By Richard Menta 6/27/07
Even before the iPhone was unveiled, when the first rumors hit of an impending iPod phone, I said Apple could compete very well in this market not by making a better music phone, but by just making a better phone. This reflects the hit and miss affair that represents pretty much all of the existing handsets in the market today.
With the iPhone coming out Friday and the anticipation rising to heights even Apple has never seen before, the question is "did they succeed at making a better phone"? According to two journalists who were given the privilige of a sneak preview of the iPhone, Walter Mossberg of the Wall Street Journal and David Pogue of the New York Times, the answer is a big yes.
After testing the iPhone in several cities, Mossberg praised the device stating "Our verdict is that, despite some flaws and feature omissions, the iPhone is, on balance, a beautiful and breakthrough handheld computer." The Times pretty much agreed with Mossberg's assessment, feeling the device itself lived up to the hype, despite a few dislikes like the lack of a chat application. According to the writers, the biggest negative comes not from the handset itself, but from the iPhone's exclusive carrier AT&T.
All found the AT&T service to be spotty. Pogue even pointed to a recent evaluation of mobile services in Consumer Reports where the magazine found that AT&T scored last or second-to-last in 19 out of 20 major cities in providing a signal. The reviewers also gave thumbs down to AT&T's Edge service, which offered slow Net access. Fortunately, the iPhone has WiFi capability, which allows users to bypass Edge when they are near a WiFi hotspot, which many local bookstores and coffee shops have added.
Overall, these reviews should make the lines outside of the Apple stores a little longer this weekend. Interestingly, it's looking more like the biggest winner of all here may not be Apple, but AT&T who get to lock in all those new users for two years despite the limitations of its present service. That could stick in the craw of Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg who refused Apple's terms to bring the iPhone to his service. Verizon topped Consumer Reports review of mobile services, which means an Apple/Verizon combo would have offered a more compelling reason for users to consider a carrier switch.
We plan to vists a local Apple store this Friday just to see if indeed the
positive reviews and still growing hype will equate into long lines.
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