst I also don't necessarily see the draw of Apple running multiple lines of iPhones, you're not quite right when you say "I feel Apple will would see multiple models as a dilution of the the brand", I think you're forgetting the iPhone's closest corporate relative, the iPod. Apple have clearly 'diluted' the brand here. Once upon a time the iPod was the iPod. Nowadays, it's everything from that ridiculous new nano thing, all the way up to the iPod Touch. There are flash versions, hard drive versions. Some have screens, some don't. Some come in a thousand fruity flavours, ... well you get the idea.

    At this point, the iPod Touch is closer to the PDA you always wished Palm would have made, than the original iPod. It's a long way away from the "it does one thing and does it well" ethos that was the original iPod mission statement.

    So yeah, I disagree with Andrew Orlowski's take on where Apple should take the iPhone, but if Apple see a way of creating new product lines that wont cause too much user confusion, don't doubt they'll do it.

  16. Andy
    Thumb Up

    I dislike the Title field

    The media cycle continues – the rest of the press is cooling off on Apple, whilst El Reg (ever the contrarian) begins to defrost. It's cute!

    Not sure I follow your logic towards the end; Apple's great strength has been a unified product, done well... so they should diversify into different lines, and abandon that? As other commenters have pointed out, that doesn't seem like a great idea. Although, a certain amount of differentiation could be accommodated (eg., better camera added, or some features missing – like the iPod Touch doesn't have a cell radio or GPS), it seems like this would probably be more trouble, and cause more confusion, than it's worth.

  17. Hywel Thomas
    Thumb Up

    No need for specalist versions...

    ... it's got that dock. Better cameras, phantom powered condenser mics etc could be added fairly easily.

    Better advice would be for every other manufacturer to make fewer phones. SE cut its _to_ 78 models recently. 78 is ludicrous. I'd get it down to 5 or 6. Any more than 10 is insanity.

    Nice article.

  18. N

    Simplicity wins

    I just cant see the point have something really unnecessarily complicated, the Americans spent zillions of dollars developing a biro that would work in space whilst the Russians used a pencil.

    No pun intended, but if a phone is too complicated you just either get pissed off with it or dont use the complex bits, my wife has an iPhone & its not only straightforward to use, but quite good fun as well.

  19. Andrew Orlowski (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: Gasp

    Ross - right from launch, I hoped the iPhone would shake up both sides of the mobile business, and that Apple's innovation and aesthetics would be rewarded.

    see ;-)

    And I'd still be using mine if it wasn't so slow. (Compare checking your accounts in Profimail on an E71 with an iPhone 3G)

  20. John

    Problem with Nokia

    As one of the ex-EMCC who left to work on the iPhone I can say it's Symbian AND S60 (plus UIQ which was also awful).

    The problem is that it was an OS that was designed for low powered devices years ago and now has major structural problems that basically prevent Nokia from doing much to improve that. If you ask me Nokia should just wrap it up, and use Android or buy Palm for their Web OS which looks VERY nice.

    However as I saw at EMCC, it's probably the case at Nokia that too many people have put their reputations or it's where their skills lie behind Symbian and therefore will ignore the issue until it's too late.


    But I don't think it's the performance of the phones hardware. I think the N95 actually beats the iPhone in OpenGL benchmarks.

  21. B

    Replies galore

    @us market

    As an American who can't swing a dead cat without hitting another American (I'm surrounded by the bastards!) I have to disagree with your assessment of Americans buying phones because they are perceived to be American made. While a small segment of the population undoubtedly feels this way (hardcore union members with cult-like devotion come to mind), most Americans don't care. I'll bet only 1 out of 10 Americans could tell you the home country of many phone manufacturers and far less than that would have a clue that Android was released by Google. A small subset of them are technophiles and would know, but most technophiles just want a device based on certain specs, not country of origin. I believe the iPhone is a hit because Apple released a device where all functionality was easy to use, unlike any other cell phone over her released by any other manufacturer (foreign or domestic).

    @Jez Caudle

    Your post is one of the finest posts I've ever seen. You and I obviously share the same gift of using vivid, clarifying analogies. I find that creating a prostitute analogy clarifies an issue far greater than anything else I could possibly do. If you are trying to make an argument and you really want to pound it home (no pun intended) then go for the prostitute analogy.

  22. Lantz


    @Adam Starkey

    "Nowadays, it's everything from that ridiculous new nano thing, all the way up to the iPod Touch."

    Let's see, the Shuffle, Nano and Touch. That makes 3, you covered 2, wow I guess that's "EVERYTHING". If you want to say 4 by mentioning the Classic, well that's just a leftover from early days and doesn't really count. The Touch is the replacement for the Classic and represents the high end music player. The other 2 were created to grab up the bottom end of the music player field.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would like to complain in the strongest terms possible

    about the almost complete absence of anti-Apple bias in this article. Indeed, it can almost be read as suggesting that The Register in some way tacitly approves of an Apple product, and I'm we're all aware that this represents the thin end of the wedge. Before we know it there'll be a grudgingly impressed review of the latest Mac Pro, thoughtful analysis on the release of OS X Snow Leopard an wholesale delight at the next iPod revision. Stop the rot before it starts, say I, and down with this sort of thing.

