According to almost everybody on the internet, at 10am PST on the 9th January next year, at the Moscone Center Steve Jobs will introduce the iPhone, perhaps one of the most anticipated products ever from Apple.
There is much speculation as to what the phone will look like and its functionality, and this tends to focus of the “ipodness” of the phone – to me what is interesting are two things is particular, the potential that the iPhone will be should SIM free and that it might contain as well as a camera a GPS.
Actually I think the fact that the iPhone is likely to be sold SIM free and not tied to a network contract is the most important part of the whole iPhone story, – If this does turn out to be the case it will a direct attack on the already crumbling “Walled Garden” model of the operators – a major deterrent in the development of LBS so far.
In the walled garden, you buy a phone at a subsided price from the network operator in return for a service contract, and less obviously a set of applications and services selected and controlled by the operator. So if you want to make use of a music download service, you must use the operators one, likewise want to use LBS then you the one the operator provides.
Of course it is possible to buy phones today SIM free, but the marketing behind Apple and the buzz the iphone will create will I believe shift the market more towards an “open” model, where greater innovation in LBS applications can take place. There is clear precedent for this, just think what the online market might look like if we where all still accessing the net through CompuServe or AOL’s or even Apples eWorld (Anybody else remember that ?) environments.
A couple of months ago there was much excitement when hackers noted the latest version of iPhoto suggested support for co-ordinate metadata to be attached to photos – now what if the source for the photo was the camera in a “smart” iPhone and the metadata came from an onboard GPS chip-set – again this could lead to a future potential market of tens of millions of LBS capable devices.
Well it has me excited !!
Written and submitted from the BA lounge at Heathrow airport, using the BT Openzone wifi broadband internet connection.