iPhone a hit, but...


The launch of the iPhone, Apple’s new phone, Internet and multimedia device, was a success at every level last week.

First you had the usual army of tech geeks, lining up for days in front of some American retailers in order to be the first to purchase the device. As usual the media took notice of these long lines, ratcheting consumer expectations into a frenzy.

Then you had the reviews. Apple gave tech reviewers iPhones about two weeks in advance of the launch date in order to get as much media attention as possible for their device, and for the most part the reviews were positive. CNet ( ), one of the stingiest and most respected review sites on the web, gave the iPhone an 8.0 out of 10. Their customers, however, gave the iPhone a 6.6, once again proving that inflated hype and expectations are almost always deflated.

Lastly, Apple posted the kind of sales numbers in less than three days that investors drool over. Some 525,000 units were sold in the first weekend, with many stores running out of stock. Launches in Europe and Asia will follow in the next few months once production catches up to the demand, en route to projected worldwide iPhone sales of 10 million.

There are no planned launch dates for Canada, which is the result of both manufacturing limitations and the fact that the phone is made to be compatible with AT&T/Cingular services, and is therefore not fully compatible with any wireless services offered in Canada.

Maybe it’s just as well for Canadians. By all accounts, the iPhone is far from perfect or affordable at this stage.

Most negative reviews have noted that the iPhone is actually less capable than other cell phone/MP3 players on the market. There is no support for stereo Bluetooth or the 3G standard, which is a basic feature for other phones, and the sound quality varies. They also noted that users have to sync to their computer to manage their music content, that there isn’t much in terms of applications — no games, no productivity software. The web browser is also slow, and doesn’t support most video or flash content. The fact that the storage is not expandable was also identified as an issue, as even the 8 GB model could prove to have too little storage for video, music, games and other applications that presumably will follow the launch.

Other reviews looked at the price, and the way costs will add up for early adopters. Right now it costs about $499 for the 4 GB model and $599 for the 8 GB model (all figures in U.S. dollars). The activation fee is about $36, which includes a mandatory two-year contract. There are three plans available, for $60, $100 and $220 a month, that will cost you between $2,000 and $6,000 over two years when you include the cost of the phone.

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