posted by David Adams on Wed 1st Aug 2007 06:25 UTC

"Page 7"

There's one last category that I didn't mention before, and that's stuff Apple will add to the iPhone in later updates that nobody wants. The iPhone is a good eBook reader. I read the first few chapters of the latest Harry Potter on it. It already supports PDFs, though its PDF reader could use a little more functionality. I'm sure that eventually Apple will include an ebook reader that supports DRM ebooks. The problem is, people don't want to buy books that include the kinds of restrictions on copying that publishers seem to be demanding, and don't want to pay the inflated prices that many ebooks cost. As I mentioned earlier, future iPhones will certainly have the ability to let you purchase a lot of crap from iTunes that you really want to be able to load on your iPhone yourself, like videos or ringtones. It will also include subscription or fee-based apps and services that should be free or should have been included in the first place. Unfortunately, I'm pretty sure that iPhone users will have to suffer the collateral damage of not having functionality they want, like unrestricted file management, to protect potential sources of revenue for Apple.

There was one important feature that I didn't know how to categorize because I don't fully understand its technical and legal ramifications: push email. The Blackberry's big innovation is that unlike all other mobile email devices, including the iPhone, you don't have to reach out and check for new email on the Blackberry; when new mail comes, it gets pushed out to the device, and can trigger an alert. That's what makes the Blackberry so annoying to families of Blackberry users. But businesspeople love that feature, because it keeps them totally up-to-date. Providing this feature, however, requires a specific email service, that combines email with a messaging service for notification and push delivery of the message, which Apple would have to either create in-house or partner with somebody on (RIM, perhaps). I also don't know whether this service could be offered without infringing on some Blackberry patent. Maybe Apple has something like this in the works, maybe not.

Push email is one of many functionality and security features that the iPhone would need to compete in the business market. I suspect that Apple is working on some features like in-device encryption, VPN and other security systems to keep confidential data private, and better integration with both common desktop apps like Outlook and Office, and with custom systems used by large companies. That's a topic for another article.

The iPhone is a great device, that, despite the shortcomings I've cataloged here is a more elegant, usable, and arguably more useful tool than anything else on the market. Over the next year, Apple is likely to make many improvements via software updates, and the subsequent versions are sure to contain new features that make the early adopters quickly eBay their G1 iPhones. Apple has a huge opportunity here to totally dominate the largest and most important segment of the high tech industry, but they will fail to reach their full potential if they don't pay close attention to their customers' needs and put their users first. I hope someone at Apple is reading this, and that they steal all my ideas. If they'd like to hire me as a consultant, my fees are very reasonable.

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