A little perspective on the iPhone

I love hoarding snippets of information and obscure bookmarks that I rarely end up using again. Since the advent of social bookmarking and delicious tagging my data lets me create order from chaos.

In recent years, I’ve also used a great little application called Yojimbo to store and tag websites, recipes, ideas and pretty much anything else.

This morning, I was looking through older info snippets in the app and stumbled over an old Fortune article by Jon Fortt published in 2006, a few months before the launch of the iPhone in January 2007.

Three reasons an iPhone could actually suck was actually a good article and considered the three biggest barriers to success apparent at the time for an Apple mobile phone. A device which had yet to be confirmed by the company.

Firstly, Fortt suggested the control US carriers had over the marketplace meant that Apple would struggle to sell the iPhone on “its own terms”.

Secondly, he said the the additional control carriers exerted over the user interfaces of handset manufacturers would be a tough compromise for Apple to swallow. Historically, carriers insisted their logo appeared prominently during start-up and that prominent links to their ‘value adding‘ mobile content littered screens and prominent menus. A company like Apple with such a fanatical focus on user experience wouldn’t sit for others dipping their oars or, God forbid, their logos in their interfaces.

Finally, he questioned whether the company would be able to carve a profit out of the crowded marketplace.

With the benefit of perspective, it’s like looking re-reading a pre-match review for an un-fancied football team playing away against one of the European superpowers with the knowledge that they actually trounced them three-nil on the night.

One thing he does get right is his assertion that the biggest innovation about the iPhone won’t be the device itself but the way it “crafted partnerships in a way that it could keep control of the customer experience, and still manage a profit”.

Don’t get me wrong, I think Fortt wrote a good piece and I think I probably saved it because I agreed with most of his ideas.

Today, it’s just another yardstick to measure Apple’s success in sweeping aside the old hegemonies.

About admin

Some of the stuff I do: journalism, blogging, cooking, product management, marketing communications and being a dad to two little girls. Two cats, also. I’m head of publishing and product development for a UK government website and I write for content marketing agency Collective Content. For years I wrote about Apple under the Seb Janacek byline.

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