  24. This post has been deleted by its author

  25. jai

    multiple iphones

    I also can't see Apple producing multiple iphone models

    they said they were only looking to get 1% of the market within 2008

    they've done that, they're probably looking at getting 5% next, but not looking for total market control yet

    and anyway - they're computer and ipod ranges aren't diversified. Apple don't like to be mediocre in all ranges, they prefer to be good in just one or two.

  26. richard

    @ N

    that story about NASA's pen and the Russian's pencil is an urban myth....a pencil wasn't allowed in case the lead broke off and got stuck in an air duct or something...

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    So much potential

    and still a shit phone

  28. J
    Jobs Horns

    @Yes, but

    "Whether correct or not, I feel Apple will would see multiple models as a dilution of the the brand. "

    Not necessarily. As mentioned above, they have done it with the iPod...

    Now the question is: was the iPod brand diluted? I don't think so, but depends on what you mean by diluted. It seems to me like the iPod brand is still quite strong.

  29. Chris Silver badge


    "If you want to say 4 by mentioning the Classic, well that's just a leftover from early days and doesn't really count. The Touch is the replacement for the Classic and represents the high end music player."

    My wife has a 16GB Touch and absolutely loves it because she never had more than about 8-9GB of music on her old 120GB iPod, and the combination of wifi and decent browser means she can check her regular online haunts without having to lug her laptop all around the house with her.

    Me, on the other hand... yeah, the PDA-ness of the Touch appeals to me, but I've already got a Touch that provides all my PDA needs, it just wears a HTC logo instead of an Apple one. And I've got roughly 120GB of stuff on my Classic with probably 10-15GB more waiting to be encoded/transferred off the PC, so the idea of even the 32GB Touch being a replacement for it really doesn't work for me. Now, if there was a Touch with at least 128GB of storage, for around 200 quid, then I'd be interested. Until then, the only replacement for the Classic is another Classic.

  30. Anonymous Coward

    @Jessica Werkz

    "Did you learn nothing from reading that article?"

    On the contrary, I think Will hit the nail on the head.

    Apple are selling a single product concept - THE Jesus Phone/THE iPhone.

    and @ Adam Starkey

    The iPod is a different product entirely although part of the same brand family - Apple have been careful to keep this distinct in the eyes of the consumer. The similarity is in the Apple brand generic (like Hoover or Heinz) not the target of the product per se.

    No, Apple will not bring out a family of iPhones with subtle distinction of functionality and size, they will be careful to maintain the distinctivity of the iPhone, although they will continue to upgrade their current offering of it. The main dstinction of the iPhone is the large handy touch display - making a small one makes it just another fancy phone.

  31. Paul
    Thumb Down


    "recall the tumbleweed that blew through empty stores when O2 and Carphone first launched the iPhone in the UK"

    --well thats not true is it ?! it was covered in the news, queues of people outside most apple, o2 and carphone warehouse stores...

  32. Ted

    The iPhone camera is rather excellent...

    Just a bit of a rant... I'm so tired of people that have never seen an image taken by an iPhone, but then go out of their way to complain about it... trust me, as the user of over 12 camera phones in the last 8 years... they are all CLUELESS.

    Megapixels aren't nearly as important as the LENS... the iPhone is in the upper 90% of cell phones in this area, the images coming out of iPhones are far superior to most all cell phones. They only see "megapixels" and mistakenly think that is an indication of "quality"... which is untrue!

    Wake up people, the iPhone produces better images than most all cell & smartphones... take a look at real images from any iPhone model:

    2MB does NOT equate to quality... learn how digital camera operate!

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Halo

    Very good article

    Though as with others I struggle with the question of whether or not more models of iPhone would dilute the brand. I can see both sides of the issue but at the end of the day I kind of have to come down on the side of slowly introducing at least a couple different models. I don't see it as a race to bottom edge of the market sector but simply expanding the available options and further generating "good will" so to speak among people who may at this time be on the fence. Lets face it they have more than proven (with the iPod being just one example) similar products with different features that speak to a specific market segment.

    Now is there a risk that in doing so the dilution that many fear would occur and Apple would have to play catch up? Certainly, but if done carefully they could get some very good tests of those other waters while still protecting their main interests.

  34. jai

    re: @Yes, but

    but how long did they take to dilute the ipod brand? there were many years were the only ipod was the form factor that we now refer as the "classic" model

    and it's still only really 3 models - the Touch if anything is part of the iPhone brand, just with the pesky battery-draining phone options removed

  35. Adam Starkey


    "the Classic, well that's just a leftover from early days and doesn't really count. The Touch is the replacement for the Classic and represents the high end music player."

    So neither the Nano or the Touch offer storage capacities greater than 16GB, whereas the Classic offers 120GB, and in your world the Classic exists purely because someone at Apple forgot to remove it from this year's product line-up.

    Don't be a pillock. The Classic will be around at least until the Touch can reach 64GB at an acceptable price point, and even then, it'll likely still have a place in the market. It exists, because it fulfills a need that none of the other iPods can. So, yeah, there are *four* products in the iPod line, all of which are very different, and are marketed in very different ways.

    Anyway, what was your actual point again?

  36. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    One model makes sense

    Because Apple just have to brand 'iPhone'. Their latest campaign is about the number of apps:

    'only on iPhone'

    Adding new models implies that some apps won't work on some models or won't offer the full range of functionality - and that's a way of pissing people off.

    Sony Ericsson, whilst they're still with us, constantly has to struggle to tell customers the differences between its nigh on indistinguishable and bafflingly named phones. They've already lost the marketing war.

