By now we've all seen the hype and read the reviews. The iPhone is here to stay. Consumer perception has been forever changed, and consumer expectations will only grow from here. While it is true that the iPhone is not the end all and be all of mobile phone based computing (props to my coworker Monik Sanghvi for making this point), it has revolutionized the way consumers view the mobile industry.
To frame the rest of this post I would like to suggest the following evolution.
In the past - our phones were just that, phones.
Nothing really too innovative to report there.
In the present - our phones are our on-the-go utilities that connect us with our digital lives
This is why we care more about connecting to our existant digital identities - social networking, email, instant messaging, YouTube etc. - than forging new ones (compare MySpace, Facebook and Friednster to any MOSOSO, point made).
In the future - our phones will be mobile devices that feature a dedicated voice application. Rich data usage (beyond email) will be a primary focus of the device with VOIP or another similar protocol featured. Marketing and messaging will reside on the mobile platform much as it does on the current web.
(more on this in the weeks to come as part of the Future Visions - Outlooks series - tentatively named, we're also considering NewCo, NewSite, NewPost or NewThoughts)
So where do we go from here? I believe we all recognize that the iPhone is the next step in a new evolution/revolution. The revolution was simple. Before our phones sucked. Now they have the ability to rock, or perhaps more importantly, now we really care that they rock. Take a look back at the old pre-iPod hard drive based mp3 players. I had a couple them. The design stank like bumpers in a ranky bowling alley (and the design on one of my players actually looked like that as well! Anyone remember the Archos Jukebox?). The iPod made portable mass storage and playback of music fun, sexy. simple and stylish. Apparently they've now done this to the phone. Now my current phone - a Motorola SLVR L7 with 1 gig of storage, hacked to play passable video and iTunes - looks like a piece of junk. I'm sold. I want the iPhone. So where do we go from here? How do you make the newest, hottest item even better?
Firstly, by listening to consumer complaints. For a $600 price tag lets jack up the storage to at least 16 GB, which is totally doable in flash. Secondly, lets speak to consumer tastes, wants and desires. Lets build an iPhone for each market segment (within reason). Lets build a $150 iPhone Nano with two gig of storage and slightly limited functionality. Let's build at least three base models - much like the current iPod, with a few variations or upgrades in each model. Let's embrace the web and offer true 3G access speeds. Let's work to integrate existent digital consumer behavior into the device. Let's face it, most of us (business users) would like to replace our Blackberries with something like berry and more pod. Work with (insert drumroll) Microsoft (shouts of horror) to build an Outlook compatible utility.
Consumers recognize the importance of good design. Apple is great at design. The introduction of Boot Camp opened doors for both Mac and PC users. Lets open up the door to mobile and embrace the future.
And if we do, who knows, consumers might even want a taste of something a little more like the iPhone in their mainstream computing lives (see video below).