Mobbing the iPhone yesterday at Macworld. Photo by Malabooboo
We didn't want to have to write this article. As Global Voices‘ Latin America editor/Spanish translator/Digest dude David Sasaki wrote on one of our mailing lists yesterday, “I have low tolerance for the amount of internet bandwidth dedicated to the latest and greatest Apple product. . . .” Searching his Latin America RSS feeds, however, David could find “little else other than excited talk about the Apple iPhone,” and several of our other authors and editors reported on similar oohing and aahing coming from their respective blogospheres.
For the benefit those of you who don't spend your waking hours refreshing the pages of Digg and Endgadget, here's a little context: the iPhone, Apple Computer's long-awaited combination mobile phone/iPod/Internet communications device, was unveiled yesterday by Apple CEO Steve Jobs during the keynote address at the opening of the Macworld conference in San Francisco. Arguably the most speculated-upon device since the ancient Sumerians were wondering whether the wheel would really rotate on its axis, the iPhone, with its movie-star looks and a feature set possibly deserving of the term “revolutionary”, won't arrive in stores — in the US — for another five months; and when it does, it will be tied initially to a single US service provider. (A launch in Europe is announced for later in 2007, with the iPhone becoming available on the Asian market in 2008). Price? US$500 for the basic (4GB) model.
So why the keen interest from outside the US in this costly gadget most of the world won't have access to for quite some time? Partial credit certainly belongs to what's come to be known as the “Apple Effect”, the company's legendary ability to create pre-release hype around their products, and also to the fact that geeks, no matter where they live, just can't help it. But perhaps the more compelling reason is the critical role played by mobile technology in the information landscapes of many countries, notably in the developing world. As Trinidadian blogger Taran Rampersad observed yesterday, “global mobile phone usage 2 years ago is higher than the global internet penetration at present. Phones haven't stopped selling in the last 2 years.”
TechnoCHICA, a group blog based in Panama City and focused on “personal technology for women,” noted the recent doubts expressed by Microsoft about Apple's ability to make the iPhone a success, adding (ES) that
Despite warnings from an envious Microsoft, I am sure it will be a complete hit. I already want one. It's not just a simply beautiful and innovative cell phone (200 new patents), but also a video and audio digital player.
Juliana Boersner, writing from Venezuela, pointed out the device's truly “digital” qualities:
among the most interesting and innovative characteristics is that it will use a multitouch technology that is based on the best instrument that was never invented: our fingers.
Kike from Guatemala, however, was most excited (ES) at the fact that “it runs OS X and supports Widgets, Google Maps, Safari, and of course, iTunes and surely some other applications for OS X,” a view endorsed by Mexican Eduardo Arcos (ES) who believes the inclusion of OS X (Apple's operating system) renders the device:
100% multitask-ready and trustworthy, redefining what can be done with a mobile telephone.
Rodrigo Duarte (ES) was semi-optimistic that he and his fellow Chileans might be able to get their hands on the “super sexy” iPhone sooner rather than later: “It comes out in June in the U.S.A. and maybe here too (2008 in Asia).”
Eastern and Central Europe
In Russian, LiveJournal user nl (RU) linked to the live broadcast of Macworld Expo posted at MacRumorsLive.com. In the comments thread, bloggers wondered how much the iPhone is going to cost in Russia and agreed that the price was likely to be much higher than in the United States. Another blogger was concerned about the device's durability: “I wonder if the screen is going to get scratched as easily and fingerprints will glisten as brightly on it as on the iPod Nano and Sony PSP screens?”
Habrahabr.ru blog translated the transcript of the Macworld Expo's live broadcast into Russian, but failed to provide the link to the broadcast itself, which angered quite a few readers. The translation is extremely detailed, however, and even notes that “I Feel Good” by the late James Brown was played both at the beginning and end of Steve Jobs’ keynote.
Kurtlow.com in Malaysia resorted to religious imagery and metaphors to express his excitement over the arrival of the iPhone:
So the prophecy is true! The messiah is here!! The One. I must be dreaming. The angelic naked virgins on fluffy white clouds should appear anytime now. But they'd better be carrying iPhones.
Oh, and one more thing…
AAAHHOMGOMG IT'S THE iPHONE!! T-H-E iPHONE!!!1 ONE YEAR TO SAVE!!
Also thinking about raising funds to finance his iPhone purchase (the device, as was noted earlier, becomes available in Asia in 2008) was Kevin Lim in Singapore:
Now watch as everyone starts dumping their gadgets on eBay…. anyone interested in my Nokia E61, Nokia 770 Internet Tablet, and Sidekick 2? :P
After months of speculating about the iPhone, shitsoil from Brunei, which is 16 hours ahead of San Francisco, was up in the wee hours of the morning breathlessly awaiting the news from Macworld:
Steve Job is probably on stage showing off Apple's new hardware/gadget's as I am typing this… oh wait.. as a matter of fact Steve Job just got on stage! (9:14)ok, we don't know… well, I don't know what's going on at the moment.. but the word is… the Apple Phone may be announced afterall according to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal…and there's also much talk about an Apple Gaming.. whatever that is~ ok..I'm too lazy to wait and check out the Live updates.. so I'll probably post more about this tomorrow/later.. keep on visiting
Shitsoil delayed his bedtime even further to update his post with a bit of cheerleading for the iPhone (and to sweep aside the poor AppleTV, the other device that Jobs introduced in his keynote):
IM SOOOOOOOOO EXCITED!! just when I was about to go to bed~ I just had to post this!!! ok… So yes, first the iTV (it's actually called AppleTV) was introduced.. but f*** that.. coz the iPHONE exists!! and yes, it's gonna be called an iPhone!!”