  37. P. J. Isserlis

    But I want a mobile phone

    Nobody tells me if it is a good 'PHONE what is the reception like? Can one hear clearly? Does it ring/vibrate loudly/hard enough to be heard/felt on a noisy tram? The battery of my simple Nokia (3.2M camera, alarm, calendar, good SMS/MMS) lasts for nearly a week of light, daily use and still for two or three days of really heavy use, including travelling (I notice that travelling by train or car drains the battery, presumably because the 'phone is working hard to keep a signal as it changes cells). It looks decent too and is genuinely small enough not to look like a teaplate against the ear.

    In other words: I want a powerful telephone, with good message sending/receiving, decent alarm/calendar, loud ring and, really important, long battery life for those logn weekends away when I really do not want to carry a charger. A decent camera is a definite "nice to have". Oh, it should be small enough not to compete for space with all the other things one has to carry in one's pockets nowadays and robust enough to survive the usual drops, knocks and crushes of real life.

    So, much as I like Apple computers (I've got one, Death to all Windows), tell me, can the iPhone compete with a cheap, simple Nokia for that lot? Or is it really only for the man/woman wearing a jacket/handbag and being very careful not to lean against the bar, crushing the device nicely? And if it is running a form of OS X, why can it not do multi-tasking? Has it managed to learn British English or Swiss German or are we still expected to become American? (my biggest gripe against Apple computers).

  38. Gene Feierstein

    Complete agreement

    "Basically Apple is keeping it simple because their target audience is simple."

    Exactly right - which is why I LOVE my iPhone!

  39. Ross Fleming
    Thumb Up

    re: gasp

    I remember it Andrew, and agree with pretty much everything you've had to say.

    But you can understand my surprise given some of the other articles that just pan it :-) I'm sure there are others if I could be @rsed to find them

    Agreed Mail is slow. I've found proxying everything over VPN works rather well due to the inherent compression that comes with it (and I have a funny feeling the DNS servers leave a lot to be desired with O2, causing most of the slow down).

  40. Philip

    So does this mean....

    ...that El Reg will stop trumpeting every new phone, mp3 player, craptop, lawnmower and food processor as being the next 'Apple *[insert product here] Killer'?

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mental Sheep

    The author excellently explains in the first half of the article how the Apple iPhone does things the right/Apple way, and dominates the market. This way of business is the complete opposite of what the other companies were doing.

    In the second half the author reverts to a mental sheep, going baa, baa, but Apple HAS to do things the way the looser companies did it to stay ahead.

    Apple will do business the way it is doing it now. The iPhone will only get better, it will not splinter into 20 different devices.

  42. Lou Gosselin

    This is entirely correct.

    "In their wisdom networks have done all kind of similar things over the years - disabling Wi-Fi, for example, or blocking ports. But most of all in their pricing policies for data."

    Every potentially interesting phone manufactured is locked down in a stroke of brilliance by the networks. I wanted to develop MidP Bluetooth applications to control a home automation server via bluetooth, the Nokia SDK had support for it. The kicker was that Cingular disabled all 3rd party MidP functionality of the phone including letting the user run his own Bluetooth apps. I've seen networks sell phones with disabled WiFi also.

    For a decade the networks have routinely blocked all innovative potential because they wanted to control innovation, as a result, innovation was stamped out.

    Apple came along and produced a phone where it appeared to be innovative, but in reality it was simply unencumbered by many of the restrictions networks placed on other phones. Apple definitely benefits from being a status symbol and can charge 70% more for that reason, but their true innovation is embracing third party development with their iphone store. Although personally I am still extremely disappointed that the iphone must be jailbroken to install any apps by oneself. This control Apple reserved for itself is an obvious avenue for someone to come along and sell an even "more innovative" phone.

    The bottom line, sell a phone that is open and innovation will follow as it did with the PC/internet. This is what people want and as apple has demonstrated, are willing to pay for.

    All I hope is that their success convinces everyone else to overturn decades of bad decisions.

  43. Martin Lyne


    Dilution of the brand should be secondary to dilution of purpose. I'm more likely to spend an extra £50 on a phone if it has a very good camera/screen etc.. Making a version with a shoddy camera just infuriates people as if they wanted something with good EVERYTHING, they cannot get it in one device.

    HTC need to learn this lesson with their cameras.

    iPhone Nano is where they'll go, everyone loves things that do the same as X but in half the size.

    If they really want to to be fancy they could stick a mini projector in it for when you want to watch films or run size-dependant iPhone apps but the screen is too small.

    Still wouldn't buy one myself, but undoubtedly the iPhone hugely publicising touchscreen tech and making it available is a factor in it's success, you think it would have been as popular with a normal keypad and screen? Add to that an existing fanbase for Macs and you've got yourself a free, frenzied word-of-mouth ad campaign.

    I liked this article as it answers the question I raised the other day to a friend, why did they stop the fold-out keyboard (n-gage-esque) designs? My friend had one and it was flimsy but showed potential.

  44. Alex D

    there are going to be new iphones

    Anyone else see the news that there are codes for iphone 2,1 and Ipod 3,0 in the in the latest software relesae? given that the current ipone is 1,2 this leads to the idea that there will be atleast 2 whole revisions of the iphone... most likely a 'nano' as the accessories are already being made for it and will be intended for China and probably a more 'pro' edition as described.

