A victory of usability and one clear victor
The cell-phone consumer

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:

Next on MySpace or else

It so happens that I became more accustomed with MySpace on behalf of a special type of client, a rap musician from West Hollywood. From afar, MySpace is one of the early success stories of Web 2.0, a place where user generated content and communities are thriving.

In theory this a marriage made in heaven: A virtual place to loiter is provided to those whose most resource is time. On the supply side, Mr. Murdoch makes most money, on advertising, while paying for technology. For the aspiring artist, with little DIY technology skills, MySpace seems like the shortest path to the audience. However, the MySpace audience is fickle and very hard to monetize on. In a sense, MySpace replaces the studios in that it provides a launching pad for many artists, yet it is only in theory that the successful artist stands to make some money. MySpace expenditures are mostly about the technology while marketing costs are very low--so it's the only one that can scale.

Consequently, artists may do better if they leverage MySpace-type of websites as mere portals into online properties they actually own and manage. For its part, MySpace can still make the extra steps and offer more to the aspiring artists, not only in terms of revenue sharing, but also in terms of providing support for a sustainable business model for artists. For example, as far as features of such technology support, MySpace can provide analytics, traffic management, payment systems, etc.

For practical details on enhancing either side of the virtual community equation, contact fCh.