January 11, 2007
What won't they think of next?! Actually, most of us have been anticipating an all-in-one device like the iPhone for the last few years. "It slices, it dices, ..." Basically, it combines the functions of a cell phone, an iPod (with video), e-mail, and a real Web browser -- not one of those bare-bones Web readers found on newer cell phones. The touch-screen interface is one of the best features, allowing a bigger screen, and allowing users to type text without physical keys. The Google map and weather features will be very useful, and the automatic light and orientation sensors (which regulate the screen appearance) are superb innovation as well. What I found most astonishing was that the thing runs Mac OS X, allowing it to multi-task in an efficient manner! It definitely looks cool, and I'm sure it will be another big hit, but I wonder if talking into the silver box will seem strange for people used to talking into normal cell phones. And where's the antenna? For now at least, Cingular has exclusive rights to cell phone service with the iPhone. That makes sense, since they came out with a cell phone last year that works with Apple's iTunes program. For all the details, see apple.com. In connection with the new product announcements at the MacWorld show in San Francisco, the company is no longer called "Apple Computer, Inc.," but just "Apple, Inc." Nevertheless, they are gaining market share as more people get fed up with the security flaws and crappy functionality of "Wintel" machines. Will Vista change that?
The iPhone announcement came at an awkward time for Steve Jobs, whose image as a high-tech rock star was tarnished after reports of securities infractions. As part of his incentive compensation package, he received 10 million Apple stock options on Jan. 12, 2000, but some of the options were apparently backdated to take advantage of lower prices. Such practices are considered improper, but not necessarily illegal. See Washington Post. In my mind, the very notion of stock options constitutes a moral hazard bordering on fraud.