January 10, 2007

Still Thinking

So I spent some time mulling over how cool the iPhone is. Then I cruised the 'net a bit and read all kinds of gushing by a bunch of different people. Clearly the iPhone is the winner of CES (the tradeshow at which it was announced). Now that I've had a chance to react against other gushing folks though, I'm not as excited. It took Apple ten generations of operating systems to really come up with something that appeals to non-Mac enthusiasts. It took them four generations of iPod before they really got it right*. The iPod Nano shipped with screens that got scratched if you breathed on them. Apple is a company that comes up with great ideas and gets them right eventually. Are they getting better at reducing the number of lame first generation products they release? Possibly. But I'm more glad than ever that I just recently locked myself into a new 2 year cell phone contract because by the time my contract is up they'll probably be a few months off from releasing the third generation iPhone, which is probably about the time it will be all that it should be.

Also, by then I should have more money.

Don't count Microsoft out though. Yeah, they took a long time to get into the MP3 market. It's probably even fair to say that they waited so long that Apple entrenched itself in the zeitgeist as *the* MP3 company. Still, there's nothing particularly wrong with the Zune as far as I've heard. Indeed, prior to the iPhone announcement I was pretty excited about the machine. The comparison to their console business couldn't be more clear. Their first generation machine is kind of a clunker. It's so late to the party that nobody even considers the possibility that they'll take the crown away from Sony. It's got some good features and is in many ways superior to the PS2 but that doesn't matter because Sony *was* console gaming in the minds of the gaming public. Microsoft takes a few years to build some infrastructure and do some research and then release the 360, a very good machine that has a good shot at capturing marketshare if not holding onto the lead they've already forged for themselves. Microsoft has talked about getting into the cell phone market for years. They *will* get into the cell phone market and it's almost certain that the first product they release will be some extension of the Zune. How will it stack up to the iPhone? Who knows, but the first company to release a new, innovative product is not always the company that delivers the best product. The 18 year old me would care enough about being the first to have an iPhone that he'd be willing to put up with the innevitable quirks. The 27 year old me is willing to wait for somebody to get it right.

*People forget that the first generation iPods sucked pretty bad, despite their great potential. The click circle was actually a movable click wheel that fell off the thing after moderate use. The battery died if you even thought about playing Freebird back to back. The screen was dark, drab and not nearly as easy to read as their newer models, and compared to the current product the thing was a brick.

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