NY Times Takes a Long Look at iPhone, App Store

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This past weekend, the New York Times ran a lengthy article looking at the success of the iPhone and the monolithic presence of the App Store in the mobile market. “The iPhone will be remembered as the first true handheld computer,” analyst Craig Moffett said, calling the device’s 2007 introduction “a turning point in the industry.”

Katy Huberty, a fellow analyst, concurred: “Apple changed the view of what you can do with that small phone in your back pocket. Applications make the smartphone trend a revolutionary trend — one we haven’t seen in consumer technology for many years.”

She added: “The game that Apple is playing is to become the Microsoft of the smartphone market.”

With great power comes great responsibility, and reporter Jenna Wortham spends time talking to developers and Apple executives Phil Schiller and Eddy Cue. One example of the former is Freeverse, a long-time Mac and PC games developer which has found much success on the App Store with such titles as Moto Chaser, Flick Fishing, and Skee-ball.

“For our size and seriousness, we are still treated like a college freshman who is doing this as a side project,” Freeverse founder Ian Lynch Smith said. “The trade-off being that there is a much lower barrier to entry for developers. Anyone can have a shot.”

Ms. Wortham also touches on the struggles some developers have faced negotiating the review process, noting that one, FreedomVoice Systems, has had its mobile telephone app in approval limbo for more than a year, while another, Cerulean Studios, waited for three months but finally received a phone call from an Apple employee saying their app would go live that day.

Mr. Schiller said of the app approval process: “We care deeply about the feedback, both good and bad. While there are some complaints, they are just a small fraction of what happens in the process.” He added that Apple has added reviewers to the App Store and has tried to figure out other ways to streamline the approval process.

And while the App Store has revolutionized the way mobile apps are delivered, which used to involve dealing with the cellular network carrier, the frustration with Apple’s control over the entire process has led to some success in the jailbroken devices arena. Mario Ciabarra, who carries apps for jailbroken iPhones and iPod touches on his Rock Your Phone storefront, says he has seen visits from about 1.5 million of Apple’s handhelds. Apple has sold somewhere around 50 million iPhones and iPod touches.

The article also spends some time talking about the App Store competitors launched by Microsoft, Research in Motion, Palm, and Google. None of them offer anywhere near the number of apps available at the App Store, prompting a discussion of quality versus quantity by most of the representatives interviewed.

And while the App Store’s competition may have many more devices to target, just like Microsoft Windows runs on a much wider variety of computers than Mac OS X, Bump Technologies co-founder Dave Lieb pointed out: “When we create an application for the iPhone, you know it’s going to run exactly as you tested it on every single model. The same isn’t true for the rest of the smartphones, which have varying screen sizes, processor speeds and form factors.”



Craig Moffet, don’t embarrass yourself with ignorant comments and get your historical facts straight. The Palm Treo was the first true handheld computer which was released many years before the iPhone even existed. The iPhone only improved what the Palm Treo had already accomplished: open/save Word/Excel documents, read PDF documents, play games, watch TV and YouTube videos, listen to internet radio, surf the Web, remotely control your PC, tether your laptop, read and send e-mail, and the list goes on!


?The iPhone will be remembered as the first true handheld computer,? analyst Craig Moffett said, calling the device?s 2007 introduction ?a turning point in the industry.?

Wow, that is pretty ignorant. The IPhone didn’t bring anything new to the mobile computer table….There are much better devices out there. The fact that the development platform is closed means it is fail in the business world, because no company will develop customer applications to interface with their servers if it has to go through the app store. What new technology did it introduce that did not already exist in mobile computers?  None you say?

“Katy Huberty, a fellow analyst, concurred: ?Apple changed the view of what you can do with that small phone in your back pocket. Applications make the smartphone trend a revolutionary trend ? one we haven?t seen in consumer technology for many years.?”

Apple did nothing of the sort, they copied features from others devices and introduced locked down and restricted software. An IPhone is little more than a social toy. It is not worthy of being compared to the real smartphones of the business world. Apple may have an app for that, but many other phones had an app for that long before apple. I can’t think of anything that an IPhone can run (that is worth running) that another smartphone cannot run. In fact, IPhones cant do quite a bit compared to other phones. Apple is good at marketing, that is it….


ifonee,  Be careful accusing Craig Moffet of embarrassing himself by claiming the iPhone is the first true handheld computer by stating that the Palm Treo was the first.  It can be equally argued that the palm treo wasn’t the first as well.  There were several predecessors to the palm from Apple, HP, and IBM.  To the best of my recollection, as there could be another device I am forgetting, the Apple Newton was the first of these types of devices.  It was introduced in 1989.  Palm was no more the first hand held computer than Microsoft was the first maker of Windowed OS’s.  There is little question that Palm was the first to seriously replace the paper organizer, and when the treo integrated that functionality with the Cell Phone it became a popular business tool.  But the iPhone brought the smart phone out of the business world into the broader consumer world.  There can be little dispute of that.


