Cognitive Daily

For some reason I can’t resist watching Steve Jobs’ Apple keynote speeches. I watched six years ago when he introduced the iPod, and I watched again last night when he introduced his latest “revolutionary” product. People were amazed when the iPod was introduced — but a little shocked by the price. I didn’t buy an iPod then, but I finally did break down and buy a $99 shuffle when it was released a year or two back.

So what about the iPhone? By all accounts, it’s an amazing device, offering not only a telephone, but also email, messaging, a beautiful web browser, and of course, iPod functionality with a gorgeous 3.5 inch color screen for watching TV shows and movies. All this, for only $499!

Doesn’t sound too expensive, but let’s compare it to my current phone setup. I’m not a “power” phone user, by any stretch. On a typical month, I make about 10 minutes’ worth of calls, generally to check on my kids or to call home to from the grocery store to ask what I was supposed to be getting. I have a prepaid plan that charges me $.18 per minute. But I must spend at least $80 per year to keep the phone active, so my per-minute rate is actually about 66 cents.

How does that compare to the iPhone? The cheapest Cingular plan is $39 per month, and I must sign a 2-year contract to get the $499 phone. At 10 minutes per month, my rate is $5.98 per minute. Wow, that’s steep! And that doesn’t even count Internet access, which costs another $19 per month. Is a fancy new phone worth 9 times what I’m paying for my current setup? Somehow I doubt it.

Even if I increased my phone used by tenfold, I’d still be paying an average of $.59 per minute with the Apple phone, compared to $.18 for my current phone — still more than three times as much. At this rate, it might be tempting, but it would require me to talk on my cell phone a whole lot more. And I hate talking on cell phones.

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  1. #1 Jason
    January 10, 2007

    So you hate talking on cell phones, ever thing you might not be in their target audience for a phone like this?

  2. #2 Mondo
    January 10, 2007

    I watched the keynote address too. The iPhone looks awesome. Like you I have no need for a phone, and so I await the iPhone minus the phone parts in whatever format that might take. Next generation of Ipod most likely. The scrolling and the screen manipulation look genuinely usefull for pda/ipod type devices.

  3. #3 Orac
    January 10, 2007

    I want one, but I can wait.

    For one thing, I don’t want to be the guinea pig for the glitches that are inevitable in a new product like this. For another thing, I’m not with Cingular and am locked into a contract for another year and a half. It’s not worth the early termination fee just to get one of these babies. Finally, I’m guessing that this phone will, after a time, be offered by other cell phone carriers.

    I’m actually far more interested in the Apple TV box. Now that‘s cool, as it would let me transfer movies on my hard drive to it over my wireless network and watch them on my big screen TV. And it’s only $250. From my perspective, the Apple TV is a product that’s far more likely to “change everything” than the iPhone, which, when you come right down to it, is simply a very sexy version of products that already exist in less attractive forms. The iPhone is basically a phone-PDA combo on steroids coupled with an MP3 player.

  4. #4 Lantern Bearer
    January 10, 2007

    Steve Jobs is struggling. Once a great mind sails ’round the Horn, all else is marketing.

    Yes, the target market- the fertile field is he perpetually juvenile, gee-whiz crowd that is the life blood of marketeers. This Jobs’ piece is right up there with the reinvention of the leisure suit and the sitting Buddha medallion.

    I call on people everyday that have all the bells and whistles rattling around in their messenger bags and they end up paying me to learn how to use a packet of 3X5 cards and mind mapping to get a step up on the bells and whistle competition.

    There is nothing in the Iphone that will clear up the perpetually pimpled and the half snort and chortle fresh MBA still working on his approach shots. It is a toy – a very seriously priced toy. But destined to the realm of “Stevie, Baby! What were you thinking?”

    I do have a friend who will put together a custom buggy whip for you for around a grand. He sits on the sunny side of his view of the Shenandoah and makes one a day from Amoy cane and locally tanned ans split leather. They are sort of the Iphone of the buggy whip crowd, but if you are going to Hardscuffle in the spring, look at the buggy whips.

    Thanks, NEXT.

    Lantern Bearer

  5. #5 P. E. Sullivan
    January 10, 2007

    I agree completely. I love the look of the phone; however, I can not begin to imagine how I could justify my limited use. I will be waiting a few more years on this one.


  6. #6 Scott Belyea
    January 10, 2007

    I’m not looking forward to the next time I replace a cell phone. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to explain to people that I want a cell phone for … gasps of horror … making phone calls.

  7. #7 Dave Munger
    January 10, 2007

    It’s not that I have no need for a phone, and I actually would love to have all the non-phone functions of this device. It’s just that given my level of phone usage, the required carrier has no plans that suit my needs. The problem is, in order to offer the device at such a low price, it must be “bundled” with a minimum of $936 of phone service. Given that I now pay $160 for the same period of phone usage, this is a no-deal for me.

    I imagine the discount Cingular actually gets for forcing users into that “deal” for phone service is significantly less than the $776 difference between my current phone service and their phone service. I might pay some amount more than $499 for an iPhone, but not $776 more. Cingular gives me no choice in the matter.

  8. #8 Natalie
    January 10, 2007

    Your non-use of a cell phone just puts you in the “old fogey” crowd who doesn’t see a need for using that new-fangled technology all the time. (I fit in that crowd too.) Now, if you were a college student and had to whip out the phone as soon as you step out of the classroom, and probably sneak a few text messages in while still actually in class, your need/desire for an iPhone would be considerably higher!

  9. #9 Deepak
    January 10, 2007

    Compare to my phone use, where I easily use all the minutes in my $59.99 plan and send about 50 emails and 20 sms’ a day. These are not social calls mind you, so I would suspect that the demographic is one of two

    1. The business user, especially heavy travellers
    2. The iPod/Razr using crowd, who get both on the same device

    I don’t like carrying my laptop everywhere, so being able to do a lot of tasks from my mobile phone is very very useful.

    Now, the vendor lock in (although I am a Cingular user) and lack of 3G are bigger issues for me.

  10. #10 Clark
    January 11, 2007

    I’ll lay really good odds that the replacement for the top end iPod will come out around June when the iPod does using the same interface and screen but minus the WiFi and Phone stuff but having a HD drive instead. So if you just want a limited PDA and iPod that can actually store more than one movie that might be the phone for you.

    As for me, I’ve been looking at smart phones and PDAs because I need one for my business to keep track of contacts, appointments, and to do limited email. To me this is a godsend. Yes you’ll probably be paying about $60 a month for your plan. But it’ll be worth it.

    My big complaints? No spreadsheet that I can see (although maybe they’ll add that by June), and 8G is still a very small amount of storage.

  11. #11 Angyl
    January 12, 2007

    I’m on a completely different end of the spectrum. I don’t even have a land line, just a smartphone (Treo650) which I picked in part because it plays nicely with my Macs. I use 800-1000 daytime minutes a month, check email, surf the web, keep track of my tasks, and use it as small GPS display when driving. I’m very excited about the iPhone, but I’ll wait a year or two before getting one to let the bugs get ironed out, the storage get pumped up, and see what variety of third-party apps become available.

  12. #12 SmellyTerror
    January 14, 2007

    Teehee! “Cell phone”!

    You guys are so old.

  13. #13 Eric Stern
    January 25, 2007

    Just wondering if anybody has tried CellSwapper
    to get out of their phone contracts without paying any early termination

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