Long lonng ago, before year 2000 to be exact, digital music was something people despised. The audio cassette, along with the Walkman, were long dead. Its replacement, the Discman, was awfully clumsy. Then came MP3 players with as much style as a heap of hay in some old Western. Piracy had theprofits of record labels flagging. Move on to 2001, when Apple launched the iPod, which revolutionized digital music forever, creating a market segment that is now fast becoming a major source of revenue. We’ve seen the iPod and its other avatars in the Shuffle, the Nano, and the Video. The ultimate Holy Grail of convergence devices though was a phone that could double up as a music player, and have some class too. In 2005, we saw the crap dished out by Motorola in the form of the ROKR, which was blasted apart for a sluggish interface, and note enough memory. Since then, the demand for an Apple-made, iPod-like phone device has been growing, and the world finally got to see the Apple iPhone during the recent Macworld.
Hasn’t been put through the paces yet, but for all the pictures that have been released, it’s drop-dead gorgeous. Like all Apple products, style AND substance both have been given due consideration. The navigation system, using a touch interface, seems to be a bold move in an era when other manufacturers are going in for the ‘dedicated music button’ concept, and in a skeptical market after the Nano was released with substandard screens that got scratched easily.
It has a motion sensor, which switches off the display when you bring it close to your ear, and a sensor to change display brightness according to ambient light, and yet another sensor to sense whether you’re holding the phone in portrait or landscape orientation, and swivels the display accordingly. A bit disappointing though, nothing new since these features HAVE been there on some other smartphones too. Safari is the web browser.
Now, the drawbacks. Something that may really irk people is its tiny battery life of 5 hours with video, or 16 hours of audio. But what will REALLY irk people is that despite having iTunes, users CANNOT download music wirelessly – they’ll have to dock it in like a normal iPod for that. As for me, I think that’s really dumb, because that would have been a major attraction, plus could have countered the threat from Microsoft Zune’s wireless sharing capabilities.
All I can say is, the Apple iPhone may be the catalyst that gets the mobile music industry buzzing, or if it fails, REALLY put people off from convergence devices for a long time to come…