Apple iPhone, holy grail or false prophet?

And so it was on Tuesday that Jobs descended from Mt Cupertino and delivered to the faithful the much coveted iPhone.

A product somewhat smaller than Moses’s tablets of 4000 years before, but nevertheless a device poised to deliver a similar impact, at least in technological terms. But what’s all the fuss about?

In a nutshell, the iPhone promises to do for mobile telephones what the iPod has done for music. That is, to deliver a simplified yet rich user experience, combining for the first time a phone, contacts, calendar, email, real internet browsing and, in a unique twist, a promising partnership with Google.

Check out this ad, and the entire platform makes sense.

As an entrepreneur, business technologist, and design sympathiser, I can’t help but feel excited by a deliciously sexy device that delivers real-time access to the internet, and otherwise creates a platform where I have all the benefits of my home Mac when I’m on the road.

However, is this anything new? I think so, in execution at least, and here is a short list of the everyday features that people are going to love about the iPhone.

  • It’s the most logical phone on the planet. Easily find a contact in an email, contacts list, website, and call them.
  • Late for an appointment? Can’t find an address? Need directions? Google Maps are now in your pocket.
  • Web-based services are hugely popular and here the divide is crossed into handheld territory en-masse for the first time. MySpace, Salesforce, Twitter, productivity tools, newspapers, SmartCompany, Crikey! Great for my own benefit or when working with clients.
  • Music & Movies. Browse the iTunes store anywhere and download music/movies for the road.
  • Cheap phone calls? I use Skype religiously, and one can only imagine that delivering VOIP/WiFi functions for iPhone is just on the horizon.

Our short technological history is littered with examples of products that were seemingly “under featured” yet ultimately succeeded because they got the mix of usability and functionality right, and then evolved to meet new requirements. Like the iPod before it, I suspect the iPhone will part the waters for Apple Corp and deliver yet another fantastic growth story.

What do you think?

– Ben Prendergast