Forget the iCloud Phone, and all that other crap; I’ve got the goods on Apple’s next move. I have it from a trusted source* that, contrary to really idiotic reports that Apple’s working on a “cheap” phone that will simply cost less upfront, with no change in the monthly costs, Apple will be unveiling what can only be referred to as a feature phone.
What, exactly, will it be?
This new iPhone — which I’ll refer to as the iPhone Nano, for sake of convenience — won’t simply be a smaller or less memory-laden version of an existing iPhone, because that would be idiotic and wouldn’t meet the goals of “cheaper.” No. No! It will be something completely different. It will be a whole new product, for a whole new market.
The iPhone Nano will be physically smaller, in line with the Candybar iPod Nano. It will have a less powerful processor than the iPhone 4, and probably even than the 3GS, but that’s okay, because it won’t run custom apps. It will be Apple’s response to a feature phone. Remember when the iPhone 1 came out, and it was just the core apps? Remember how my close, personal friend Steve Jobs called making phone calls the killer app? It’s exactly that. It’s the iPhone 1 without a web browser.
The thing is, the majority of humanity that uses a phone only wants to make phone calls with it and send texts. That’s is. The iPhone Nano will offer that functionality, plus the ability to listen to music, and pretty much nothing else.
Why, exactly, will it be?
You’re probably wondering why Apple would release an iPhone with a hobbled version of iOS. You’re probably wondering this because you like all of the features Apple’s added over the years, and you wonder why anyone would buy an iPhone without apps and internet access. You’re definitely wondering this because you’ve got you’re head up your butt, and are the wrong market. There are two excellent reasons why this phone will happen:
First, there’s the price. The thing is, when the tech pundits talk about Apple making a cheap phone, they keep confusing what “cheap” means, or what it should mean. Pundits — and lots of folks in the first world, folks who can afford smartphones — keep saying that an iPhone at $49 or $0 would sweep the market and lay to waste all those who would DARE to stand against it, but that argument is stupid, for several reasons.
One: The 3GS is already $49. And when the next iPhone gets announced, the iPhone 4 will probably be sold at $49 while the 3GS won’t be sold at all.
Two: The upfront cost is the smallest chunk of change involved in buying a smartphone. The major cost for a smartphone is the monthly service plan, and when people talk about making a phone cheaper, they need to start thinking about that. Now, presumably Apple wouldn’t be able to convince every carrier in the world to offer data plans at a 90% discount — if they did manage that somewhat miraculous goddamn feat, everyone would want it for every phone everywhere, which would negate the need for a special iPhone with a cheaper data plan. No, the way to go here is to take the data plan out of the equation.
The thing is, it doesn’t matter how much you knock down the initial purchase price of a smartphone if, say, your income is only a couple grand a month, or, say, $100 if you’re in the third world. You need to make it a device that anyone can use without an expensive plan. Apple needs to make the phone cheap to buy unsubsidized, and they need to make it cheap to operate.
Second, there’s the marketshare. The market for smartphone users continues to grow, and even though Android is currently eclipsing Apple in terms of sales, Apple’s doing pretty well, and selling their iPhones hand-over-goddamn-fist. Despite that, the market for smartphones is only so big, and beyond that is the much, much larger market of cell phone users who either aren’t interested in or able to buy a smartphone.
We head-up-our-assers tend to forget it, but those users are the norm.
The majority of the phone using market doesn’t use smartphones, and the majority of featurephones are pretty old-school, in terms of styling. How wonderful would it be if Apple, the only company to design beautiful products, made a stylish, beautiful featurephone?
Not only would it be something magical for people who could afford a smartphone but don’t want to, it would also be wonderful for the majority of the market that simply can’t afford one.
To put it another way: Apple’s already destroyed Nokia’s smartphone market, it’s time for them to destroy Nokia’s dumbphone market.
In case you think this is a silly notion, consider Tim Cook’s recent statement on an earnings call that Apple doesn’t want the iPhone just to be for rich people. They’re going to make them palatable for poor people, which is, in some ways, where the money is.
In case you think the idea of Apple making a version of the operating system which would, essentially, only look like iOS, but wouldn’t offer much of the core functionality, consider the current iPod Nano: it features a simple operating system that looks like iOS, offering a consistency of user experience, without the overhead, or need to support all those features. Apple’s already doing what I say they will do to their new phone. It’s just a matter of time — probably a couple months — before they do this.
