Saturday, July 26, 2008

More on why the iPhone is where to place your bets

As I blogged the other day, I think the iPhone is the platform to develop on right now. I think it trumps all others. If a developer isn’t looking at the iPhone and how their product or service is best expressed on it, I think they’re not doing all that they should. That’s just me take.

With this being said, I see that Robert Scoble today is shaming those in the VC community, large companies and the like, for not taking the iPhone more seriously. Right now.

That’s OK, Robert. The fact that the established players are more cautious with something new like the iPhone is exactly why it opens up opportunities for others. So I don’t see this as a bad thing. It’s just the nature of changing markets.

I will add a key point that many industry people need to start paying attention to: I find more and more of my browsing migrating to the iPhone. Even with the display being too small, I find I check more things and read more content more often on the iPhone than I have with any other small device. Not only that, but the browsing time has eaten into my browsing time on my notebook or desktop. This is a point I’d pound into any VCs head that isn’t too sure about the iPhone as a different platform. The iPhone is not simply canabilizing other phone sales, it’s eating into desktop consumption. With better apps on the iPhone I only see this trend getting bigger.

One other key point I think industry players need to pay attention to here is how security is being expressed on phone like devices vs desktop OS devices. Put simply, security is going to kill the user experience in traditional OSes if they’re not careful. Here’s the thing. I can pick up my iPhone, wake it up with a click, slide the unlock gadget, and then without any further logging in, get access to the web, check the news, weather data, stock prices, etc, etc, etc. To get to other content or install an app, I might need to sign in. But generally, there are good things I can do just by turning the device on. Yes, I can set my desktop to do the same, but because of security reasons I don’t. It’s not that everything I have on my system needs to be locked down, it’s just that that’s the model desktop OSes have. I think the iPhone shows that either the desktop players are going to have to tweak their security models, or their market share is going to get eaten more and more by easier to use non-big-OS devices. I think part of the reason that more and more of my browsing is migrating to the iPhone is in part because of this.

For all my praise for the iPhone there are some things I think Apple and AT&T have terribly missed:

* WIFI-based calling. I don’t care what AT&T says, there are many dead or poor cell coverage areas–and when these spots are in a home with great WIFI, there’s absolutely no reason that the phone shouldn’t auto switch to VOIP. To do otherwise creates a poor experience. The iPhone is wrong not to support this natively and transparently. A great phone wood.

* The phone–actually mainly the apps, such as Safari–crash way too much. A great iPhone would not do this, at least not as much.

* Not only is the iPhone missing great travel apps as Robert points out (why can’t I track a flight easily?), there’s still not a great weather radar app, and I’m sure I could list a half a dozen other must have apps that the iPhone really should have. If these apps existed I bet, the iPhone would become mainstream faster than any competitor could come up with a great clone.

* The iPhone’s battery life is going to be an issue for quite a while it appears. Clever charging scenarios are going to be the workaround. These don’t exist yet.

* Free iPhone apps are good, but of course people need to make a living. However, what price should iPhone apps be? I’m thinking in the 99 cent range. Why? Because they actually are quite temporal. Developers need to get comfortable with 10x less expensive apps on the iPhone and potentially 100x more market size for their programs.