iPod phone to arrive early 2007

Apparently, the Apple iPod mobile phone is nearing readiness for release (according to Apple Insider). I am not normally one to just report new news, but this is interesting enough to merit comment.

The iPod itself was a bit of a sleeper when released. It was not "eagerly awaited" (certainly not by the masses), and no-one was expecting it to be such a hit. Now, we all have very high expectations for pretty much everything Apple does, including this phone, which has been expected imminently for a couple of years. Given the number of business plans that we see relating to mobile phones and mobile content (videos, songs, news, maps, contact info all on your phone), the presumptively named iPhone is the object of both desire and fear in different quarters.

In the enterprise IT world desktop PCs started with small amounts of storage. Over time they gained larger amounts as prices fell. Now we are reverting to smaller amounts again, this time relying on storing all that data on big, central servers accessible over a powerful network.

The mobile phone might be analogous to the PC, and we are in the phase of increasing the amount of storage available on the phone (hence the ability to make a phone with all that iPod stuff on it). Will this, too, be a passing phase? Will the mobile phone end up with less storage and rely on stored media accessible through a more powerful wireless network (imagine video on demand on your phone)?

In the PC world, the communications network is a cheap commodity and the prices to transfer information have fallen remarkably. In the mobile phone world, the carriers (Vodafone, Verizon Wireless etc) continue to extract high prices for mediocre service to transfer data to/from the phone (compared to wired networks). It will be interesting to see whether the wireless carriers try to avoid the fate of their wireline elders - somehow trying to avoid commodification of the wireless network. Conventional wisdom suggests they will fail to stop the tide of progress, and so I expect some of the carriers (the new or the brave) to embrace lower prices for higher quality and higher bandwidth in order to overtake the current incumbents. If Apple continues to have the brilliance of vision it has shown over the last few years, then whatever happens it will continue to lead. All that most of us consumers can do is hang on and enjoy the ride.

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