    Appealing to larger segments of the (still all top part of the) market is pretty simple business sense.

    With S60- The general impression I get is that people always loved Nokias as the interface was rock-solid and super fast (in comparisson to all the other older OSs). Dont discount the want for simple but works over flashy and never gonna use.

  45. Bad Beaver

    For a tenner?!

    I'm amazed. In Germany, you get 200MB HSDPA for €25. If you want flat data, you're looking at €45 minimum and you'll still pay through the nose for most calls & texts unless for some reason all your contacts like to get shafted by T-Mobile too.

    @ Ted: 100% ACK. One can take very decent snaps with the iPhone.

  46. Jerome

    So that's the problem

    "So the classic technique for a successful manufacturer is to differentiate"

    Ah, I wondered why I've been waiting a decade for a single device that does everything I need, despite there being no technical barriers whatsoever to its inception. I guess I'll just have to stick with my 5 year old Sony Ericsson a while longer.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Nice analysis

    Yes, some people buy Apple to be "cool" but to let that obscure the actual innovation they do, I always find to be amusing. They've managed to do the impossible: design products that appeal to users that minimize/quit every app before using another (and view in a full-screen window), AND technophiles...

    (I guess everyone doesn't have to dig it, but at least give Apple credit for fighting back at a recidivist monopolist and creating/upending a whole new segment.)

    @Andy: haha. I was thinking the same thing...El Reg may actually get invited to an Apple event -- as long as they don't allow Bill Ray to post another snide, childish, pointless article following the next update. Whoops, spoke too soon.

    @Ted: Good point about the camera quality. It's limited, but can take great photos in many popular use-cases, as seen on Flickr. Great geo-tagging too. ;)

    @Andrew: Great analysis. I think too many have avoided mentioning what an earthquake Apple has caused with its iPhone and business model.

    Fred Vogelstein at Wired, I think was also early in describing what has happened.


    Whatever is in the future, Apple do not seem to be letting up in continuing to kick everyone else down the the most professionally humiliating and public way, I can imagine.

    I mean, come on, if you're a product manager or VP or President, of a handset company or network operator, how have you been looking in the mirror after January 2007 or June? Designing sad, me-too, single-touch (not multi-touch) devices that crash or don't do anything new or better or easier?

    All the whining I read about specific features or voice memos or MMS or group delete, cut/paste, tethering, turn-by-turn, or whatever is laughable. Yes, these are important features if you're used to them on your old POS handset. But, guess what?? Next software update...done, or the next; or get a new app; same hardware; for free -- app, may not be free; and try to continue justifying to yourself to not get one.

    (Having said that, Andrew's point about email acct switching can be improved. I'm sure they'll just add a new config to double-click or triple-click the Home button and it'll auto-switch...possibilities are endless. I'm roaming in Brasil now, and if I do many tasks quickly, being on a roaming network -- not wifi -- seems to lag the iPhone OS sometimes...nothing a dual-core iPhone with PA Semi input and better network code won't fix.)

    My sense is other device manufacturers will heed this vision: cameras, autos, appliances, TVs, DVRs, anything with software will now become upgradeable. This old, stupid idea of planned hardware obsolescence was polluting and wasteful and expensive and is now finally, dead, I think.

    @Peter: Cool app, Tap Forms. This kind of software differentiation will drive iPhone further, I think (and Android). Hardware differentiation will be seen when the PA Semi chip and GPU multi-core code is added this June or next.


    Will be interesting to see how Palm Pre and Android is received. (WinMobile, I see no hope, except who they pay off with "marketing assistance" -- LiMo, Android, Symbian, Blackberry we'll see.) But if it's only a "web phone" with no iTunes counterpart, it will be a different animal and maybe a smart side-step to not go head-on.

  48. foo_bar_baz

    What I took away from this article ...

    ... is the message that contract phones are killing innovation and are bad for the consumer. Not only do they get shafted with high rates, they also get bad phones. Operators have no interest in providing functional phones to customers, instead they make sure all unapproved applications are removed (see Skype story here on the Reg).

    FWIW in Finland bundling phones with contracts was not permitted before April 2006. The legislation only applies to 3G phones, the purpose being to promote the adoption of new tech. Small telco DNA Finland were reportedly unhappy as allowing contract phones stifles competition and raises the price of calls. Consumers take heed.

  49. RDW


    "--well thats not true is it ?! it was covered in the news, queues of people outside most apple, o2 and carphone warehouse stores..."

    Yes, Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia!

    'that story about NASA's pen and the Russian's pencil is an urban myth....a pencil wasn't allowed in case the lead broke off and got stuck in an air duct or something...'

    They actually carried on using pencils (and felt tips) alongside the Fisher pens:

  50. Kevin Rogovin

    It's Symbian that holds Nokia back

    It's Symbian, the royal junk OS for mobile devices, it was designed badly for really low end devices over 10 years ago and has all sorts of incredible stupidities when you develop for it; developing for Symbian is horrible, painful and buggy; you only do it becuase you get paid, compounding this is that ports to and from Symbian often entail a significat rewrite... if/when Nokia dumps Symbian from their line, they will be comptetive for 3rd party developers (in contrast their propietary OS, ISA for S40 phones although simple and limited is much, much easier to write for). When Symbian dies, the world of mobile phones will be a much, much better place: easier to develop for, more reliability and actually faster at the end of the day {Symbian's "optimzations" often slow you down because of the convulted programming one does to just write to a string.}

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Bad for corporates, but some good apps

    Quote: "The inability to run multiple processes means there is NO way to run any kind of security, so if someone cooks up an iPhone virus you have a problem."

