James Governor's Monkchips

Balance on the iPhone (and iPhone as the Sex Pistols)

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Thank God Stephen is providing some or I would have puked by now. Damn near every single feed I read has someone utterly breathless about something that will be “great when you get it”. The incredible power of slick design. Stephen’s piece is here and he posts some skeptical links here.

You know what? I don’t want to be hardware constrained. Its one reason I don’t like DRM.

You have to admire Apple’s ability to get things “right first time”, though I can’t help but see the Apple rapture as a kind of mania. Meanwhile if it was a Microsoft product we’d be saying ah yes “version 1 I will just wait till they get to version 3″… Well done Apple, you certainly got the telco industry’s attention. The question now is – what do you do with it? I want to see open gardens. 3 may still be the future, iPhone buzz notwithstanding. How many dogs can the tail wag? I can’t really understand why Apple didn’t do a better job mollifying Cisco; instead it just declared war on the network giant’s emerging consumer business.
I am a strange kind of contrarian, it seems, perhaps just a reactionary even. I don’t like lock in. But I am also not a design head… interestingly neither is Stephen.

update: Here is another good roundup of European reactions from the boys at Vecosys. How you can not run a quote like this one from Russell Buckley?

“My gut feel verdict on the iPhone though, is that it will be like the Sex Pistols of the music industry. Hugely disruptive, headline stealing and immensely influential, but ultimately, others will come along who’ll take the good bits, dominate the market and make most of the money.”


  1. I sat on the train this morning and gathered up my own list of the more skeptical responses. They make a fine counterbalance. I have to say that the flashiness is enough to wow a geek like me, as you saw on my blog (… and I reckon the word “cool!” at least momentarily flashed through your mind when you saw some of the demos, too…). When you stop to think through some of the limitations, though, balance is restored.

  2. Incidentally, I am already wearing my flak jacket 😉

    I stand by my comments on device convergence, but may prove to have gone overboard in my boyish enthusiasm for it all.

  3. Totally agree about open gardens!

    You know what makes me laugh, most folks (sigh…including myself) who are such supporters of open standards, open source, freedom and choice when it comes to enterprise software seem to be (amongst) the biggest Apple fans.

    As I’ve written here, does that mean open standards/open source/freedom/choice are things we’re willing to trade off against coolness and enjoyment when it comes to our consumer purchases, but not our enterprise purchases?


  4. Savio makes a great point (asks a great question).

    “…(amongst) the biggest Apple fans.”

    I think much of our interest in open source | open standards | freedom of choice was incubated in the traffic-jam crucible of the dominance of our choices by a culture of anti-design with emphasis of Soviet API-control — which has become as unmanageable and distracting as a Control Economy.

    It’s becoming apparent to me that freedom is good but we value quality even more.

    Incidentally, I disagree with the reactionary back-lash: iPhone — or whatever it will be called (they’ll come up with an even better name rather than pay Cisco [who will ask too much] 😉 — is for real. Disruptive, difficult to get used to, but easy to use, beautiful (makes one feel good about oneself) and for real.

    It will take some of Blackberry’s share but will redefine the SmartPhone market to be a different, much larger thing. People! They are just getting started to leverage the, quite literally portable, BSD kernel.

  5. as i have said before if people really cared about open, IBM’s marketing dollars would have propelled it into number one spot in most markets. IBM has marketed around open more than any other vendor in recent times. But they still buy closed.

    Savio I think you are right on.

    I found it very interesting to see Andy Piper from IBM say he no longer believes in SOA but thinks an integrated experience is more important than componentisation. http://andypiper.wordpress.com/2007/01/09/apple-convergence-is-now/

    Joining things together with bits of string is what gives us freedom.

  6. Thanks James 🙂

    I clarified over on my blog, as you’ve seen – since you’ve invited me to write the same thing here, I will.

    The thing I’m impressed by is the apparent neatness of the device convergence… I absolutely still think that open standards are needed for e.g. the web interaction (see the Google Maps stuff on the iPhone, the gadgets, and I imagine all kinds of other stuff). I’m thinking about the way in which this particular device appears to combine the phone/music/camera/photos/browser in a elegant way (although just how seamlessly it all works remains to be seen). That was where the “convergence” angle came from.

    I liked Eric Schmidt’s comment in the keynote about companies doing the best things they can. It seems to me (and I don’t actually own any) that Apple make nice devices; I’m not so sure about the services that they offer. I believe that the SOA style can enable these kinds of devices to make the use of the best services they can 🙂

    By the way, in the cold light of day, I’m still wowed by the demos on the Apple site, but I’m considering it all a lot more carefully. I’ll be interested to see where they go with e.g. 3G in Europe; how well this works as a converged device; how well the Apple manufacturing, retail and support infrastructure can scale to support the possible demand; how well it works with other devices when it does need to interoperate (Bluetooth, Wifi etc.).

    As as added thought – an integrated user experience is what you can get through things like middleware portals. This is, of course, on the user interface side of things. Open standards, SOA and, as you put it componentisation can absolutely underpin this.

    Maybe the iPhone is a really, really slick looking hardware / software mashup? It sounds like a lot of it is a lot more closed than might be ideal – but basically they’ve put together a lot of successful components, added a nice sprinkle of style, and not mentioned some of the closed bits yet.

    I like your thought about Apple seemingly getting things right first time – I’d suggest that the secrecy and the time they take to produce a market-wowing device like this contributes to the success of their “right first time” products.

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