The iPhone Nano is coming. It will be a massive success, despite the fact that for the first time, Apple will be exclusively targeting a product at the unwashed masses. You won’t like it, or need one (but you’ll buy several, because you’re like that), but Apple won’t care, because they’re selling it to someone else.
*The trusted source is me, okay? Yes, this is just speculation, but my track record of Apple speculation is pretty good: I called the iPhone OS name change, and my prediction about Apple turning its Macs into glorified iOS devices is moving right on track.
Also, I know that this was speculated about over at AllThingsD a while ago, but I was unaware of this until just now, so that makes it my idea, goddamn it.
Engadget has a review of the new Android phone by Samsung on their site. It sounds pretty great, and if I could be assured that the Galaxy S II doesn’t randomly shut down in the mornings like the Galaxy S I does — which is goddamn annoying — I’d be over it like crap on a toilet.
A lot of people are talking about the Google Phone, which is funny considering the stupid thing doesn’t exist, but for sake of argument, let’s pretend it does: Will it actually change the way cell phone carriers operators run their business? Will it change anything at all?
That wasn’t a hypothetical question, I was just being polite. I’m Walt Goddamn Mosspuppet, I tell you things. That’s how it works. So buckle up, cupcake, I’m about to smack you in the face with some knowledge. Things are about to get goopy.
My answer is no. The Google Phone won’t change anything.
Google’s got its phone, the Nexus One. I know, I know; take as much time as you need to vomit while thinking of how horrific the name is, this amazing post will still be here. Back? Okay, good. The rumor is that it’s going to be sold without a provider, a move which will, coming from Google, set the world ablaze. There are two parts to this crapdazzle of a story, and I’m going to break it down for you like Woody Guthrie. Ready?
The first part of this trifecta of idiocy is the phone itself. As near as anyone can tell, it’s a rebranded HTC Passion. Why is this significant? Some people are saying it’s because the current HTC Passion is running Windows Mobile currently, so Android would be new and fantastical, but a simple web search for “HTC Passion” seems to show that the Passion is coming to Verizon at the very end of this year with Android already installed. Aside from the fact that this renders Google’s great internal unveiling of a brand new phone as potentially no more than a company giving out a Christmas gift, this means the phone isn’t anything more than one of a number of neat looking phones coming out in the near future running Android 2.1. (TechCrunch reports that Google’s had a lot of input into the customization of their own version of the HTC Passion, but TechCrunch should shut up)
What’s that, you say? The Droid runs 2.0, so Android 2.1 must be the super special sauce? That could very well be, but from where I’m sitting the super sauce looks is coming from a great many flaccid blogger cocks. HTC Bukkake, anyone?
The HTC Passion is a cool looking phone, but it’s essentially off-the-shelf, as is Android. Now, some people are saying that this will be some super-version of Android, one unburdened by the greedy, evil cell carriers, one finally allowed to run free and frollick in the fields of “I’m hallucinating because I ate too many Cheetos I’m choking on one oh god oh god I’m about to die alone in my parent’s basement,” but that’s just conjecture at this point. Where’s the Beef, as they used to say? I’ll tell you where the beef is, bucko; it’s in the goddamn cow that hasn’t even been born yet!
A big part of the hype here is that the phone will come unlocked. For those of you who don’t know (which is almost everyone), “unlocked” means that a phone isn’t tied to a specific carrier, and this matters to about 15 people in the world. Why does it matter? Options. If you’re not tied to a carrier you’re free to jump back and forth between carriers as you please. This is a principled stand, which is both admirable and pointess; you’d have to be on a month-to-month contract in order to take advantage of your phone being unlocked without suffering enormous early cancellation fees, and you get better deals when you’re on a longer contract, and most people pick longer contracts because they like better deals and, hey, you’re not going to stop using your phone next month, so why deprive yourself of savings?
Yes, it’s nice that you can get this phone no matter what carrier you’re on, but so what? If you’ve already got a phone, are you going to go out and by another one just because it’s unlocked, or because the feature-set is better in ways that are hard for you to understand? No you’re not. Shut up.
