The new iPhone will finally be unveiled at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference on Monday. Before getting to know the new iPhone, we checked in with Apple aficionado Andy Ihnatko about the impact to date of Apple's last major announcement - the iPad.
Measure the impact of the iPad (in sales and pop cultural significance) relative to its expectations between January and April this year.
I don't think anybody was predicting that it'd be selling a million units per month, and that two months after its release there'd still be a waiting list for certain models. Someone asked me for a prediction during launch week. I was being cautious by predicting that they'd sell three million in the first year; even so, I thought that five million would be optimistic for something so unproven. At this point it's hard to remember that the iPad was an utterly new and untested concept. Would people react to it as a computer? As a computer accessory? As a media player? I'm still not sure how people are categorizing the iPad, but they're sure buying 'em.
I'm not sure about the pop culture significance of the iPad just yet. It's hard to watch a day's worth of TV without someone flashing their iPhone on-camera. The iPad's too big to have in a jacket pocket while you're on the Letterman show.
Compare and contrast the lead-up to the new iPhone relative to the iPad announcement and commercial release. Is there anything coming out of Monday's announcement that could eclipse the iPad announcement? Special Steve surprises?
Apple can't generate the same level of excitement about the third rev of the iPhone as they could with the very first iPad, or the very first iPhone. We've all seen iPhones...the mystery isn't there any more. The initial puppy-dog phase of the relationship is long over and now we're just hoping that in 2010, the iPhone will stop leaving wet towels on the bathroom floor. The love is there; now everyone wants to see some improvement and growth.
As for other announcements and surprises...well, it's important to remember that this is a keynote to an Apple developers' conference. So anything they announce on Monday is going to have a relevance to developers. So if they want to show off something that will require third-party apps, then WWDC is a good place to do that. The timing is also just right for a device or product that will be released to consumers for the holiday season; it gives developers a few months to get their apps out the door.
How much do you think Apple's motives are impacted by Google/Android's emergence in the mobile arena?
I don't think Apple does anything in response to what any other company's doing, honestly. Google went after 'em pretty hard during their own developer keynotes, but that was just basic "Art Of War" sort of stuff: define yourself by choosing the right enemies. I think Apple would rather define themselves by making what they think are the right products. If they were to ever do a 180 and start supporting Flash, it'd be because of blowback from users, not from Adobe or Google.
Still, you have to believe that they've taken a second look at their keynote. It'll be interesting to see which points they address, and how obliquely or directly they choose to do so. Will they have a section on HTML5, and a bunch of charts comparing use of iPhones as Internet media devices compared with Android devices? Or will they be more direct?
Actually, I'm more interested to see if the engineer who lost his sample iPhone 4 in that bar makes an appearance onstage...