There has been alot of publicity surrounding the infamous iPhone, but is it really as great as everyone has been making it out to be? This Friday will give us the anwer we are looking for when Apple’s iPhone will be released to the public. Apple will have finally entered the mobile phone market and it will show them whether they made a great product or not.
Some analysts expect the iPhone, which merges an iPod, cellphone, digital camera and Internet communication tool into one device, to forever alter the landscape of the mobile phone industry by creating more sophisticated customers and spawning numerous competitor devices. But the phone’s steep price tag, incompatibility with corporate e-mail accounts and the fact that other similar products already exist, could hinder Apple’s success. And some experts say that the expectations surrounding the phone are so lofty that even the smallest disappointment could have disastrous ramifications for the company and its well-performing stock.
“Generally U.S. consumers are looking for a phone below $200. Above $200 does not usually sell well in the U.S.,” said Chris Hazelton, a senior analyst who covers mobile device technology and trends for Framingham, Mass.-based research firm IDC. However, the phone’s price, and other potential limitations, have done little to dampen the rampant curiosity of Apple fanatics like Steve Gottry, who said he plans to stand in line Friday at the Apple store in Chandler Fashion Center to at least get a glimpse of the iPhone.
“If I have to wait a month or two (to buy one) I will, but I know it’s going to be a fantastic product because pretty much everything they come out with is innovative and sleekly designed and very functional,” said Gottry, 60, of Mesa. What entices Gottry and others about the iPhone is not just the fact that it includes several products all rolled into one, but also the ease with which consumers are supposed to be able to use the different functions. Like other “smart phones” that allow users to send and receive e-mails and surf the Web, the iPhone has a touch screen. But because it does not contain physical numeric and letter keys, it has a wider touch sensitive screen that does not require a separate tool to punch the letters.
Apple has tried to alleviate consumers’ concerns over the likelihood of scratching the screen, an issue with early versions of the iPod Nano, by pointing out that the screen is glass and not plastic and does not require a forceful touch to select a button. In recent weeks consumers and industry watchers have also learned that the iPhone will allow users to watch YouTube videos via wireless Internet or EDGE, a broadband Internet network.
Part of what’s driving the unprecedented hype around the iPhone is Apple’s piece-meal approach to releasing information about the product. Details about the phone, including its features and how customers can get their hands on one, have trickled out-slowly, a bit at a time. The company has granted few interview requests about the device, refused to say how many phones will be available at launch, and is believed to have only made a few of the units available for review.
Experts say the company has mastered the art of marketing. “What it does is it builds awareness, it builds interest and it builds a lot of user-generated commentary and speculation about the phone,” said James Ward, a marketing professor at Arizona State University. “They make almost a sport out of speculating what these products will do, and so when you go in the discussion forums devoted to Apple it is almost a recreational thing to speculate and trade rumors.”
The iPhone was already garnering buzz well before Apple formally announced in January that it planned to release the product. And people began snatching up Internet domain names containing the word “iPhone” in hopes of capitalizing on the phone’s success in some manner. Glendale resident Stephanie Marston bought the domain name “iphoneedu” several months ago with hopes of starting a business to train people programming the iPhone.
The former Dex employee said she used to see corporate executives buy BlackBerry devices and other digital assistant products only to struggle when it came to learning how they worked. So she thinks there is a market for her business idea. “I think the corporate customer is out there for me,” said Marston, 32. “They don’t care what kind of issues there are. They just want to plug their phone in and have it work.”
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