iPhone Anxiety

The New York Times has a report on the upcomming iPhone launch, along with all the anticipation and anxiety that is coming along for the ride.

The anticipation, which is intense even by Jobsian standards, has led to some quiet, behind-the-scenes anxiety at Apple. Some Apple executives worry privately that expectations for the one-button phones may be too high and that first-generation buyers will end up disappointed.

I would certainly be anxious too. Apple is stepping into a new market with a product that already has very high visibility. Expect (certain) people to jump on the slightest flaw to pronounce the product DOA.

The second half of the article settles down and provides more useful information and commentary.

To head off potential consumer disappointment, Apple said several months ago that it would have the ability to add features to the iPhones after they were purchased. The company’s executives say that the capability to upgrade the iPhone in the field will give it a significant advantage over other cellphones, which are usually replaced frequently.

I think this will turn out to be very important. Right now phones are pretty static, yes I know you can download applications to them, but the base operating system is baked in. Being able to do field updates is, in my mind, a clear advantage.

Last week, however, at the D: All Things Digital conference, he seemed to relent. He said Apple was looking for ways to make it possible for developers to create software for the iPhone.

A person briefed on Apple’s plans said that at its software developer conference this month, Apple intends to announce that it will make it possible for developers of small programs written for the Macintosh to easily convert them to run on the iPhone.

This very important, opening the iPhone to developers will make the unit much more attractive to consumers who want to extend the built-in applications. Even if Apple restricts the kinds of applications that can be built, there will be people who will just hack the phone.

Software, Mr. Jobs said last week, is what would make the difference. Poor software, he said, is what undermined the Japanese consumer electronics industry. And by that same token, software is what will give the iPhone what he said would be a five-year lead on the rest of the handset industry.

“If you look at the iPhone, it’s software wrapped in wonderful hardware,” he said.

This is a very important point, while the hardware gives a product form and tactile appeal, the software is what we interact with.

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