Suffice it to say that iPhone is what you could at most have dreamed about, yet as soon as you see it you may well say: This is it! Any more appreciative talk about iPhone, the product, is akin to belaboring the obvious. Analyzing iPhone, the experience, can yield useful insights. Defining the iPhone experience at the intersection of the iPhone product and AT&T' Edge service is the first step. And here's where the problems start for the iPhone experience.
Indeed, AT&T Edge is so inadequate that one is left wondering why Steve Jobs is betting the (early) commercial success of iPhone on a sub-par communications network. For one, Jobs knew better iPod, the product, had to be complemented by iTunes in order to make a successful iPod experience. And, to top it all, AT&T and iPhone are in a long term exclusive relationship. At this time, for all we know, AT&T is working hard to update its network to 3G and has the lion share of the cell-phone market in the US.
This situation begs the question of the nature of the deal behind such marriage. Financially speaking, at least until AT&T gets to 3G, it could be a zero-sum game: Whatever Apple misses due to exclusivity, AT&T pays back in one way way or the other. And, as if to keep a 1/2 ace in its sleeve, iPhone has Wi-Fi connectivity.
Moreover, to protect its own iPod franchise, the storage capacity of the iPhone is rather limited and no extension slot, for memory or applications, is provided. This is despite Apple's calling the iPhone the best iPod to date.
What are the other players in the market going to do?
Nokia is probably the best positioned to counter Apple's iPhone. If MYLO is any indication, Sony/Ericsson will most likely keep overreacting with some feature-laden product. Samsung still has to overcome technology hurdles to play in the premium segment. Motorola and Palm will take at least a temporary hit until they can turn on real innovations. RIM is probably protected until the market figures out whether or not iPhone is a contender in corporate email.
The discussion for wireless carriers goes in two directions. For US-based carriers, the best hope is to roll-out products mimicking iPhone before AT&T upgrades its network. The non US-based carriers will most likely enter some sort of mating dance contest to win Apple over--the market leaders will be the probable winners.
Regardless the strategies each player will implement, there is already a clear winner, the consumer.
For those readers who are still to get their hands onto an iPhone, I suggest watching the following two clips as a good approximation for the better half of the experience: