I'm beginning to think so. I don't actually own an iPhone. After all, I don't write software for any Apple products, and if I did I don't think I'd feel comfortable giving 30% of the revenue back to the mothership. Hell, that feels downright communist to me, so as a developer I choose a mobile development platform that doesn't make someone else rich.
But the iPhone is much more than just a hardware device with an Apple O/S. It's also the integration of that hardware and software into the network. That's a new model for Apple, which up until now has put it's stake in the market primarily as a software company. Really new. Is it possible that Apple is having a really hard time finding ways to monetize their success even though they've gained substantial ground in the mobile device market? After all, if they were actually making money selling the hardware, taking 30% of the little guy's money to write software on their platform would just be downright greedy. I imagine this is probably akin to the gaming industry not making money selling consoles, but instead making money on their interactive services and software.
So, for once, Apple doesn't have their grip on every piece of the platform. For years the company has been releasing device after device where they control both the hardware and the software. Now, they rely heavily on AT&T to pull through with the network, providing the right level of bandwidth (consistently) for their fancy-pants new 3G iPhones. Without bandwidth you've got a $299 shiny brick, because it's the network that makes a mobile device work well. So, Apple, listen up: All the shiny buttons and fancy UI tricks in the world won't save the iPhone if the network isn't just as great.
I imagine the fancy-pants engineers and executives at Apple knew this before getting in bed with AT&T (which IMHO is perhaps the worst cell phone service provider in history). But, as the following video illustrates, I imagined incorrectly:
So, with all the fancy spin from the Apple marketing department about how fast the new iPhone 3G is, I started to wonder if maybe those guys should be working on the Obama and McCain campaign ads. If spin is the game, these guys are spinning all day long, selling over 65 million of the shiny bricks without actually having a fast network to back it up. I know that the iPhone browsing experience demonstrated on this video is not unique to some super-rural geography in Montana, because I've used AT&T's network all over Florida and it clearly trails behind Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile. I'm sure the emails will start piling in soon from the Apple fanboys. Be warned: I've got both Sprint and Verizon's mobile broadband at my disposal, I'm willing to go head to head anywhere in Florida with a download test on the AT&T network to see who's really got the better network.
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