Analysts have warned that Apple’s new iPhone device – combining a phone, an internet tablet and an iPod – may find Europe to be a difficult market to crack as the device is based on the EDGE standard, which is not as widely used in Europe and many European users will suffer a very slow GPRS browsing experience.
However, leading telecoms analyst Ovum said that it expects Apple to announce a HSDPA (high-speed downlink packet access) version for Europe and the Asian-Pacific market very soon, which may counter this threat.
In launching the Apple iPhone with its distinctive user interface (UI) and all-over touchscreen with new multi-touch technology, Ovum director Martin Garner said the company has scored a major hit by not doing a “me too” product.
“Instead, by entering the market with a smart phone, Apple has joined the fastest-growing segment of the mobile phone market. We believe that the iPhone will define a significant new category of smart phone devices and set the bar at new levels.
“It has also positioned the iPhone as an upgrade to the iPod: many of the early buyers will be iPod users. Steve Jobs described it as ‘the best iPod ever’. We think this is sensible, since the product will launch initially in the US, where the smart phone market is weakest.”
The new iPhone will run Mac OS X, will include quad-band GSM, EDGE and Wi-Fi, and has a two-megapixel camera.
The iPhone – like the iPod – does not have a removable battery, nor does it have an expandable memory.
The 11.6mm-thick device will launch in June in the US and in Q4 in Europe. In the US the device will be exclusively available on Cingular’s network with a two-year deal, costing US$499 for a 4GB version and US$599 for an 8GB version.
“The product really looks special. The large screen and lack of keypad make it stand out completely. But the real treat is inside with the different approach to the UI that Apple has taken. It has done away with the physical UI, putting all the effort into a finger-powered touchscreen UI.
It takes a very confident company to discard one of its key strengths: the scroll wheel,” says Garner.
To reflect the new product focus, Apple founder and CEO Steve Jobs has renamed the company, dropping the ‘Computer’ to become Apple Inc.
According to reports, workers at Apple’s call centre in Cork, where 1,400 people are employed, were inundated with calls yesterday after the iPhone was launched. Staff at the centre were handling calls from American customers making enquiries about the new phone.
By John Kennedy
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