    The inability to run multiple processes means that you don't actually need to run any kind of security application! If the apps are sandboxed from all other apps as they are on the iPhone, then any virus would be too. In other words, all a virus could do is run itself and that is it. It couldn't harvest data from another app. It couldn't inject itself into another app. Etc. No one is going to bother cooking up a virus for a device when all it would be able to do is absolutely bugger all. Ironically, it is if and when the iPhone OS is able to run background tasks etc. that this will become a problem. At the moment, its absence is a huge security win by default.

    In contrast, however, the lack of device level encryption... that is a problem for security and business deployment. Hopefully this is a nugget that didn't make it into the preview, but will be in OS 3.0 when it is released.

    Fwiw, you *can* remotely wipe iPhones to kill them.

  52. Herbert Barry

    Apple doesn't have to, nor should it, bow to Adobe

    This is a discussion of the need to let Adobe, and their practices regarding Flash, die a quiet death. Let Apple do what they're doing, and there's going to be a lot more competition and quality in all kinds of different tech areas. This is just one big one.

  53. Anonymous Coward

    @P J the cheap nokis user

    Your comment makes no sense you jut want a phone that does the job as a phone and no more so you use a cheap Nokia. Great, you should start drinking American beer as well because it does the basic job well but has nothing else going for it. The iPhone is like a well crafted homebrew that leaves the commercial offerings in the dust but only appeals to a small minority of the masses who prefer the megaswill offerings of the local shop. Get pissed and be happy but so not cove thy neighbours lovely pint of lovingly craft brewed beer. That or wait for the other commercials to offer kits of tin can brew and dump in a kilo of sugar and think you get smething lovingly crafts when instead you end up with a cidery beer with an omnipresent hint of skunk in the background no matter how much you try to make yourself enjoy it.

  54. Muscleguy
    Thumb Up

    @Ted, I'm convinced

    That the iPhone camera is good, for the reasons stated. The photos have great resolution and sharpness, good dynamic range and exposure as well. I'm a luddite when it comes to cameras, I'm still shooting Velvia on a Canon A1 (manual focus, does have a battery, for the meter), because I care about stuff like that. And I shoot things that generally sit still and I'm good at focusing and depth of field. I'm also something of a control freak.

  55. Jared Earle
    Jobs Halo

    One problem ...

    Who says Apple wants to dominate or control the market?

    As far as I can see, they want a share of the people who can afford high-quality, higher profit-margin goods. Let the market take care of the rest.

  56. Anonymous Coward

    The real reasons the iPhone's been a hit

    Forgive the hubris :) I liked the article, and would like to see more in-depth on exactly why the mobile market (esp in the US) is so twisted --locked phones, weird carrier antics and so on.

    I think there are several reasons for the iPhone's success. Very few of them are technical.

    1. Apple paid serious attention to design. I'm not talking about the UI here, but about the metal and plastic stuff. There is a school of commercial design called "small objects of desire" going back 70 years, and Apple made sure they followed it. This isn't the place to witter on about design but take a look at old cigarette cases, fountain pens, lighters, ipods etc etc. Notice the similarities? Smooth textures, metallic silver finishes, never larger than 5x4" or smaller than 2x2; these are all design standards that have been proven over a long time to appeal to men and women. (Aside: Women were a hitherto neglected market: go into your local starbucks and see how many women carry blackberries and blackjacks vs iphones. Moreover. they're not stupid: the LG Prada phone attempts to follow the small-objects pattern but shoppers can recognize the difference between pointless bling and a genuinely well-crafted device.)

    2. The UI is 'good enough'. Not the finest, not the fastest, but very clear to read, and having that big screen was a game changer. It subconsciously confirms that It's Official - Phones Are Now Little Computers. But see #3 below.

    3. Perhaps most important. People can make money with an iPhone. Call this the Ballmer theory of developer economics. The AppStore and the dev environment was an inspired piece of business from Apple. Now the market decides what people want and Apple profit. Much like Microsoft did in the 90s. (I am old enough to remember when ads for Windows touted how many applications were available for it - remember "over 1200 applications run on Windows 3.0"? After a few years, MS didn't need to say that any more. Neither do Apple.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Analysis.. not at all

    jeezuz, make up you mind if you want to be a reporter, agitator or an advertorialist when you grow up. Your point is...

    It seems that the technorrhea 2.0 hive mind notion of what analysis is porking up unending cross-atlantic PR shrieking that a shined-up Palm Tungsten will rule consumer communication, that shitloads of people have it and that shitloads more people will want it forever.

    This phone is WAP 2.0 - the reason why network operators like it. What makes this arrangement between network operator and manufacturer any different from its predecessors? Are carrier exclusivity, walled gardens, blah blah new and wizzo ideas? Have Nokia, Motorola and Ericsson not been there some years ago? The rest of the world is not resurrecting the WAP corpse because it’s crap. The rest of the world is moving to a phone separate from a SIM card. A tarted up WAP 2.0 Sony Clie can’t cope with that.

    And please, its success is circumscribed.

    Other than dainty men with a liking for greasy earprints (and their grannies) there don’t seem to be that many people who can cope with the embarrassment of holding up a shiny spade to their ears.