Here’s the thing: people outside the tech bubble don’t buy a phone every six days. They just don’t, and if you think they do then you’re a delusional nitwit. Most people buy one damned phone every year or two then they just use the things like the tools they’re supposed to be. They fire and forget blindly in the darkness, like I do after my Viagra’s kicked in. For many people the phone and service may as well be the same thing. And since Google will be selling the phones directly (on their site and possibly through retail channels), they’re going to confuse the hell out of their customers.
Saying Nexus One will change phones forever is like saying that a shiny new collar on a single Chihuahua will change dogs forever: it’s stupid. Normal people don’t understand technology. It’s why they need people like me to explain it to them. Do you really think they’ll get the appeal of the Google Phone? Do you really think people understand cellphones? It took most people more than a decade to figure out how to set their goddamn VCR clock, and now we’re supposed to believe they’ve somehow gone from not even realizing they have legs to being marathon runners capable of understanding why this phone is better than all the others? Please.
Imagine you’re an average person who hears about the Nexus One, and thinks it’s cool enough to buy. Does it make sense that after you buy the phone you still have to set up a plan for it as a separate transaction? That’s hobbyist crap, and most people aren’t hobbyists. Most people want to walk into a store, buy something that works, and go home. If Nexus One isn’t connected to a carrier, then they won’t get that experience. People will think some part of this chain is broken and complain about it. The phone will get a bad reputation with the broader public because it doesn’t fit with the way cellphone purchases have always worked. This may help feed an elitist view that the phone is just two r0x0rs for the commoners to understand, but it won’t do a damn thing to help with any landscape changing.
The confusion over the Nexus One — you know what? Screw it, I’m not calling it that anymore. It’s just too stupid. I’m going to call it the Google Phone, because while that sounds stupid, too, it sounds a lot less stupid than “Nexus One.” Every time I say it I need to wash my face out with whiskey.
The confusion over the Google Phone won’t just extend to activation; it’ll extend to pricing, as well. Cell phones are cheaper when you get a contract because the phone company is subsidizing the price of the phone. No carrier means no subsidizing, so unless Google sells this at a loss because they’re going to throw ads at you like a drunken Thai prostitute throwing around offers of cheap handjobs, the phone’s going to be a lot more expensive than ones that aren’t unlocked.
The more I think about it, the more “unlocked” sounds like “Organic,” except with even less obvious benefits.
I’m sure that some of you craphats are yelling at your monitors right now, while tightly clutching your saliva-stained binkies, saying “But Mosspuppet, Android 2.1 is so much better than 2.0!” To that I say: screw you. This phone will be compared to two things:
- The iPhone — Compared to the iPhone, this may indeed be nicer, but it will likely be more expensive, plus have fewer farting apps on it. So the iPhone wins.
- Other Android phones — Jesus, this’ll be such a non-starter. I mean, hell, a good chunk of the population have spent the past eight years running goddamn Windows XP and can’t tell you the difference between it and Windows 7. These idiots are going to understand a point release? No they’re not. Their computers and their phones are tools, and not tools like you are, either. Their computers and their phones do things, and they don’t pay more attention to them than that. So people are going to like the menu of this one Android phone, and the Best Buy clerk or their friend or some other douchebag is going to say “get the Google Phone, it’s running Android 2.1 and it’s unlocked!” and the people are going to look at two identical phones, see one that costs more, and go with the phone from the carrier. So the other Android phones win.
People won’t understand the Google Phone. It will confuse them, and when people get confused, they go with what they know, and they already know how to walk into a store and ask the nice idiot from Verizon or T-Mobile or Rogers to please give them that shiny new phone there, because I just got a call that my upgrade price eligibility has kicked in, and what the Hell.
The Google Phone won’t revolutionize anything; it’ll be an orgy for a handful of tech journalists, and a non-starter for everyone else.
I wish I was making that up, but my funniest joke is just to say the word Arrington out loud.
I mean, really, internet? You really think that Google would be so idiotic, so mindblowingly lame as to name their new phone Nexus One? It sounds like either the title of, or the main prop in, a failed science fiction movie from the 70’s. “We’re about to board Nexus One, hold on to your butts!” Christ on a crapper, that’s a stupid name.
What’s next? A car called “Earthship 2012?” Sober up.
I’d also like to take a moment to point out that, according to the site Phone Arena, the HTC Passion, which the non-existent Google Phone actually is, already has Android in it. So internet nerds are getting excited about Google giving its employees a phone that you’ll supposedly be able to buy from Verizon this month, anyway.