2007-01-26

Apple Reinvents the Phone?

After watching the Steve Jobs iPhone keynote, I have to say I'm a little disappointed. While this phone has a slicker GUI than any other phone I've seen, it's not so much the $499 US price-tag, but the stone-age functionality of the phone that makes my jaw drop.

Here in Japan, 3 years ago in 2004, for 1 yen, I had the following in a cellphone:
  • 3G download speeds of 50 Mb/s
  • Two-way video-phone
  • Built-in fingerprint scanner (for security checks)
  • MP3 player and download service
  • Edy BitWallet (like Interac, except you swipe your finger on the phone's scanner to accept the transaction)
  • Can be used as a Suica train pass
  • Can buy movie tickets and scan in at the theatre, bypassing the lineup
  • Can wave it at vending machines for food and drinks
  • Will figure out train routes, transfer locations and times, and ticket prices
  • Can scan barcodes which take you to websites – eg. scan at the bus station to pull up the schedule or scan a magazine to order a product
  • MP3 player and download service
  • Decent email (+ attachments), SMS, calendaring, notepad
  • Automatic location triangulation (by determining which antennae are nearby) and location-aware mapping, shopping/restaurant listings
  • Interactive mapping of current location with zooming and scrolling
  • Integrated graphical web-browser
  • 1 megapixel Camera, Video camera
  • Display/graph your phone usage to the day
  • Can write and deploy your own Java/C/C++ applets

If you go for a high-end phone with more than the above (e.g. built-in TV tuner), you'll need to pay more than one yen, but the price range is normally below ¥20,000 ($200 Canadian). In its current state, the iPhone won't sell in Japan even if it's free; Apple is going to have to do some major work if it wants to compete with even the bare-bones models on the market in Japan.

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