Isn't the iPhone just a phone?

Posted by Mark Raby

Opinion - The people who have started lining up for the iPhone already now are in serious need of a reality check, says TG Daily’s Mark Raby.

Yeah, yeah, I know everyone is slowly getting tired of iPhone stories and, but maybe someone of you can clue me in on why so many out there are going nuts over this iPod with a cellphone in it.

Earlier this week, two guys started a line outside Apple's flagship store in New York City in anticipation of the iPhone, which goes on sale at 6:00 PM on June 29. That's more than a four day wait.

I've seen this kind of insanity before last November. Lines for the Playstation 3 ended up in incited artificial hype, muggings, and drive-by shootings. We interviewed people standing in line who did not care about losing their job in the hop of being among the first to either play a high-def game or make a killing on Ebay. Parents dead set on buying their children a Wii for Christmas either neglected family to wait in line or accepted a markup of 3000% on Ebay.

Such insanity over new product releases has become one of the biggest trends of the new millenium, but one thing about the iPhone should remain clear: Jeez, guys, it's a phone!  This is a device that consumers will be locked into for the next two years and won't have an opportunity to set aside when the novelty wears off.

I'm somewhat of a self proclaimed cell phone enthusiast, but even I don't pretend that I frequently use my phone for multimedia applications.  I've used Verizon's Chocolate, T-Mobile's MDA, Sprint's Fusic, and the N-Gage gaming phone.  Each of these boasts great multimedia features, but in the end they're all just phones.  No matter how much extra stuff the iPhone offers, it's still a convergence device. It will look, act, and feel like a phone, which is nothing more than a basic communication device.   

Apple wants to sell 10 million of these things in its first year, a feat that no other phone in that price range has achieved. We have our doubts that demand isbeing met, which means supply is not going to be a problem. If you want an iPhone, by all means, pay $600 for the phone and send AT&T the $1400 it will cost you to keep it operational, over the span of two years. But do we really have to be so desperate that we can’t wait a few more days or weeks until there is ample supply?

It is sad that manufacturers apparently enjoy when people are waiting in line for their product. An AT&T representative today told us that, if I wanted an iPhone, I should get in line rather sooner than later. On Friday, we will see how much supply there really is and how serious Apple is about the iPhone and its strategy to deliver on the hype it created.