  58. R Cox

    The Performa

    This advice is very similar to the advice that lead to the Mac Zoo of the early and mid 90's. In my opinion, this excess of hardware lead to a lack of focus on quality and a lack of development in the software. Apple forgot it was a systems builder, not just a outfit that stuck parts together and then slapped in an OS. Computers like the performa did allow more people to buy the computer, but did not increase long term market share.

    What happened was that apple just began putting computers together to meet a price point, rather than building systems that met consumers needs. For instance, my newton was a wonderful computer, but it was not integrated as system with the mac. The palm was, so even though palm was an inferior machine, I eventually traded my newton for a palm V.

    So no, apple does not have to serve every segment of the phone market, any more than it has to serve every segment of the computer market. What it has to do is design software, and keep hardware costs down, so people who want a systen, rather than a random collection of parts, will pay the markup.

  59. Anonymous Coward


    What a blatant iPhone-fan article...

    If you want to advertise, be less obvious PLEASE.

    Though there was many interesting tidbits about the market etc.

    But the main article itself has an angle that only a blind would not see.

    (icon related)

  60. Matthew

    @ Ted the Moron

    Of course Mega pixiles are a indication of quality you retard - if you had a *really good lens* and a 1mp camera then you're never going to harness the full potential of the lens are you? You need BOTH. I.E, a K series SE. Oh and the iphone Camera sucks balls anyway compared to other phones in the price range.

    Great article by the way!

  61. go


    Seriously? .... "ditch the highly developed and well understood Symbian OS and back the completely unknown quantity that is Android instead."

    I MEAN SERIOUSLY!!! What is wrong with people? jesus christ, you can't flog a dead horse (OK you can, but it's no fun) Symbian is DEAD give the fucker up! It's had it's day, it's slow, crappy and needs to be put to rest along with all the other OLD stuff that just needs to be moved on, seriously It's time for some new stuff to get put into the mix, this historical thinking is the same reason I have to waste my life fixing crappy NT4 boxes that still exist because the world just can't accept that things move on, technology changes, it might not be perfect but it moves on.....

    Hopefully motorola will give Apple a run for it's money, I mean, I own an iphone, and I love it, but Ir eally want someone to challenge apple so they actually do something interesting with the iphone, at the moment they are sat gently sipping coffee enjoying life because they know they have a great product and nobody seems to be able to touch it...So please phone manufacturers of the world listen up, GET A MOVE ON, don't invent the new iphone invent the next new thing! At least that way apple will get off their arses and won't take two years to release the OS the iPhone always should of had!

  62. go

    Oh and....

    If you want a decent camera then get a *ucking camera, go buy yourself an SLR and learn how to use it, don't point some crappy phone at something and act all suprised when the photo's look "a little bit shit"

    Phone cameras are for a few things:

    a) Capturing drunken moments displaying your increadible skills

    b) Capturing drunken moments of friends who would rather not see the photo on facebook

    c) Capturing non drunken moments that you really don't care about but are going to rpovide slight levels of humor.

    It's a fucking phone, and that's what I like about the iphone, it's a good PHONE first and an average camera second...

  63. Steve Evans


    ""recall the tumbleweed that blew through empty stores when O2 and Carphone first launched the iPhone in the UK"

    --well thats not true is it ?! it was covered in the news, queues of people outside most apple, o2 and carphone warehouse stores..."

    Really... Odd because I took advantage of their late opening to park (free after 6) in my local town, walk into the O2 shop and buy another microSD card for my Nokia... There were more staff than customers in the store, and I would have been in and gone in 2 minutes if all the till staff weren't trying to resolve a problem with an iPhone registration!

  64. Dipika

    Networks aren't a global problem

    The mobile phone networks don't dictate terms everywhere in the world. In India, the buying process is: 1. buy phone from whichever manufacturer you want. 2. Choose network provider/Use existing. Ofcourse Prepaid accounts have always been more popular.

    So I always find the American/UK situation quaintly messed up, cause I have both the network and manufacturers falling over themselves to get me as a customer. Nokia rules here BTW and its low-end phones are easy to use with good battery life.

    In this situation, Apple has gone ahead and tethered itself to postpaid accounts of two networks. The price doesnt seem subsidized to the least (even that's an alien concept here) and the handset is mostly available in the network's showrooms. Apple has made it hard for people, who pay that much for high-end Nokia handsets anyway, to buy the damn iPhone. So most people I know buy the prison-breaked version from the black market. Way to go Apple, for complicating things!

  65. F1reman

    you can't keep a good product down. GEM OS?

    @ Andrew O

    I hope they don't introduce a keyboard because in my view it would make the phone far too chunky.

    What is it that you don't like about the software keyboard Andrew O?

    @ Andrew Thomas and other non-believers

    To be honest son I've never much liked my previous phones such as the N82, K750 and E70 because they always stood out a mile in my pocket. Such smart phones were really annoying for us blokes who wanted a decent phone but who don't condone the use of handbags. I tried a neck strap but just too chunky again.

    my Iphone is slim. I'll repeat: SLIM. With a curved back. What this means is that it does not stick out so much as a phone half it's size in width and height but double it's depth.

    @ Andrew O re E70.

    Yep, I gave my E70 to my gf and do you know what? She fecking loves it. She's always texting and that fold out keyboard is ultimate for this girl. And it fits in her normal handbags.