Frewstyle in Malaysia, however, was immune to the iPhone hype:
. . . the only eye-opening feature that I found worth the hype is the proximity sensor that enables the phone to automatically turn off its motion sensor screen when you put your phone close to your ear while making a call. Other than this, I don't see how iPhone is going to reinvent anything. It's basically an iPod + phone + browser + whatever not. You don't reinvent, you assemble.
Global Voices‘ South Asia editor Neha Viswanathan summed up the overall reaction to the iPhone in her blogosphere as “Mostly wow! But some concerns for small diskspace. And the flipside – India won't probably see it for a year or two. And it's mighty expensive.”
Shripriya was “following Mac Rumours Live from 11pm to 12:30am in India, Skyping with a fellow mac addict through the entire key note,” but believed that the iPhone's price point
will be a barrier for a lot of people. Especially since there is no subsidizing by Cingular like they usually do. The explanation is that this is the subsidized price, but the marketing sell is missing ($599 from Apple, but only $299 with a Cingular contract blah blah).
Visualreactor concurred, asking: “Now which bank do I rob to raise the funds?”
While Tggokul egged on the Indian service providers:
Come on Airtels, Reliances ( in India). Go ahead, work with Apple and let us use it as well ( I am sure it will take atleast another two years before we see this here).
Last but not least, tech journalist (and GV contributor) Kamla Bhatt, who divides her time between the US and India, showed her Silicon Valley chops in a post which focused largely on the industry reaction and also noted that Apple had announced it was changing its name from Apple Computer to Apple, Inc.
Like many of his fellow Asians, the blogger at jan.yculblog.com, writing from China, took note (ZH) of the iPhone's 2008 release date in Asia, and endorsed the company's name change:
Apples shares have shot up 7.4%, and I see that even the name has changed, from Apple Computers to Apple. If you think about it, with iPods making so much money, and with the iPhone's strong launch, why bother selling computers? They don't make much money.
but refrained from making any predictions about the iPhone's future:
I really like the iPhone, because compared to the iPod, mobile telephones are much more of an essential daily item. Of course, the competition in the mobile telephone market is much more fierce. As Nokia has shown, doing cellphones isn't so easy. What the end result will be, we'll have to wait and see.
GV contributor David Ajao of Nigeria wrote on his blog that “the (rather pricey) device’s design and Graphic User Interface is outstanding and breath-taking,” but notes that while launch dates for Europe and Asia have been announced, there's been “no mention of Africa”.
David's compatriot Yomi also believes that African Apple fans will “have some waiting to do” and reports
– erroneously – that the iPhone lacks a QWERTY keyboard (according to the Apple site, the device does have a “predictive QWERTY soft keyboard”) so “its certainly not my ideal device.” (For the record, according to the Apple site, the device does have a “predictive QWERTY soft keyboard”). Yomi is still interested, however, to see “how fast 3rd Party developers can come out with applications for this platform. In the end, that means a lot in the smartphone world.”
Writing from Kenya, Josiah Mugambi seems to have been hoping for a 3G device and is content to “wait until the release the next version, and yah.. when they make it available worldwide….”.
In a post entitled “The anxiety mounts”, Joan Guerrero in the Dominican Republic painted a picture (ES) of the pre-Macworld anticipation that many Mac addicts throughout the world would probably recognise:
many at this point are in the process of setting aside their office work or perhaps many have even stayed at home. . . Right now, as it's 12:30pm, I'm online with the guys from the Dominican branch of the Apple User Group.
Later, Guerrero predicted that the iPhone will be (ES)
the hot item among artists, reggaetón performers and — why not? — even [Dominican television celebrity and performer] Nikauly de la Mota might think of buying one.
Sean Soares in Bermuda, who ended his post with the line “Macs still suck,” called the iPhone “a product of imagination, myth and legend” and admitted that, as “a fan of sexy tech” he found the iPhone “gorgeous”.
In Trinidad, Taran Rampersad was struck by the iPhone's QWERTY soft keyboard and multi-touch user interface. Rampersad also noted the Apple name change, calling it “probably more interesting than the iPhone itself,” adding that:
Microsoft may have to eat some crow on this one. The device does seem packed with features. While there will be some shaking out of the bugs (always) it seems that Apple has listened quite well to the market in integrating things and providing what a lot of people want.
Also in Trinidad, Caribbean Free Radio expressed admiration for the iPhone's looks and features, but didn't think she'd be acquiring one any time soon:
Thing is, I don’t need an iPhone. . . . Besides, the damn thing costs US$500: know how many Kiva.org entrepreneurs I could finance with that kind of cash??
London-based Trinidadian blogger Seldo, who recently landed a job with Yahoo in San Francisco, calls the iPhone “the sexiest chunk of hardware to grace god's green earth since, well, since the iPod was invented,” and goes on to offer a, detailed, geek-grade — yet highly readable — review of the device, complete with informed predictions:
Frankly, this is always the kind of mobile device we knew would arrive and change the landscape. Personally, I wasn't expecting it to be out for another 3-5 years — roughly how long away I think Nokia and SonyEricsson are from making similar devices at the correct price-point to get adopted by the major networks. But now it's here — or rather, in June it's here, if you live in the states at least, and boy am I glad I'm about to move there — and it's going to be very, very interesting to watch everybody scramble to adjust.
This article was a major collaborative undertaking and would not have seen the light of day without the input of the following: David Sasaki, Veronica Khokhlova, Maurina, Preetam Rai, Neha Viswanathan, David Ajao, Ndesanjo Macha and John Kennedy