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iPhone? Nein danke! (iBike? Ja bitte!) 18 January, 2007

Posted by robhollier in mobile.

Few topics have inspired as much animated conversation within the agency recently as the launch of the iPhone. There are even rumours – which I can neither confirm nor deny – that two senior Banner executives have staked a reasonably hefty sum of money on whether or not Apple will still be in the mobile phone business in three years’ time.

Attitudes so far seem to fall into three main camps:

  • Apple has a new shiny product and I want one. It’s a mobile phone? It doesn’t matter, I want one anyway.
  • The iPhone is offering some radically new ideas (e.g. the touch-screen interface) that will shake up the industry.
  • The iPhone is a niche offering that isn’t going to keep Nokia awake at night.

I think there are questions about the scale of Apple’s ultimate ambition. And I suspect it will slowly dawn on the world through this year what a massively powerful and resourceful global distribution machine Nokia has built – with an concomitant acknowledgement of what an under-appreciated asset this machine is.

I also think there’ll be a rueful admission from Apple that, yes, the mobile business has turned out to be altogether trickier than we anticipated. In the short term it’s going to be very interesting to see how the Apple-Cingular (or should that now be Apple-AT&T?) relationship plays out.

In the long-term – in the unlikely event that anyone is interested – my personal hunch is that the iPhone is the last huzzah of the old order. It’s an old-fashioned way of doing things i.e. a walled garden hermetically-sealed black-box approach.

When the iPhone was announced, someone at Banner sent an excitable email suggesting that this should become the agency’s standard mobile device. To which our esteemed Financial Director sent a tart reply: “On your bike.”

In conclusion, therefore, I have to say, firstly, I think our Financial Director is bang-on. Secondly, I’d be very interested in seeing the Apple iBike. Now that could really be something and, as we all know, Apple is no longer just a computer company.



1. Anthony Galvin - 21 January, 2007

The iPod provided Apple with a stepping stone towards being more than just a niche computer company. By choosing to take the next step by moving into the mobile phone market Apple is taking a big leap. The number of parties with a vested interest (networks, handset manufacturers, content providers etc..) is scary.

When you look at the other new product area, Apple TV, it doesn’t seem to be any less of a minefield. It seems unlikely that media corporations, film studios and television networks are going to be particularly accommodating.

Whilst these difficult adventures are underway Apple has also potentially undermined it’s core market. With Apple embracing Intel hardware, you can now run OS X on a PC (http://wiki.osx86project.org/wiki/index.php/Main_Page) and Windows on a Mac (http://www.parallels.com/en/products/desktop/).

The push to get an Apple in every pocket and in every living room is a big gamble. If it doesn’t pay off Steve Jobs (or his successor – whoever that might be) will be left running an operating system company that also makes good looking but expensive PC hardware. It might not be only senior Banner executives who are out of pocket!

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