    @ GhilleDhu

    @ Ted

    @ Bad Beaver

    Yep, the camera is woeful. For that reason alone I miss my N82. And my K750. No actually wait....the Apple is about as bad as the k750, which was amazing when it first came out...5 years ago!! Come on Apple, produce the goods on the camera hardware. Der.

    It's not about megapixels Ted and no-one said it was. I've no image stabilisationa and there is tons of noise in a dark pub. So in a dark pub/club/bar/restaurant (which is where I tend to use camera phones) I get blue lines and a fuzzy image that needs a flash and image stab.

    Then, in the park on Sunday, I have to get everyone to 'hold still' for 5 seconds. usually the 5th attempt comes out alright. And that's in bright sunlight. OK so the App "night camera" helps with these problems but please, the N82 kicked ass.

    Guys, if you know of something to cancel out the noise and blur please let me know.

    @ Jez Caudle


    @ Andrew O

    there's no point to an iphone nano because then the screen will be too small. Unless they do Tocco I suppose, which is a great little phone. Hmm. Maybe they will and then they satisfy the small phone addicts.

    Interesting fact. iPhone came second to HTC Touch HD in battery life test on PC Pro tests. At least 10 smart phones tested so it seems iPhone battery life is actually better than most other smart phones. wierd.

    For business users they need to compete with Blackberry and so until they introduce central control and market leading security features Apple are going to be left out in the cold.

    @ Gene Feierstein


  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not strictly true

    Tethering has been prevented by the phone networks. It's in the 3.0 version of iPhone OS but it doesn't appear if your network operator declines use of it.

  67. Dr Raymond Cocteau

    The factual version of the space pen story

    The Russians used a pencil - not ideal because of the dannger of bits of conductive lead flying about.

    The space pen guy spent millions of *his companies* money developing the space pen. NASA paid pretty much the counter price for them. Then he made a fortune selling "The pen used by NASA".

    These pens are now standard for use in space. The Russians use them as well.

    Pretty much a parable of how free market capitalism *can* work.

  68. P. J. Isserlis
    IT Angle

    @AC the cheap nokia user

    I understand why you stay anonymous: I never said these things are all one wants. I want these things at a minimum. I know a couple of people who have got an iPhone for when they can carry it and want to show off 'photos (down loaded after being taken on a camera) or emptying beer glass pictures. But they keep a Nokia or equivalent for general use: telephone calls, SMS etc. and smaller size, greater robustness all the time.

    So, again, I just notice that a lack of comments that the iPhone (note the "phone" in the name) is good or bad at its basic role, making or receiving calls and (basic in a mobile), SMS and MMS handling as good as other models, nor much about the current battery life. This is not to say that it may not be wonderful at all these things; but as they seem to be ignored, I wonder.

    Of course, as a gadget, it is great. But beware, the designers may drink American beer and even be American (hence some of the early lacks as USA usage and experience differ from that in Europe, perhaps).

    So, again, how good is it as a mobile 'phone, especially for those of us not always wearing jackets, baggy trousers with big pockets or carrying handbags and always near a power socket and carrying a charger, but still want a good 'phone with some smart-phone extras that can withstand the knocks and weather of daily life (and for the price, for a significant time)?

  69. c

    Pays to be late?

    Am I missing something here? The iPhone in all its incarnations has sold 17M devices in 2 years or so. That is an absolute piddling number. Nokiafor instance ship that many devices a MONTH and Samsung not much less a month.

  70. Throatwobbler Mangrove Silver badge


    ". (Aside: Women were a hitherto neglected market: go into your local starbucks and see how many women carry blackberries and blackjacks vs iphones. Moreover. they're not stupid: the LG Prada phone attempts to follow the small-objects pattern but shoppers can recognize the difference between pointless bling and a genuinely well-crafted devic"

    I'm not exactly sure what point you are trying to make (are you saying that women prefer "flashy" iPhones to "dorky" technical devices?) and I am obviously no statistical guide, but of all the iPhone owners I know, 100% of them are men, and 100% of the BlackBerry owners I know are women. So...where were we again?

  71. Wayland Sothcott

    @ Ted

    Someone said you were a moron for saying that megapixels were not important. I get what you mean. Apple are smart enough to craft a complete device. A well made device is not the sum of the parts it's more the multiplication of the parts.

    Examining the parts you might say, oh not enough megapixels, well actually there are enough but then lens complements the camera too.

    Lack of multiprocessing in some ways could be an advantage too, it requires less CPU power.

    I think apple are right not to make lots of models. However they should allow the phone to be used on your choice of network. O2 is not suitable for all areas.

  72. David Edwards

    @Go.... CAMERAS are not for drunks

    I know some people think that phone cameras are only for taking pictures of drunken mates and snaps for your photo phone book, but you are wrong.

    In a business context they are good for.

    Taking pictures of whiteboards and flipcharts after meetings

    Taking pictures of thinks like cable configs, pipes, or other enigineering stuff

    Taking photos of documents for OCR (Evernote does serverside OCR thats good, shame the iPhone camera lets it down)

    Taking phots of rooms/sites etc

    Now obviously I could carry my camera round all the time, but why? when decent camers can be built into phones. I swapped my N95 for an iphone and the camera capability is the only thing I miss.

  73. Dan Wilkinson


    There is a finite size in which to squeeze in your megapixels. I've seen 12mp phones advertised, although these haven't exactly been what I would call "slim". But for a more direct comparison a lot of the competition seem to be hovering around the 6mp area.

