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Apple’s Brilliant Moves

By now the Ooo’s and Ah’s about Apple (News - Alert)’s new version of the iPhone (“2.0”) have abated a bit, and at least some of us have taken a step back to ponder what it all means.

Yours Truly was one of the many people who hesitated buying the first iPhone (News - Alert) because of its price – $399 – and so the new, slightly smaller model is $199, with a GPS device, WiFi (b/g), a passable 2 megapixel camera and a much-needed 3G chipset capable of supporting HSDPA (High-Speed Download Packet Access) and data transmission rates of 400 to 700 kilobits per second. But if you’re visiting a flood plain in Iowa and no HSDPA service is available, the new iPhone, like an old analog modem, can “fall back” to the more available and somewhat slower EDGE (Enhanced Data-Rates for GSM Evolution) or even all the way down to Ye Olde conventional GSM/GPRS.

The price is actually a big deal. Back in the early 1980s when I was starting to dabble with minicomputers and looking at micros, Apple was touting its super machine, the Lisa, introduced on January 19, 1983, with an astounding price tag (News - Alert) of US $9,995. That’s a lot to pay for a GUI, mouse and protected memory, not to mention an operating system written in – eek! – Pascal. I decided instead to buy an Atari 800, then a Commodore Amiga (the greatest computer of all time), then an Epson IBM (News - Alert) clone.

Amazingly, the iPhone 2.0 has two other “master strokes” that will finally propel Apple into the ionosphere of the business world. First, it’s targeting the Research in Motion crowd, whose love affair with the BlackBerry (News - Alert) has overshadowed even the clever smart-phones of the pioneer in this area, Palm. Second, Apple is finally really opening up the product to third-party developers, hopefully of the wild-eyed independent programmer variety.

Apple’s long-time obsession with maintaining complete control and secrecy over the internal workings of the Macintosh discouraged Yours Truly and others from having anything to do with Apple products. Sure you could buy a C compiler that would run on a Mac, but where was the API to write to? Apple had the least friendly developer environment of the 1980s and 1990s. But today, Steve Jobs (News - Alert), not in the best of health and yet no doubt working around the clock, has climaxed his (and Apple’s) roller coaster ride, transforming the company back into a wild success story. Although it’s true that Apple computers have been making some serious inroads in the business world lately, it’s just plain hilarious that Apple is finally going blast open the gates of corporate America once and for all with – a touchcreen do-everything phone! It’s destined to be the mobile god-box of the 21st century. It’s outrageous. It’s 1977 all over again.

And it will be Steve Jobs’ legacy.

Everyone has their own favorite story about Jobs, the immodest genius with an impulsive temperament more akin to a Hollywood producer than a high-tech guru. And yet he consistently achieved and set creative milestones that his competitors could never even have imagined – especially at Microsoft (News - Alert), which continues in its attempts to echo some of his innovations. (I wonder what Steve Wozniak thinks of all this.)

And now, Jobs has set Apple on the proper course. With or without him, it’s likely that the company will continue to impress us for years to come. IT

Richard Grigonis is Executive Editor of TMC (News - Alert)’s IP Communications Group.

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