Functionally, the iPhone is nothing new. But if it takes off, it could herald a transformation of new mediaby John Browning / February 25, 2007 / Leave a comment
Published in February 2007 issue of Prospect Magazine
Despite the hype, Apple’s new iPhone doesn’t do much new. Shelves already groan with devices that can email, browse the web, play music, make phone calls and send text messages. The iPhone’s claim to fame is simply that it does these things more easily and with more panache than its rivals. But if it works as promised, that could still be enough both to make money and to kickstart a transformation of media.
How? A successful iPhone would make it apparent that media can and should change. While the internet has created some world-changing new technologies—the web and email, to name two—its impact on existing media has so far been negligible. Despite years of babble about convergence, telephony, video, music and the internet have continued to run along separate tracks. The iPhone brings them together. It is the first truly converged device with a real shot at the mass market.
This means that a successful iPhone will alternately delight and frustrate. Delight because it is indeed cooler and easier to use. Frustrate because it will highlight how much cooler and easier to use media could yet be. Why doesn’t my phone know where I am, to provide local maps and recommendations? Why can’t I get the same videos and music on both sides of the Atlantic? Why can’t I send my friend a video clip as easily as I now send a picture from the web? Why can’t my phone tell me where it is, dammit?