    There is an interesting argument to be had about the quantity v quality debate when it comes to increasing the amount of pixels you cram into your lens. Without moving to larger form factors than a slim phone, the rule of thumb is that clearly having too few pixels gives a poorer picture. But this doesn't tell the whole story. Cram in too many, and you start to have to reduce the size of them, leading to each pixel letting in less light, and as such producing poorer results. Bigger filesize, larger image, poorer quality overall.

    Now obviously there is a happy medium inbetween, one that balances everything from the size requirements, the speed at which the captured picture can be written to flash (again, more pixels = slower), even the amount of JPEG compression used to keep both the kilobytes down and the time taken to write it.

    I reckon that having a lesser resolution high quality lens/CMOS etc, that doesn't need to compress the image when it saves it, is going to produce a similar overall "quality" of image to a camera with more lower quality pixels and associated compression...ESPECIALLY when you consider what the intended usage of the photo will be - and let's face it most pictures taken on digital devices are only ever viewed on other digital devices. I really can't see the point in having massive photos that will have one of three things happen to it:

    1) It stays in a folder, and you view it downscaled to fit a maximised monitor on your PC/Mac. Let's be generous and say you have a full HD 1900x1080 display. That'll be 2.1 megapixels then...

    2) You stick it on Flickr/Facebook - after downscaling it to 800x600

    3) You print it. Chances are you will print it at 6x4 inches, at which 2mp is sufficient.

    Don't be fooled by the megapixel scam - it's like the Mhz wars of years ago. More is not ALWAYS better, unless you are using a full size form factor. In smaller portable packages more can be less.

    I'm sure Apple did plenty of actuall testing and analysis and tried numerous lens/CMOS combinations, before settling on the one that produced the best overall package for the camera given it's brief. Clearly there is no technical engineering reason why they couldn't wang a 10mp monster in there, but what does it gain them? Just bragging rights, and if they wanted to compete on the more is better front, they wouldn't do that and then leave out other features like MMS etc. They aren't competing on spec sheets, like many other manufacturers, they are competing on the overall experience.

    I'm happy with the camera for what I use it for, I'm sure the next hardware revision will have a higher megapixel camera in it, but it will also I'm sure be done for quality reasons, not marketing. I also bet it will still be less than 5mp. Personally, I'd rather see them throw in autofocus...

  74. Anonymous Coward

    Camera - megapixels, lens and sensor

    The size of the sensor is also important, and this is constrained by the size of the actual device. See

    I'd like a better camera in the iPhone too, but 2 megapixels is fine. Unless you're cropping your photos later on, there's not much point in having anything that produces a resolution higher than a HD TV can display - how many people are going to display their photos on a device with a resolution higher than 1920x1080 anyway? The extra pixels in the photo are just wasted as far as I can see. Sure, there's the odd person who look at their photos on a computer screen that displays a higher resolution, but that's pretty rare.

  75. F1reman

    Go El Reg - Down with Apple yeah!

    Actually it does make a refreshing change that at least one online source is not willing to kowtow to Apple. I think it's quite funny that Register does not get invited to Apple hype events. At least I can trust them to be objective when it comes to Apple.

    With regards to cameras. The iphone camera is rubbish for me and it's me that counts to me.

    I don't know if it's is because of a lack of auto-stab, auto-focus, no flash, software or whatever. Fact is I try to take a photo at night forget it. And during the day the picture needs to be of a statue or it's blurred.

    I accept that not everyone wants to take pictures of people, and for them I'm happy, but for the folks like me who like to take quick snaps of animate objects it's no good. 5 years ago fair enough. But now a days I don't see the excuse.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Throatwobbler Mangrove

    TM, my point was that people like things that are physically well-designed. The iPhone, because it hooks into people's subconscious view of what a small desirable object looks like, comes across as "well-designed". In doing so it breaks the link between having a sophisticated phone and being a geek. Which from Apple's point of view was always going to be essential if the handset was to achieve mass penetration in the marketplace.

  77. Kenneth Trueman
    Thumb Up

    iPhone is more than hardware or the OS

    I thought it was a great article. Only part where you lost me is at the end. The typical carrier and handset provider approach is that it is about the hardware. A focus on hardware resulted in multiple SKUs, many of which were essentially cheap knock-offs of better products (Nokia is guilty here of producing lousy low-end handsets that damage its brand)

    Best case to date, some interest in the software (Symbian, Android, etc.)

    However, both views miss the point of what sets the iPhone apart. It is the client software that sets the iPhone apart. It is the applications that you download on the hardware and the OS that are the real difference. They are also what allow you to create a unique experience for each and every iPhone owner. For sure, you need to cover some basics like a camera, etc., but once you have those, you run out of HW features to add... iPhone enables a form of market segmentation via a personalized software experience.

  78. Elrond Hubbard

    It always pays to be late

    "First mover advantage" is a myth. The market nearly always belongs to the company that stood back, watched things develop and then produced something that answered customer issues with earlier products.

    There are few exceptions to this rule; when people name a first mover who they think is still the market leader, it usually turns out that the real first mover was so totally and utterly destroyed that hardly anyone remembers them. (Remember Garrett AiResearch, everyone? It was they, not Intel, who produced the first microcontroller. Intel wasn't even second, Texas Instruments was.)

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