Steve Jobs is the product; iPhones the accessories
No company and its products are more inseparable from its leader than Apple and Steve Jobs. His obsession with sleek design and an always hard to define “cool factor” has produced an unmatched string of hit computers, music players and, recently, phones.
Lower prices rather that lots of fancy new features should headline the launch of new iPhone models at Apple’s World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco on Monday.
What we do know is that Apple plans to introduce a new version of its software, iPhone 3.0, with 100 new features.
But Apple needs to give iPhone early adopters fresh reasons to buy another iPhone. Two-year contracts users signed when the iPhone was first introduced in June 2007 will begin to expire next month and new models will keep these most loyal of Apple customers happy.
Apple hasn’t said when new iPhone models may be coming. It could concentrate on software announcements it was planning to make and hold off a few for a separate iPhone product announcement. But show-biz is show-biz and Jobs can’t miss the big event.
Look for a higher-capacity phone capable of holding 32-gigabytes of data (10,000 songs, or several feature-length movies). Existing models force users to be more selective about what songs, photos, videos and software they can store in 8- or 16-gigabyte models. The next frontier for the iPhone is a video camera, and on-board video-editing software. Thirty-two gigabytes of memory would allow users to create their own media, as well as storing purchased media.
The show-stopper would be for Apple to unveil an entry-level, $99 iPhone. It would sacrifice memory, offering, say, 4-gigabytes of data. This lower-priced model could double sales of iPhones, Morgan Stanley estimates. This would strike deeply into the heart of the market for rival smartphones that have tried to compete on price with the iPhone. And it would go some part of the way to answering questions about how to drive iPhones from the 20-million unit level into the mass market of more than 1 billion phones sold each year.
(Photos: Phone 3G launch 2008)