Apple iPhones Ripening

Steve Jobs Steps Up His Game to Meet Users’ Demands

News | Philipp Conrad | July / August 2008

The iPhone has changed the way people use mobile phones, according to Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Innovation Officer of the Publicis Groupe Media in Chicago.

"This device is not just a phone anymore.," he told The Vienna Review in early May. "Eighty to ninety percent of its usage is more than just making calls." Apple, Inc.’s CEO Steve Jobs agrees, and made this insight the theme of his recent keynote address at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco in early June.

So what haven’s more people joined the ranks of iPhone users? In his presentation to a sold-out crowd of 5,000 developers – viewable as a podcast via Apple’s iTunes service – Steve Jobs explained the five major reasons that have kept people from buying the iPhones, which so many of us have been trendy enough to acquire.

The biggest hurdle was the lack of 3G network support, Jobs explained. Most new mobile phones on the market support the high-speed 3G data networks commonly available in major metropolitan areas.  Loading web pages on a 3G-enabled connection parallels the speeds we are familiar with on local Wi-Fi networks, and which have become a must for people surfing information on the iPhones exceptionally capable web-browser.

Other common complaints include the lack of compatibility with Microsoft Exchange servers (enterprise email servers frequently used with Blackberry phones) as well as with third-party application support.  And many are discouraged simply by its high cost and the lack of global availability.

With the newest generation device, however, Apple hopes to hit a home-run in each of these five areas.  The launch of the iPhone 3G on Jul. 11 will be supported by a new AppStore platform enables you to download dozens of programs (many are free) onto the phone, including a breakthrough news-reader introduced by the Associated Press at the conference.

To meet user’s demands, Apple has halved the price of the phone to $199 USD. International pricing has not been announced, but it during his presentation Jobs promised it would not cost more. By the end of the year iPhones will be available in 70 countries around the world (it’s currently only officially on sale in five) offering full enterprise email compatibility and a 3G chip with integrated GPS functionality.  Additionally, Apple is moving the iPhone away from the luxury market with its new casing mostly in plastic, and the phone is designed to have better reception and longer battery-life.

All these things are not nearly as interesting, however, as the third-party applications that Apple is making available to all new and existing iPhone users via the AppStore, the work of a dozen out side developers, ranging from small, independents to big names such as Sega.

Jobs invited several companies on stage to showcase what they had developed so far.  Of particular interest is the Mobile News Network, available Jul. 11, presented by Benjamin Mosse, Director of Mobile Products at the Associated Press.  MNN will use the iPhones integrated location services, which allows the phone to locate you in real time and deliver the most current news stories from all or selected local papers.  You will also be able to view photo content from the AP wire as well as streamed video-reports directly.

The most exciting break-through feature, however, is the ability of users to submit their own photos and stories directly to the Associated Press.  Essentially, AP wants every iPhone user to consider himself a potential contributor.  This is in direct competition with CNN’s iReport, which requires the user to be connected to via their home PC to upload photos.  The AP anticipates that the MNN will enable them to receive reports within seconds from observant iPhone users. How many reports this will mean is anybody’s guess and the AP is not willing to speculate. But Jack Stokes of AP Corporate Communications told The Vienna Review that "intense discussions" are underway in an attempt to estimate the impact.

What is clear is that Apple’s iPhone has moved from a fancy mobile phone to an authentic portable media system, which can be expected to rank alongside the television as the device of choice in the years to come, offering media outlets in every category, including small, regional publications like The Vienna Review. While already accessible on line for PC users through PressDisplay at "", TVR access over the Mobile News Network would mean effortlessly navigating our latest stories and photos while waiting to go through security in the Hong Kong Airport or sipping a pina colada on the beach of the Costa del Sol.

Other articles from this issue: