Monday, June 09, 2008

Rapture Averted: JesusPhone2 Fails To Appear

Let me start by saying that Apple is the kind of company you love. When they swing, they swing for the fences. Sure, they may strike out from time to time (Uh...Mac Cube? Newton?), but more often than not they connect, and they send it out of the park. Think of the iMac, OS X, The Powerbook. But go beyond: think of Apple retail stores and how they redefine shopping, or the marketing campaign that started it all, Think Different. The iPhone was, arguably, their greatest hit to date, and millions of customers later, we hungry hordes were desperate for another home run.

Waaay back in February, the rumors started of an iPhone software update that would allow you to run applications on the JesusPhone. When Apple scheduled a keynote in March, it was all but done. And then the first letdown of the young iPhone's existence was revealed: rather than keep to the previously inviolable mantra of Apple's "Announce today, get today," His Steveness took the stage that rainy March morning to proudly announce the iPhone 2.0 software and SDK...available in June. Crestfallen, the throngs consoled themselves that the timing was just about right for a new version of the iPhone, so perhaps we'd see the ultimate JesusPhone, along with the new apps and the backwards compatibility, and...and....

You get the picture.

So, today was the day: Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference. Steve on stage, the June timeframe, mysterious Apple online store offline (as usual with new hardware), and the scarcity of JesusPhone 1 in any retail locations. Yes, the stars were aligned. Add to that the frenzied examination of any clue (smaller LCD's? Dual sizes?), and we were ready to go. Sure, we knew the basics of any new iPhone: 3G speeds, GPS tracking, and a price cut. After all, those are not only staples of any sequel Apple product, but address the lack of those features in JesusPhone1, while the rest of the phones on the market have that all built in.

This is the JesusPhone, after all. It's not a phone; pfeh. That could be done (and has) by anyone. No, the JesusPhone transforms the way we use technology, establishes a new paradigm. Before JesusPhone, using the web on your phone was a novelty; after, it's the standard. Music on your phone? Hell, before JP1 it was a painful experience; after, it's the only experience. Watching movies on your phone? Never before even considered. These were not features; they were conscious lifestyle choices to make a device that fits with the desires we have to consume communications and media, and the time in which we have to do them. So, it was clear we were in for a patented "Oh, just one more thing..." from Lord Steve today. The rumors were rampant, including:
- 2 way video calls, thanks to a front-facing video camera and 3G
- An iPhone Nano, for the smaller form factor
- Wireless iTunes syncing, wherever you are
- Subsidized by AT&T, the price would be astronomically lower
- A new Project RED version

So, our stage was set. The timing was right. The signs were there. It was time for Apple to redefine our world again. The lights lowered, the black turtleneck was seen, and we all refreshed our browsers (or used to learn what universe we now lived in...

And Apple announced 3G, GPS, and a price cut. Oh, the one more thing? That iPhone 2.0 software, as well as JesusPhone2? Mmm...forget that June thing. Early July.

Yup, that was it.

Sure, they tried to dress it up with some announcements of new apps for the forthcoming App Store, as well as some interesting infrastructure improvements (back-end connectivity, sync with the cloud with Mobile Me, etc.), but this was it. This could have been a Samsung keynote. Or, more to the point, a Microsoft one. Apple's stock plummeted in real-time with every new non-revelation. And the delay, when we all expected in March, and were told June, and now are hopeful for July, should pummel them.

Today's the day that Apple came down from the stratosphere. The legendary Jobs, understandably weakened by pancreatic cancer, was not able to make this new revelation in the timeframe we expected. Instead, he exposed Apple as a company that misses deadlines, fails to dramatically innovate on a successful product, and outsources his future success on 3rd parties. Might as well change the name to Palm, and be done with it.

Do I sound bitter? You bet I am, and it's Apple's fault. They trained us this way: before Apple, we never would have looked at today's keynote as anything but a dazzling vision of the future. Instead, thanks to their own expectation setting, we are reduced to pedestrian concerns. No game changers, no game breakers, no new game level: just being played.

I shed a tear for today: the day that my Apple vision innocence was lost. Bring on July...

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