Those at Apple's WWDC cheered the company's many announcements yesterday, but a small segment of the population will have reacted with foreboding, not joy. The game-changing Apple iPhone 3G S could give some rivals a smartphone-sized headache.
June 8, 2009 will hardly go down in history as a red-letter day for Palm, but I'm not addressing that company. The Palm Pre isn't a bad phone for a 1.0 release and Palm's certainly going to refine it. No, I'm thinking of the people working in Garmin and TomTom's hardware divisions and Flip Video, maker of the Flip pocket camcorders. They won't have enjoyed hearing abot the Apple iPhone 3G S.
While we Apple iPhone users can certainly celebrate functional GPS turn-by-turn navigation (with voice feedback, yet) from our phones and a video camera that supports on-camera editing and delivery, you have to think a few of the people responsible for such functions on separate hardware devices experienced an "Uh oh" moment upon hearing Apple's plans
Oh sure, TomTom's in on the iPhone by way of a navigation app and separate hardware device for using the iPhone in the car. Garmin surely isn't far behind. And the iPhone 3G S only shoots in VGA, while both Pure Digital's Flip Video MinoHD and UltraHD offer the advantage of 720p HD shooting. And, of course, the iPhone's cost of ownership is going to provide safe haven for these devices for awhile.
But only for a while. When Apple iPhones are as omnipresent as iPods, look out. If every gadget manufacturer across the land hasn't taken a long second look at their business plan based on the iPhone existence - particularly after today's announcements - it's time they did.
Because in all the discussion of other mobile phones and mobile operating systems, people tend to forget that the iPhone is a portable computer that happens to make calls. And while that makes for diverting discussion when comparing one 'iPhone killer' to The Real Deal, it's just as interesting to consider that the iPhone has (and will continue to have) a profound effect on our day-to-day digital lives. For example, how many iPhone owners would buy a pocket calculator, portable CD player, PIM, pocket recorder, VoIP handset, handheld gaming device and, soon, universal remote, handheld GPS or pocket camcorder?
This stuff is going the way of the dodo because we pack a chameleon in our pocket in the form of our iPhones. We've talked for years about the mobile phone as the ultimate convergence device. With the ultimately adaptable iPhone 3G S, we're just about there. This thrills me to the core. But then I'm not the guy responsible for making and selling single-purpose handheld devices. If I were, I'd be considering my future very carefully.