So Dave, the iPhones success is solely based on marketing? Please provide details… Please list the better devices so we can consider them in our next business purchase.


You guys are dinosaurs.  Ranting about how the iPhone did nothing new and how the Palm Treo was the first blah blah blah.  Take a look around, if the iPhone is so redundant why are there 50M sold?  Why is everyone jumping on the app store bandwagon?  Why is the touchscreen taking off?

Brad Cook

Those of you taking exception with Craig’s quote should take into his account his use of the word “true.” I’m sure he realizes that similar devices predated the iPhone. His contention is that the iPhone is the first device to fully realize the idea of a handheld computer.

You may disagree, which is why we have a comments section. Craig’s comment is the technology equivalent of saying “Ozzie Smith was the best shortstop in baseball history.” Of course arguments will ensue. That’s cool.

Bryan Chaffin

I personally think that Mr. Moffet’s comments are likely to end up prescient.  The iPhone will be remembered as the first true handheld computer.

10 years from now, I think that most folk will look back at the iPhone as just that. You can make arguments from the Newton, the Palm whatever, the BlackBerry, Windows Mobile devices, and whatever else, and those arguments will have their valid points, but it’s the iPhone that changed the game, and it’s the iPhone that was (or is, as we’re living it) the tipping point towards handheld computers becoming mainstream.

Christopher Ray Miller

Dave said:

“The fact that the development platform is closed means it is fail in the business world, because no company will develop customer applications to interface with their servers if it has to go through the app store.”

Reading this, I think you are unaware that there is a separate process in place for developing in-house business applications for iPhone that don’t require the App Store for distribution. They can be distributed in-house by the business that develops them. The App Store is only intended for applications available to the public.

Just google “in house iphone applications” for a slew of links to info on this, much of it from people who have developed private, restricted-access iPhone apps.

Christopher Ray Miller

Again, re- Dave’s comment:

I think I may have misinterpreted what you were saying in my first response. You talk about businesses not wanting to provide applications that access their servers if they have to go through the App Store. Actually, accessing a business’s servers through an app and having to go through the App Store (at the customer’s end) to obtain the app are still completely separate and unrelated issues. Nothing in the fact you have to go through the App Store as a customer of a business to obtain a copy of their customer-interface app has any bearing on the app’s contacting their servers to provide its functions to you.

Just google up “iPhone business apps” and again, you will find a plethora of links to contradict what you are asserting here.

Constable Odo

Hewlett-Packard is going to get mighty upset by some people’s claims of who put out the first real handheld computer.

The thing that really gets me is the constant claims that the Palm Treo is a better iPhone than the iPhone.  It seems if the Treo were really that good, Palm could have just updated the Treo a little bit and sold it as an iPhone competitor instead of introducing the Palm Pre.  For the past couple of years I’ve heard Palm loyalists saying that anything the iPhone could do, the Treo could do five years ago.  It’s rather odd that Palm’s company fell into such dire straits with a product that should have been able to easily stop the iPhone growth with such little effort.  Compared to the claimed greatness of a Treo, even the Palm Pre seems to have taken a step backward.

What exactly did cause the Treo to fall from favor anyway?  Was it too advanced for its time.  Or perhaps the old timers just get carried away from reminiscing so fondly about what was likely an old clunker that died from a natural death of growing long in the tooth.

Dean Lewis

I hope I live long enough to enjoy the My Neural Interface Is Better Than Your Neural Interface wars as much as I’ve enjoyed the computer and phone and video game system versions.

And, when I say “enjoy” I mean “not at all.”


Whether the iPhone was the ‘first’ is in many ways irrelevant.

What can’t be denied is that the iPhone changed the landscape. Before the iPhone smart phones were popular in the far east and somewhat in Europe, but not in North America. I remember reading an article at the time where a Japanese Tech Editor couldn’t understand why Americans just didn’t buy or even understand smart phones. He was completely mystified. In the US phones were for the most part just phones and little else and smart phones made up a tiny part of the market, mostly business. After the iPhone we now have smart phones becoming a major part of the North American market both for businesses and consumers. In my mind that will be how history will refer to the iPhone. It changed the landscape.


It seems to me that it’s iPod or iPhone all the time now. Perhaps you should rename this site accordingly.  How about IPO instead of TMO?

Neither the iPhone nor the iPod are Macs. They don’t even share an OS. There are some of us who still care about the Macintosh, it’s software and it’s problems, and don’t care a rat’s ass about the iPhone or iPod.

It seems like The Mac Observer has sold out to the lowest common denominator - advertising revenue.

Good luck with that, but you’ve lost me.

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