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Why the iPhone matters: 8 questions for Horace Dediu

John Cox of Network World:

We asked him eight questions about the five-year impact of Apple’s iPhone, and he replied from his iPad.

Q: Five years ago, people actually began to get their hands on the Apple iPhone. There were other smartphones; no prior phone products from Apple; there was no App Store, no apps “ecosystem.” So what accounted for its initial success with consumers?

Read my answer and the entire interview here:

Why the iPhone matters: 8 questions for Horace Dediu

  • KitFR

    Great interview but I think you should have mentioned the importance of the touch interface, at least during the iPhone’s first couple of years. Despite all of its limitations, I don’t believe we will ever see another mobile phone so far ahead of its time and just so damn cool. A stylus-driven second-generation Newton would have been dead in the water despite everything else that Apple brought to the table.

  • Mike Wren

    “What makes Apple unique is that most competitors have not had the ability to integrate since they’ve been running in the opposite direction for so long (i.e., outsourcing as much as possible).”

    For the tablet market, Microsoft with the Surface, Google with the Nexus 7 tablet and Amazon with the Kindle Fire are moving toward the integrated approach. Microsoft is being tentative by only selling through its twenty stores and online so as not to piss off the OEMs too much. Google is using Asustek instead of Motorola for perhaps the same reason. Amazon is relatively new to making hardware to sell but it has the best ecosystem after Apple.

    I don’t have much of an idea what Samsung will do. They seem to be happy with adding small unique features to their Android phones and tablets. They are successful now so they are unmotivated to take a more integrated approach which would involve risk. But they are pushing the Linux based Tizen OS and joined The Linux Foundation with the highest level of membership giving them a seat on the board of directors. But right now it’s just a hobby like Apple with Apple TV.

    Microsoft is like RIM in that they want to serve two masters — the enterprise IT director and the consumer. Google didn’t give a shit about setting up a decent marketplace for selling apps and they almost seem to despise dedicated tablet apps. Google took the religion of openness too far and is reluctant to make a course correction since that goes against their DNA. I’m betting on Amazon for #2 in the tablet market after Apple because they are more serious than Microsoft and Google about the opportunity and unlike both of them, Amazon knows how to sell things, an advantage that shouldn’t be underestimated.

    • JohnDoey

      Apple is also a retailer, and very successful.

      Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, and Surface are all US-only. Their ecosystems are US-only. Only 1/3rd of Apple is in the US.

      One thing that really helps to put Kindle Fire, Nexus 7, and Surface into perspective is to remember they are all iPods. They are over 10 years behind iTunes, not just 5 years behind iPhone or 2 years behind iPad. Amazon, Google, and Microsoft have to take on iTunes. It is not a small thing and Google’s Andy Rubin said at the Nexus 7 launch that Google only now just realized that ARM-based devices “require a matching content ecosystem.” How did they miss that from watching iTunes obliterate not only all other ARM-based competitors, but it also took over Windows PC’s, where it is the most popular 3rd party app. So Google at least has no clue what they are doing.

      • Mike Wren

        ‘It is not a small thing and Google’s Andy Rubin said at the Nexus 7 launch that Google only now just realized that ARM-based devices “require a matching content ecosystem.”’

        It’s another example of my point that Google doesn’t give a shit about sales. They are only interested in the fun techie part and making money through ads. And “openness” is a techie religion — which hurt their app store with crapware and malware. (Apple can be open too, i.e., WebKit.)

      • simon

        I see openness as not just a religion but a very clever marketing tactic on Google’s part. They closely guard the core part of their business namely the server hardware design and the search&ad algorithm, while preaching open. It is hypocritical but it’s also a very smart marketing decision.

  • JohnDoey

    It is not true that there was no “apps ecosystem” for iPhone from mid-2007 through mid-2008. The device shipped with roughly 16 native C/C++ apps that were much more powerful than any other phone apps at the time, and additional apps were added in iOS 1.1 or 1.2. The first iPhone buyers (me included) were buying the apps.