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Al Ries Says the iPhone Will Fail

Iphone2Al Ries is one of my favorite authors and, IMHO, a marketing/branding genius.  While I'm not so sure I agree with his latest article, Why the iPhone Will Fail, he does make some interesting points.

Regardless of whether it succeeds or fails, I still think Apple is leaving money on the table, at least initially...  The early adopters of Apple products have proven that money is no object, especially when it comes down to being the first on your block with the new iDevice.


Michael Miller

I'm of mixed opinions on the iPhone. On the plus side, the touchscreen navigation is great, I like the real web browsing (none of this mobile website stuff), and the widescreen display. Plus, it's an Apple; the Apple geeksters will buy anything Steve Jobs puts out and call it great, even if it isn't. On the minus side, the touchscreen display means no tactile keyboard, which means it's a no-go for text messagers and business emailers. Also, the 8GB memory limit means that, despite the great screen, it doesn't have enough storage for movies -- or big music libraries, for that matter. Then there's the fact that it uses AT&T/Cingular solely, and that company's very slow 2.5G EDGE network, and you get a horrible Internet experience. (And you're locked in for two years of that horrible AT&T service, too.) Finally, there's the cost; at $599, it's a very high-priced phone, or a very high-priced iPod, however you approach it.

Do the postives -- especially the Apple aura -- outweigh the negatives? I don't know. The Apple aura is a powerful factor, and it's getting lots of press. I have no doubt that there will be huge lines at the Apple and AT&T stores on June 29th.

But Ries might be right; while the iPhone does some old things in new ways, it really doesn't do anything new. And, as a convergence device, it's not great at either of its two functions. It's a high-priced phone with a lousy keyboard, and a high-priced iPod with too little memory. There are some divergent features -- the web surfing, primarily -- but it is essentially a compromised phone/iPod combination. If I want a great smartphone, there are plenty of lower-priced choices. If I want an iPod, there are also plenty of lower-priced choices. (Although that touchscreen is pretty nifty...)

Be interesting to see how it plays out over the long-term.

Joel Fugazzotto

In Apple's favor, whether the product succeeds or fails, I don't think I've seen so much buzz about a product before it's even been released. I think most companies can only dream of getting the press the iPhone is getting right now. If Apple has one thing wired with its consumer products, it's PR and marketing.


I think Ries may have selective memory when applying his divergence theory. Camera-phone, anyone? And we know how dedicated e-book readers have taken off in popularity.

I think the iPhone will appeal to people who are experiencing device overload and only want to have to keep up with one item. It may not be the revolutionary device it's hyped up to be, but as long as it performs reasonably well some people may feel that's good enough.

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